The club had its genesis around 1931 at University College, Oxford when a group of students and lecturers met to read aloud and discuss their unfinished works. Among them were two writers whose books would go on to sell over 400 million copies: C.S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. The original group came to an end after a couple of years, but Lewis and Tolkien resurrected it at Lewis’s own Oxford college, Magdalen.
Most of the members were associated with Oxford University and all were male. Like-minded in their love of fantasy and the importance they attached to narrative in fiction, their principal purpose was literary criticism. From the outset they had plenty of material to get their teeth into: amongst the earliest works to be discussed was Tokein’s The Lord of the Rings.