The Middle Earthworm
The Middle Earthworm was a news and letter zine devoted to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, published by Archie Mercer and Beryl Mercer.
Archie Mercer was the British agent for The Tolkien Society, based in the U.S. The Middle Earthworm was a newsletter connecting British members to the group. Published first in Bristol, UK, and then in Cornwall, England, 29 issues were released between October, 1968 and June, 1976. It was then retitled The Once and Future Worm, with a shift in focus to Arthurian material.
Issue 2 appeared March, 1969. #4 in 1969, #5 in October, 1969; #6 was 6 pages, released in November, 1969; #7 in January, 1970; #8 in March, 1970; #9 in May, 1970, #10 was 10 pages, appearing in July, 1970; #11 was 12 pages, published in September, 1970; #12 in 1970; #13 in January, 1971; #14 in June, 1971; #15 was 15 pages, released in October, 1971; #16 was 20 pages, appearing in February or March, 1972; #17 in June, 1972; #18 in October, 1972; #19 in January or February, 1973; #20 in June, 1973 - 20 pages, #21 in October, 1973; #22 - February, 1974; #23 in June, 1974; #24 in October, 1974; #25 was 22 pages, released in February, 1975; #26 was 16 pages, appearing in August, 1975; #27 in October, 1975; #28 in February, 1976; Issue 29, the last, was 16 pages and published in June, 1976.
Letters came from Mike Ashley (Xeron), and Adj Cook, among others.
In Checkpoint #25. of October 1972, Peter Roberts says of The Middle Earthworm, "A letterzine largely devoted to Tolkien, The Middle Earthworm nevertheless allows space for all sorts of rambling and as such it entertains. It's also interesting as a last stomping ground of such British fans of the early sixties as Mike Ashley and Adj Cook – not to mention Beryl Mercer who makes a rare appearance as well."
Mike Scott Rohan, in Ansible 198, of January 2004, reminisces, "Beryl and Archie were also among the creators of Tolkien fandom in this country, with their fanzine The Middle Earthworm which ran for three or four years in the late 60s and early 70s. It introduced a lot of people to the idea of fandom, myself included."
Archie Mercer had previously been one of the editors of Vector.
Beryl Mercer's first fanzine, co-edited with Mary Reed (Crabapple), was Link, released in 1964. After that title folded, she continued publishing, with titles such as Oz, and The Damned Patrol with Joe Gibson (G2), John Berry (Pot Pourri), and Terry Jeeves (ERG).