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New Tolkien Projects, Part One

January 15, 2014

It has already become clear to us, just halfway through the first month of the new year, that 2014 is going to be very busy for our work with Tolkien, so much so that we’ve had to call this post ‘Part One’. Here we’ll include as much news as we can give at this time, pending the signing of contracts and the settling of details.

Farmer Giles 2014In our last Tolkien Notes on November 3rd, we announced the return to print of our 50th anniversary edition of Farmer Giles of Ham. Since then, we’ve read two proofs and have written a brief note to introduce a gallery of Pauline Baynes’s later full-page illustrations for Farmer Giles, drawn for the Tolkien collection Poems and Stories (1980). The text of the new edition of Farmer Giles follows the previous one (1999), with adjustments to our introduction and notes to reflect the fact that Tolkien’s story has been newly typeset rather than, as before, reproduced in facsimile. The result will be another handsome volume in HarperCollins’ series of pocket-size editions of Tolkien’s works, following on The Hobbit and Roverandom.


Adventures of Tom Bombadil coverAlso scheduled to appear in this series, on October 9th, is The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book. We had proposed a new edition of this book for its 50th anniversary in 2012, but the timing seems not to have been right for it. Instead, we were given approval to begin work on it last year, and are now making a final revision. This new edition will contain the sixteen poems as published in 1962, together with the original drawings by Pauline Baynes. But it will also include earlier versions of the poems, where earlier versions exist – some of these were published in magazines and journals which are now hard to find – and it will reprint a later ‘Bombadil’ poem, Once upon a Time. In addition, we are very pleased to be allowed to publish for the first time, from Tolkien’s manuscript, the predecessor of Perry-the-Winkle, called The Bumpus, and the complete, tantalizingly brief fragment of a prose story featuring Tom Bombadil, in the days of ‘King Bonhedig’. To these, we have added an introduction, comments on the poems and on Tolkien’s preface, and glosses for unusual words, as we did previously for Roverandom and Farmer Giles of Ham.

Readers Companion 2008On June 19th, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion will return to hardback in the U.K. Our Reader’s Companion, first published in 2005 simultaneously in hardback and A format (mass-market) paperback, provides annotations for The Lord of the Rings, including some drawn from unpublished writings by Tolkien, and documents our work on the corrected 50th anniversary text of The Lord of the Rings as it stood at the time. (This year of course, and 2015, mark the 60th anniversary of the first publication of The Lord of the Rings.) In the U.S.A., Houghton Mifflin Harcourt have kept the original hardback Reader’s Companion in print, while HarperCollins allowed it to go out of print, retaining instead a B format (trade) paperback with a revised and slightly expanded text. We will be looking carefully at the 2008 edition and considering corrections and additions besides those noted on our website, as space permits within the present number of pages.

Images (cover art), top to bottom: the new edition of Farmer Giles of Ham; The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book (1962); the 2008 trade paperback of The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion.

  1. Morgan Thomsen permalink
    January 15, 2014 11:54 am

    Great news! I’m especially looking forward to the new edition of _The Adventures of Tom Bombadil_.

  2. Roger Lee Jesus permalink
    January 15, 2014 2:19 pm

    Excellent news! I look forward the new edition of the LotR Reader’s Companion. And thank you for such admirable work on Tolkien’s world.

  3. Troelsfo permalink
    January 15, 2014 6:09 pm

    Wonderful news … there go the savings … 🙂

  4. January 15, 2014 6:35 pm

    Great news! Congrats to you both!

  5. Martin Bellamy permalink
    January 16, 2014 5:10 am

    Great – Look forward to Tom Bombadil. Guess this means your Baynes book on hold ?

    • January 16, 2014 8:46 pm

      Let us say that it has returned to a back burner, and work will continue as soon as time allows.

  6. Nathaniel Greene permalink
    January 25, 2014 6:46 pm

    Thank you both, so much, for your work. I’m a PhD candidate in near Eastern languages and civilizations, particularly focusing on Semitic languages and texts…I’ve always loved Tolkien’s work (especially some of the underlying Semitic influences!), but have only recently really begun to research and dig further into his stuff. (I just ordered the Companion and Guide!) I’ve started my own little collection of his works. In my field, you tend to acquire lots of Bibles in various languages and translations…I’ve begun to approach Tolkien in the same way and it has quickly turned into an obsession. (I had thought I was making some decent progress until I saw pictures of your library!) You’ve produced some wonderful publications. Please do persist. They’re such lovely contributions.

    I’m hoping I can someday teach Tolkien alongside teaching things within my specialty. Seeing your bibliographies and other things of that nature is encouraging and exciting.

    • February 9, 2014 8:24 am

      Thanks very much for your comments, Nathaniel, and best wishes for your doctoral work.

  7. Henry permalink
    March 4, 2014 6:58 pm

    Hello. Have you read the new biography by Alister Mcgrath called C.S. Lewis: Eccentric Genius, Reluctant Prophet? What is your opinion of it? I liked the Roger Green – Walter Hooper biography, and I liked the George Sayer biography, and hated the A.N. Wilson biography. I haven’t bought the Mcgrath book yet as I have been waiting to read something positive from someone who understands fantasy literature.

    • March 5, 2014 9:19 pm

      Hi, Henry. We haven’t read the McGrath biography, so can’t comment on it. Our opinions of the other C.S. Lewis biographies you mention could be summed up much the same as yours, though ‘hate’ would be too strong a word for Wilson’s book.

  8. March 12, 2014 1:59 pm

    In my book, “Tolkien in Pawneeland,” I argue that Tolkien drew inspiration from three Skidi Pawnee Coyote stories to construct the sequence of four adventures that appears in the poem “The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.” I found your “Companion and Guide” very useful in conducting my research on this point, and I thought you might appreciate hearing about my work. I look forward to seeing your new edition of Tolkien’s collection of poems next fall.

  9. godfreyofboulogne permalink
    March 15, 2014 12:44 pm

    Will Farmer Giles be published by HMH as well, or will it be UK only?

  10. March 15, 2014 8:59 pm

    As far as we know, the new Farmer Giles of Ham has not been picked up by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. The U.K. (HarperCollins) edition can easily be ordered online, though, e.g. from Amazon UK or Book Depository. Amazon Canada also has it listed for Canadian publication on 16 May.

  11. Bob permalink
    March 25, 2014 9:24 am

    Wayne and Christina,

    Just a note to let you know that your work is greatly appreciated. This comes from a fan who has read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit (at least once) every year since 1973. Although I have many editions of LotR (as well as your supplemental texts), the 1991 Alan Lee illustrated (one volume) edition remains my favorite. I hope the 60th anniversary Alan Lee edition has the Ring inscription (in “The Shadow of the Past” chapter) in red, as although an apparently minor issue, this seems to be important to me. My “ultimate edition” of The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit combination would include the Karen Wynn Fonstad “Atlas of Middle Earth” which I always use when reading the stories every year, but I would imagine the odds of including that volume in a Harper Collins set is slim or none. Another worthwhile inclusion would be more of Lee’s paintings that he has accomplished since the 1991 edition, for example his Weathertop painting from his recent J.R.R. Tolkien calendar. I am also glad to hear that you have a revised LotR Reader’s Companion in the works. I am looking forward to see what additional information you have included in this comprehensive volume. Thanks again for all of your work.

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