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Tolkien fans' fury after tree collapses

By Emma Townshend

Workers at the Oxford Botanic Garden have been bombarded with emails from angry JRR Tolkien fans after a pine tree famed for its associations with the writer collapsed shortly before a concert was due to be performed under its branches.

The last photograph taken of The Lord Of The Rings author, who wrote in the shadow of the pine, shows him standing with his hand on the trunk. But last weekend it began making noises.

"We were just about to hold one of our regular summer picnics and suddenly the musicians said they could hear little noises, like cracks," Dr Alison Foster, the garden's director, said. "It came crashing to the ground just minutes later... and staff accepted it had to be removed for safety.

"Lots of fanatics who believe they are living in the Shire think (we) are murdering the tree. And they are deadly serious. One particular person has managed to find everyone's work emails, has complained to the city council, and probably a number of other people, actually alleging that we are Saruman (the main protagonist in The Lord Of The Rings)."

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