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From Tolkien’s Library

May 5, 2018

In Tolkien Notes 15 we wrote about a collection of books by Tolkien that Wayne was able to buy inexpensively at auction more than thirty years ago. Not much later, he also acquired, again for a relative song and (if memory serves, the invoice having been misplaced) likewise through Bertram Rota of London, a group of sixteen items, mostly offprints or reprints of scholarly articles, which had been in Tolkien’s possession. This was before prices of even minor pieces once owned by Tolkien rose to sometimes extraordinary levels.

Here is an inventory of the items Wayne acquired and which remain in our Tolkien collection:


Birney, Earle. ‘English Irony before Chaucer’. Reprint from the University of Toronto Quarterly, July 1937. Annotated by Tolkien on four pages. Tolkien library label.


Blakeley, L. ‘The Lindisfarne s/ð Problem’. Reprint from Studia Neophilologica 22, no. 1. Inscribed by Tolkien: ‘Lindisfarne s/ð Problem, Blakeley (B’ham [Birmingham])’. Tolkien library label.


Bradley, Henry. ‘Psalm LXXXV 9’. Offprint from The Journal of Theological Studies, April 1920. Tolkien has written on the lower wrapper disconnected jottings in Modern and Old English, with doodles. Tolkien library label.


Brady, Caroline. ‘The Old English Nominal Compounds in -rád’. Reprint from PMLA (Publications of the Modern Language Association of America), June 1952. Inscribed by the author: ‘To Professor Tolkien, with highest esteem’. Two corrections by the author. Tolkien library label.


Chapman, Coolidge Otis. ‘Numerical Symbolism in Dante and the Pearl’. Offprint from Modern Language Notes, April 1939. Inscribed by the author: ‘To Professor Tolkien with the writer’s compliments’. Annotated by Tolkien on one page.


Dal, Ingerid. ‘Zur Entstehung des englischen Participium Praesentis auf -ing’. Offprint from Norsk Tidsskrift for Sprogvidenskap 16 (1952). Inscribed by Tolkien: ‘English Participial ending –ing’. Tolkien library label.


Draak, Maartje. ‘Virgil of Salzburg versus “Aethicus Ister”’. Offprint from Dancwerc: Opstellen Aangeboden aan Prof. Dr. D. Th. Enklaar ter Gelegenheid van Zijn 65. Verjaardag, Groningen, 1959. Inscribed by the author: ‘Elen síla lúmenn’ omentielmo! M.D. See p. 42’. Identification of source of publication separately inscribed, probably by the author (certainly not by Tolkien). The page reference is to a mention of Tolkien in relation to Virgil (Vergilius) of Salzburg, whom some have put forward as the author of a medieval Cosmographia otherwise ascribed to Aethicus Ister: ‘Either “Virgil” forges a scientific text, or he writes in his spare time and for his own pleasure a work of fiction. If he writes a work of fiction, that does not reflect on his reputation as a scholar. (In our time J.R.R. Tolkien has edited Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and he has written The Lord of the Rings.)’ Annotated by Tolkien on three pages. Tolkien library label.


Jacob, H. ‘On Language Making’. Pamphlet printing of a paper read to the Philological Society on 6 February 1948. Inscribed by Tolkien: ‘Very interesting paper’. Tolkien library label.


Language (journal of the Linguistic Society of America), September 1933. Complete issue. Inscribed: ‘JRRT’. In the table of contents, ‘A Note on the Development of the Indo-European Dental Groups’ by M.B. Emeneau is ticked, and ‘The Germano-Celtic Vocabulary’ by George S. Lane is underlined. Annotated by Tolkien on four pages (in the Lane article). Tolkien library label.


Prospectus for the Linguistic Atlas of New England by Hans Kurath (1938). Includes a fold-out map illustrating the use in New England of earthworm and its variants. Annotated by Tolkien on one page. Tolkien library label.


Marche romane (journal of the Association des Romanistes de l’Université de Liège), Juin 1951. Complete issue, probably obtained by Tolkien during the Congrès International de Philologie Moderne in September 1951. Tolkien library label.


Savage, Henry L. ‘A Note on Parlement of the Thre Ages 38’. Offprint from Modern Language Notes, March 1928. Inscribed by the author: ‘With the author’s greetings!’


Savage, Henry L. ‘A Note on Parlement of the Thre Ages, 220’. Offprint from Modern Language Notes, March 1930. Inscribed by the author, but with most of the inscription cut away.


Savage, Henry L. ‘Notes on the Prologue of “The Parlement of the Thre Ages”’. Reprint from the Journal of English and Germanic Philology, January 1930. Inscribed by Tolkien: ‘JRRT  Savage — Notes on Parlement of the Thre Ages’. Tolkien library label.


Savage, Henry L. ‘Sir Gawain “Fer ouer þe French flod”’. Reprint from the Journal of English and Germanic Philology, January 1948. Inscribed by the author: ‘With the author’s good wishes, H.L.S.’ Tolkien library label.


Serjeantson, Mary S. ‘The Dialect of the Earliest Complete English Prose Psalter’. Offprint from English Studies (Amsterdam) 6 (1924). Inscribed by Tolkien: ‘Serjeantson E.E. Prose Psalter’. Tolkien library label.


Wadstein, Elis. ‘The Beowulf Poem as an English National Epos’. Reprint from Acta Philologica Scandinavica 1931–2. Inscribed by the author: ‘With the author’s compliments’. Inscribed by Tolkien: ‘Beowulf a National Epos Wadstein’. Tolkien library label.


Wayne’s purchase was modest compared with a much larger lot we previewed later at Phillips’ auction rooms in Oxford, in October 1988, ‘a collection of over 250 offprints, etc. presented to Tolkien by their authors, often signed by them, covering the areas of study in which he was a specialist’. ‘These papers are the seed-bed from which Tolkien’s linguistic genius sprang’, the catalogue adds – well, they were not exactly that, but related to his linguistic interests, and they illustrate the esteem in which Tolkien was held even relatively early in his career as a scholar and teacher. This lot had a house estimate of £100–120, and probably sold within that range. Also in the sale were three smaller lots (as described in the printed catalogue):


STRONG (A.T.): Short History of English Literature, 1921; LINDSAY (D.): Voyage to Arcturus, 1946; PATMORE (C.): The Wedding Sermon, n.d.; and 35 other books and pamphlets on early English literature from Tolkien’s library, many he has written on thin covers, etc. Estimate: £40–45.


A similar collection of 27 miscellaneous books and pamphlets including a volume of Catholic pamphlets, 1912, etc.; his Roman missal, 1917; and his friend G.B. Smith’s copy of Goethe’s Faust, circa 1909. Estimate: £30–40.


[Tolkien ephemera]: 3 page typed letter signed from Derek Price to T., 1952; and 2 pp. typed letter and typed article from R.M. Wilson signed with relative offprints and an ALS [autograph letter signed] from Sir Lionel Whitby, Master of Downing College to Tolkien, 1950; and a number of signed pamphlets, etc. Estimate: £20–30.


A collection of 17 volumes of Works by various authors, all with presentation inscriptions to Tolkien, including Works by Sterling E. Lanier (2), David Beattie, Peter Howard and Boru Dernoki, a possibly unique typescript. Estate: £20–30.


Tolkien library label

All of these lots, indeed the first part of the Phillips sale of that day, was from the library of Stanley Revell, an Oxford resident who had purchased many items from Tolkien’s library (and a few from Christopher Tolkien’s), reportedly in order to sell them to help fund collecting his favourite author, T.S. Eliot. It was Revell who is said to have created the Tolkien library label (‘From the Library of J.R.R. Tolkien’), a self-adhesive ‘bookplate’ whose glue unfortunately ‘bled through’ thin paper wrappers.

Looking back at this catalogue of the Phillips sale from a distance of thirty years, of course all of the house estimates seem now like small change, given the development of interest in Tolkien and the resulting growth of the Tolkien collectors’ market.

Tolkien Notes 15

April 30, 2018

The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide

The new edition of our J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide is currently offered on Amazon U.K. for £76.78. This is not as low as the price has gone, but is less than it was for a while (£78.00), and much less than the list price of £120.00.

Tolkien Society Awards

Members of the Tolkien Society, of which we ourselves have been members for a great many years, have voted Too Many Books and Never Enough the best website for 2018. See this article for details. Our thanks to all who thought us worthy, despite our lack of frequent posting. The other nominees deserve mention no less: Devon Press’s useful bibliographical site TolkienBooks.US, and Ryszard Derdziński’s blog Tolknięty which has revealed much about Tolkien’s continental ancestry.

Collector’s Nostalgia

While sorting one of our files, Wayne came upon a page from a 20 March 1984 Sotheby’s London auction catalogue with the following lot:

Tolkien (J.R.R.) The Hobbit, de luxe edition, coloured plates, Folio Society, 1976; The Lord of the Rings, 3 vol., illustrations, ibid. [i.e. also Folio Society], 1977; India paper edition in one vol., 1974; Poems and Stories, illustrations, 1980; The Road Goes Ever On, with music by Donald Swann, 1968; The Father Christmas Letters, coloured illustrations, 1976; The Silmarillion, 1977 (2 copies); Letters, 1981; Unfinished Tales, 1980; Pictures, coloured and plain illustrations, 1979, the last eight first editions, original cloth or boards, the first four and last in a slipcase or box; and 23 others by Tolkien (some paperbacks), 8vo and 4to.

Against an estimated price of £100–150, the lot sold for only £90 (then about $145), which was a bargain for thirty-six books, even with a premium – £9, when the premium was only 10% of the hammer price – added on. The London bookselling firm Bertram Rota bid on Wayne’s behalf. At that time he had almost none of these titles in his Tolkien collection, so at once filled several major wants. Among these were the Folio Society Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, the India Paper edition of The Lord of the Rings, the first (British) editions of The Road Goes Ever On, Letters, and other books, the first three British paperback printings of Tree and Leaf, and the three-volume Reader’s Union edition of The Lord of the Rings. Some of the books were a surprise, because they weren’t mentioned in the description – they were among the ‘23 others’. All were in at least very good, collector’s condition. Unpacking the box was, Wayne says, like Christmas in July (or rather, March).

New Addenda and Corrigenda

April 10, 2018

J R R Tolkien Companion and Guide boxed setWith the publication of our revised and enlarged J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, we’ve ceased to post addenda and corrigenda to the 2006 edition. Instead, we’ve created new web pages, for the 2017 edition as a whole, for the Chronology and Reader’s Guide, for a revised list of topics in the Reader’s Guide, and for a new supplemental bibliography for the Companion and Guide. Since there has been, so far, only one set of addenda and corrigenda to the new edition, we have not yet created secondary pages listing additions and corrections by date. We’ve also created an addenda and corrigenda page for The Art of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, and updated pages for The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book, The Lord of the Rings, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion, and Roverandom.

The second printing of the new Companion and Guide is in hand, and we’ve heard no complaints about faulty dust-jackets or boxes from this run. Amazon U.K. have been offering the boxed set of three volumes at £78 (reduced from £120), or even less. Book Depository are also discounting the set, if not by as much, but offer free international shipping. (Shame on Book Depository, though, for listing Wayne as the sole author!)

Quality Control

November 7, 2017

When we received our advance copy of the new J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide in September we found two of the three volumes hard to remove from the slipcase. It seems that too much glue was used in making the box, and perhaps also that the books were put into the slipcase before the liner glue had dried. As a result, when we took the books out of the case one of the dust-jackets had lining paper stuck to it (which we were able to remove), while another jacket lost some of the paper surface of its leading edges, stuck to the liner.

We notified HarperCollins of this problem at once, and their staff have since inspected warehouse copies of the boxed set. Finding some with the same problem, HarperCollins have had new jackets printed and manually replaced them. This naturally caused a delay in shipping some of the boxed sets. The issue with the box liner doesn’t apply to copies to be sold separately, of course, and those are still on schedule to be released on 30 November. The ebook version will also be published on that date.

At the same time, however, HarperCollins have received orders for the boxed set far beyond the number they had predicted, and have taken the new Companion and Guide back to press. They have also received an order from the Folio Society for copies to sell to its members. This is all good news for us, but another cause of shipping delay. We’re told that Amazon are now waiting for HarperCollins to confirm when it will have more copies in stock before changing the status it lists, which is currently for dispatching within two to four weeks.

Publication Day (plus One)

November 3, 2017

Wayne writes: Yesterday, November 2nd, was the announced publication date for the new, three-volume edition of our J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide. We received an advance copy in September, so it has been printed; but we learned today that HarperCollins have had quality control issues regarding the boxed set, and must replace copies that weren’t acceptable. We don’t know yet how long the boxed set will be delayed, or if the copies to be sold as individual volumes – which were to be published on 30 November – will be delayed as well.

This is disappointing to us too. But shall we say that patience is a virtue? And in the meantime, Amazon U.K. (sorry, there’s no U.S. edition) are still taking orders for the boxed set at only £78, a savings of £42 off the list price. (The three individual volumes will sell for £40 each.) Though we say so as shouldn’t, we think that this is good value for money. Here are the figures.

The first edition (2006) of the Chronology volume ran to 996 pages, including genealogical and bibliographical appendices, a list of works consulted, and an index, while the first edition of the Reader’s Guide (omitting back matter also included in the Chronology) came to 1135 pages, thus effectively 2131 pages, plus a preface of 9 pages. For the new edition, 61 pages have been added to the Chronology proper, 320 to the Reader’s Guide proper, 20 to the appendices, 28 to the bibliography of works consulted, and 6 to the index. The preface is now 11 pages, and in the Reader’s Guide we added an 8-page list of the articles. That totals 445 additional pages, compared with our first edition.

Counting that in words, and referring only to the main portions of text, the Chronology has 434,474, the first volume of the new Reader’s Guide 426,240, and the second volume of the Guide 326,354. Altogether that’s 1,187,068 words – or 1,304,120 if one were to add the appendices and other matter. Because the Chronology and Reader’s Guide once again are to be available separately as well as together in a set, we included our preface in both the Chronology and volume 1 of the Reader’s Guide, and a comprehensive index to the set in both the Chronology and volume 2 of the Guide. In order to balance the three volumes as much as possible, however, we moved the family trees and bibliographical matter from the Chronology (where we had them in 2006) to the second volume of the Guide, and included our list of works consulted in the Guide (the second volume) only.

Often we have pointed out that the Companion and Guide contains a great deal of previously unpublished material by Tolkien himself, especially in the form of extracts from letters. This is true again for the new edition, part and parcel of the material newly added for 2017 as Christina indicated in our previous post. There Christina mentioned some of the new articles in the Reader’s Guide; a complete list may be found on our website.

The Chronology has also been much expanded. This was the volume I worked on at the start of our revision, while Christina dealt first with the Guide. I began by making, in our design software, a copy of the Chronology as we sent it to HarperCollins in 2006, which I then corrected according to the corrigenda we had posted on our website or compiled towards the new edition. (Later I did the same for the Reader’s Guide.) After this I began to insert existing Chronology addenda, but immediately saw that the history should more properly start not in 1889 with the birth of Edith Bratt, Tolkien’s future wife, but in 1857 with the birth of Tolkien’s father, Arthur, and that the timeline of events regarding Arthur and Mabel Suffield, Tolkien’s mother, which we had related in our entry for 1891, would be best presented as separate entries.

There were many tempting research tracks to follow in these early years, aided by an increased number of resources since 2006, both in print and online. A special mention should be made of the Ancestry website (, to which I returned often. One of the most interesting avenues to explore traced the birth, baptism, parentage, and upbringing of Edith Bratt, made possible by access to documents (wills and divorce proceedings) regarding the relationship between her mother, Frances ‘Fannie’ Bratt, and her father, Alfred Frederick Warrillow. Other topics of research included the ship Roslin Castle, which Mabel Suffield took to join Arthur Tolkien in South Africa, and the cause of Arthur’s death, about which there are questions. Such research is part of the fun of writing books like this.

When I got to Tolkien’s time at King Edward’s School in Birmingham, and especially to his undergraduate days at Oxford, I felt that we should have more documentation than we did in our original edition; and numerous mentions of his school and university friends suggested that they should have at least brief biographical entries in the Reader’s Guide. John Garth had already dealt with some of this matter in his booklet on Tolkien at Exeter College, but I researched each of the friends independently, through Ancestry and other sources.

And so it went throughout the Chronology, as I inserted material from existing addenda, wrote new entries for information that came to light while we prepared the new edition, and augmented the section of notes at the end of the Chronology proper. Once again, as in 2006, as soon as we submitted our final text to HarperCollins still more letters by Tolkien surfaced, and more continue to come to light. As before, we’ll document the most important of these, and other information that comes our way, in a reconstituted online Addenda and Corrigenda.

I should say something also about our new list of “Works Consulted”. Readers of our first edition will recall that we printed a dagger before each title that we considered ‘particularly useful for an appreciation of Tolkien’s life and works’. Now, having drawn from so many more sources for our new edition – the number grew by more than fifty per cent compared with our previous list – we found it too difficult to define what we meant by ‘useful’, and decided to omit daggers altogether. Instead, it should be taken as a measure of ‘usefulness’, at least according to our opinion, if we cited, and sometimes commented on, a source in the text of the Companion and Guide.

Working on the Reader’s Guide

October 18, 2017

Christina writes: One of our first aims in making a new edition of our Tolkien Companion and Guide was to deal with two confusing matters which came to light before the work was originally published but after we submitted its final text towards the end of August 2006.

First, we had referred to Tolkien’s long alliterative poem on Túrin (in The Lays of Beleriand) as The Children of Húrin, a title used by Tolkien himself. Then HarperCollins announced (in September 2006) a prose version of the story of Túrin under the same title, and we could only hope that our references to the poem wouldn’t be confused with the book ultimately published in 2007. In our new Companion and Guide we now refer to the 2007 book as The Children of Húrin and the poem as The Lay of the Children of Húrin. To avoid anything similar happening with our second edition, HarperCollins promised to keep us informed of potential conflicts, and in the event we were given early access to Beren and Lúthien (2017). In our new edition we distinguish the book Beren and Lúthien from its underlying story ‘Of Beren and Lúthien’ (both entered under B).

Also, we looked forward to correcting entries concerning Jane Neave which we had based on information in Humphrey Carpenter’s biography of Tolkien. Only a few weeks after the original Companion and Guide went to press, an article by Maggie Burns in the September 2006 Amon Hen showed that Carpenter was not correct when he stated that in 1904, while his mother was in hospital, Tolkien stayed in Hove with his Aunt Jane and her husband Edwin Neave. Maggie established that Jane and Edwin were not married at the time, indeed Jane was employed as a teacher in Birmingham. Further research by Maggie, who unfortunately did not live to see how much her work helped us in our new edition, and also by Andrew Morton, built up a more detailed picture of Jane which led to several addenda and corrigenda on our website.

When we began to work on our revised edition, Wayne attended to the Chronology while I began to lay out a framework for the Reader’s Guide. We had already placed on our website an alphabetical list of topics in the Guide, and over the years had supplied lists of addenda and corrigenda. My first step was to insert the entries in the accumulated addenda and corrigenda into the list of topics in the correct order; and to this I added headings marking entries to be written for primary material (i.e. written by Tolkien) published since August 2006 – on our website we had paid more attention to corrigenda than to addenda, and had not added new entries for many of the later publications. The resulting list was rather long. In addition to The Children of Húrin, Christopher Tolkien had also published The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, The Fall of Arthur, and Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary together with Sellic Spell. Primary material had also been edited by other scholars: The History of The Hobbit by John Rateliff, an expanded edition of On Fairy-stories by Verlyn Flieger and Douglas A. Anderson, The Story of Kullervo and The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun by Verlyn Flieger, J.R.R Tolkien: Fragments on Elvish Reincarnation by Michaël Devaux; Fate and Free Will by Carl Hostetter; and A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages by Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins. Some of these publications include more than one work, and therefore needed more than one entry in the Reader’s Guide. Since 2006 we ourselves contributed The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Art of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, and an expanded edition of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. In addition, a large amount of Tolkien’s linguistic material and created scripts had appeared in seven issues of Parma Eldalamberon and two of Vinyar Tengwar. All this amounts to at least a shelf of newly published material.

We had also thought of many additional subjects for which entries should be written. I added these to the outline of topics I was compiling for the revised Guide. Some had been suggested by readers, others were omitted from our first edition for one reason or another (not all clear to us more than a decade later). To name only a few, new entries include: Authorial Presence; J.M. Barrie; The Battle of Maldon; John Buchan; Lewis Carroll; Composition, Manner of; Essays Presented to Charles Williams; poet H.R. Freston; Maps; Realities: An Anthology of Verse; Romanticism; The Seafarer; William Shakespeare (separated from Drama); Tolkien Estate; Tom Bombadil: A Prose Fragment; Richard Wagner; and The Wanderer. We also decided to add more entries for people Tolkien knew at King Edward’s School or at Oxford, or who were close to him in his academic career or personal life. These include, among others, Allan Barnett; C.M. Bowra; R.G. Collingwood; Francis de Zuleta; Mother Mary Michael; Alfred Measures; the Mitton Family; the Mountain Family; and Denis Tolhurst. Altogether there are almost a hundred new entries, only sixteen of which previously appeared in some form in our online addenda.

At the same time, I marked some forty existing topics which needed additions, sometimes extensive, to cover developments during the intervening decade or publication of new new material. These include: Adaptations; Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics; Biographies; Brookes-Smith Family; Collecting and Sales; Criticism; Fandom and Popularity (previously Fandom); The Hobbit; Illustration; The Jerusalem Bible; Languages; Languages, Invented; The Lord of the Rings; Stella Marie Mills; Francis Xavier Morgan; Mortality and Immortality; Emily Jane Neave; Edith Nesbit; Perry-the-Winkle; Reading; Recordings; Reincarnation of Elves; Religion; Source Criticism (previously Source-hunting); Suffield Family; Tolkien Family; War; Women and Marriage; and Writing Systems. Again, this list is not exhaustive.

So with this outline of the task ahead I turned my attention to the material written about Tolkien and his works since 2005, allowing that time constraints might have prevented us adding any but the most significant matter to entries already completed. Books from this period would fill at least three shelves, and that is not including magazines and journals and online forums. I began by working methodically through Tolkien Studies, Mythlore, Mallorn, Amon Hen, Beyond Bree, Hither Shore, Seven, Journal of Inklings Studies, and Lembas Extra, noting under a topic articles which seemed relevant and worthwhile, and sometimes copying brief extracts to indicate their importance. I did not, of course, have to read everything: often a title or quick scan would indicate that a paper fell outside the scope of our work. Next, I went through the proceedings of the Tolkien Society conferences held in 2005 and 2012, and then turned to the bookcase in which we shelve collections of essays, the greater part of which were published in 2005 or later. After this, I turned to books by individual authors from the relevant period, in some ways more difficult since a book may make successive significant points with chapter titles likely to be less informative than essay titles, but those books most likely to be relevant usually have an index (even if not always as good as I would have liked). For new topics I obviously had to go back further than 2005. For magazines and so forth, I referred to notes I had made when I had looked at earlier issues for the first edition of our book, when we were still uncertain of what topics would be included. For books, I covered the most likely works by checking the index (if any) and chapter titles.

Finally I turned to our ‘Tolkien Archive’ files – a work in progress. When I lived in London I pasted cuttings (biographical information, reviews, articles, etc.) into scrapbooks and accessed them by means of a typed index of their contents and a manuscript alphabetical index of newspapers and magazines (leaving space for additions). I tried to keep this up when I moved to Williamstown, but we were kept busy with writing books, and Wayne wanted something more serviceable and archival. The material piled up, especially when we were working on the first edition of the Companion and Guide and on The Lord of the Rings, and there were times when we had to embark on a desperate search for something we wanted and knew we had. At that point, my scrapbooks were more user-friendly.

Once our books were finished for the moment and we had completed renovations to our house, at the beginning of 2008 I began the task of dealing with this mass of paper. First I made a rough sort into larger categories and then divided each of these more finely and as logically as possible in hanging folders in seventeen plastic file boxes. I then began to compile an electronic catalogue and private inventory for these papers and for the scrapbooks, in which each item would be listed by its place – by numbered scrapbook or numbered file in numbered box, and further listed alphabetically by author and by source title, with a separate list of extracts from books by author. Entries for items vary from brief statements of identification to summaries, some quite detailed, and a rough and ready indicator of significance. This task was interrupted when we were commissioned to write more books, but by the beginning of 2016 I had dealt with some sixty scrapbooks (about a third of the total) containing biographical material and reviews of books by Tolkien, and had dealt with most of the hanging files (with the exception of material dealing with individuals other than members of Tolkien’s family, but these, which had been placed in alphabetical order, were reasonably accessible) and with a mass of unsorted cuttings about the various films.

I had just begun to address the scrapbooks containing reviews of Humphrey Carpenter’s biography of Tolkien when we were asked to write our new Companion and Guide. For this we only occasionally needed to look at the scrapbooks, which had been mined for the first edition, and I did not even need to look at the mass of paper in the hanging files to find relevant material. I just scanned the electronic files and copied entries which looked interesting into the topics master file. Next came a read through of the original text of the Guide, adding notes of errors or typos and of matter that needed updating. This became the master file for the Guide.

We did not write or revise articles to any order, picking what we felt like writing, but generally dealt with those we each had written for the first edition, if revision or addition was needed, and also produced new entries in the same categories. Thus Wayne dealt with Tolkien’s academic writings and most of his literary works, including poetry; biographies except for some literary figures; places; and Tolkien’s created languages and writing systems, while I dealt with all of the entries concerning ‘The Silmarillion’ and The Silmarillion; general entries about Tolkien as a writer; most literary figures; and many general topics. But there were exceptions: Wayne wrote the entry on John Buchan because he has read more of his works, while I wrote the one on The Fall of Arthur because I have read more Arthurian literature, and that for The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún as the sources of that work are similar to those used by Wagner, which fell to my lot as an opera enthusiast.

Once we began to write, Wayne controlled the master file for publication and added each completed entry once it had been approved by both of us, looking again for typos or inconsistencies, especially of style between entries, checking that references to online sources still work (many were defunct), and eventually typesetting each volume.

As a coda, I am just working my way through a seven-inch-high pile of papers that accumulated since we began to work on the second edition, some extracted from existing archive files, a small number of additions during the past few months, but the bulk of it new material collected or downloaded while working on entries in the Chronology or Reader’s Guide.

Visiting Tolkien’s Publishers

August 13, 2017

Over the years, we have visited Tolkien’s British publishers in their variety of establishments. Christina used to watch the windows of George Allen & Unwin’s London headquarters at Ruskin House, 40 Museum Street, for the occasional Tolkien display, and to step into the reception area now and then to pick up catalogues. She penetrated further in 1987 when Rayner Unwin allowed her to photograph covers and artwork of translations of The Hobbit for a talk at the Tolkien Society seminar celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of The Hobbit’s publication. Because there was not much room, she had to rest the books on a high windowsill to get enough light, and to stand on steps to shoot from above. She later expanded beyond The Hobbit to other titles, at Museum Street and then mainly in forming her extensive library of Tolkien in translation.

A few years before that, Rayner gave Christina permission, along with Charles Noad, the Tolkien’s Society’s bibliographer, to photocopy Allen & Unwin’s collection of Tolkien-related press cuttings at the company’s warehouse in Hemel Hempstead, twenty-four miles (thirty-nine kilometres) north-west of London. As she recalls, Christina and Charles made three or four visits, taking a train from Euston at about 8.30 a.m. and then a bus from the station into the town, arriving not long after the offices opened at 9.00 a.m. They would then work through until closing time (about 5.00 p.m.) without lunch. Sets of reviews, including ones from the U.S.A. supplied by Houghton Mifflin, and miscellaneous publicity about Tolkien were packed tightly into envelopes (in some cases, ‘scrunched’ would be a better description). Christina and Charles paid for the cost of the photocopies, and to save time and money opted for the larger A3 paper, fitting as many carefully unfolded cuttings as possible on each sheet. Christina later cut out individual items from her set of copies and pasted them into a series of scrapbooks –  we’ve made great use of these in our books and papers on Tolkien. After Allen and Unwin merged with Bell Hyman in 1987, the Hemel Hempstead premises were sold and the cuttings evidently discarded. In the film made to celebrate the Tolkien centenary in 1992, Tom Shippey reads some of the reviews from one of Christina’s scrapbooks.

Allen & Unwin sold a long lease on Ruskin House and the new entity, Unwin Hyman, moved into premises in Broadwick Street, Soho. We visited these offices several times, sometimes accompanied by Joy Hill, who had worked at Allen & Unwin in the 1960s and 70s, variously as Rayner Unwin’s secretary and to organize matters associated with Tolkien, at times helping with his correspondence. Christina met Joy first at a few Tolkien events, and was in contact with her also in regard to the Tolkien Centenary Conference, for which Christina was committee chair. Joy lived only few streets from Christina in Battersea, and became a close friend of us both. Wayne had been working for many years on a bibliography of Tolkien’s publications and, encouraged by Joy, was now striving to finish it for publication in 1992, the centenary of Tolkien’s birth.

Wayne having approached Rayner and the Tolkien Estate about access to Tolkien’s correspondence with Allen & Unwin, as a basis for his publishing history, permission was granted. Then suddenly we heard from Joy that Rayner had been unable to prevent the acquisition of Unwin Hyman by HarperCollins; the Tolkien–Allen & Unwin archive would be preserved, but its location would be uncertain for a time. We had to move quickly. Wayne spent most of a week in the Broadwick Street building, with Christina’s help part of the time, recording relevant information at breakneck speed while the Unwin Hyman offices were being dismantled, moved, or disposed of around us.

As HarperCollins were interested in promotional prospects of the Centenary Conference, as chair Christina had contacts with Mary Butler, who had been on the Unwin Hyman staff and was now in charge of Tolkien publications. She became our editor when Christopher Tolkien asked us to write a book about Tolkien’s art, and we subsequently visited her at HarperCollins’ offices in an impressive new building at 77–85 Fulham Palace Road, Hammersmith. There, after passing through a security checkpoint, one found a large central atrium surrounded on each level by a mix of private offices and open-plan working space.

J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator having been published with success in autumn 1995, when we returned to England in spring 1996 we went to Hammersmith again to discuss further Tolkien projects with David Brawn, Mary Butler’s successor. Our proposal of an expanded edition of Tolkien’s Letters was not taken up, but it was suggested that a Tolkien volume similar to Walter Hooper’s C.S. Lewis: A Companion and Guide would allow us to include some parts of unpublished letters, and more immediately, we were asked to edit Tolkien’s unpublished story Roverandom. During the next few years when visiting England we made our way to Hammersmith, where in addition to David Brawn we met his deputy, Chris Smith, as well as other assistants. On one occasion, we spent time comparing our notes from the Tolkien–Allen & Unwin archive against the original letters, which had to be used in the small room and narrow passage where their fireproof filing cabinet was kept.

We can’t remember the exact date of our final visit to Hammersmith, but it was probably early in the new millennium. Our visits to England have become less frequent, and with publishing business carried out now mainly by email there’s less need for personal contact. So there had been a considerable gap before our May 2016 visit to David and Chris at HarperCollins’ new headquarters in the News Building – earlier known as ‘The Place’ and the ‘Baby Shard’ – at 1 London Bridge Street, just south of the river. HarperCollins share the building with other Rupert Murdoch businesses, but are situated high enough to have a dramatic view of the Thames, the City, the Tower of London, and all of the various oddly-shaped tall structures that have altered the skyline in recent years.

We had been kept busy with The Art of The Hobbit, the expanded Adventures of Tom Bombadil, revisions to the sixtieth anniversary Lord of the Rings and to The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion, and most recently The Art of The Lord of the Rings. Now, invited to meet, we wondered what HarperCollins might be considering. After discussing a few possibilities (an expanded Letters was, alas, still not required), quite unexpectedly we were asked about a revised and expanded Companion and Guide. The original printing had sold out, and a straightforward reprint seemed unlikely to do well when so much had been published in the years since the original edition (2006) and so much more information had become available, including material we had noted on our website. After getting over our surprise, we were happy to discuss the proposal. Wayne pointed out that the Guide volume was already at its maximum length for binding. It was suggested that we make the Companion and Guide three volumes rather than two, splitting the Guide and reorganizing material to try to make the two new Guide volumes as equal in volume as possible both to each other and to the Chronology. At the same time, we welcomed the opportunity to add running heads to aid navigation, which we were unable to include in our first edition.

Eventually, when Wayne has time to work on a second edition of his Tolkien bibliography – so long promised! so often set aside as Tolkien contracts have come our way – we’ll need to visit HarperCollins’ offices in Glasgow. Their archive has moved there, including papers which would give printing figures and publishing details of Tolkien books since Wayne’s original cut-off date in 1992.

Finished at Last

July 12, 2017

At last, in the middle of June, we sent to HarperCollins the revised and expanded edition of our J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide. Our original March deadline proved impossible to meet. Even after we finished writing and revising, we still needed to add running heads (page titles) and to make a new index. This last step, which took about six weeks, delayed sending our completed files, and that is probably the main reason why the original publication date for the new Companion and Guide boxed set, 5 September 2017, has been moved back, first to 21 October and now to 2 November.

We knew from the start that it would take longer to index 864 pages in the new Chronology and 1,455 in the new, two-volume Reader’s Guide than it did 803 pages in the original Chronology and 1,135 in the first (single-volume) edition of the Guide. But we always forget that writing a thorough, useful index takes more time than we expect, in fact we have only a dim memory of how long it took in 2006. Although we were able to make use of our earlier draft index, so didn’t have to recreate our terms or style of presentation, all page references had to be corrected and we had a great deal of added text.

As for our previous edition, we considered whether to use the indexing function in our InDesign publishing software, but ruled it out as more complicated and less flexible than creating an index in Word from a printout of the finished pages, as we’ve done now for several books. The disadvantage of Word is that its sort function does not by itself ignore initial articles or quotation marks; but it allows the indexer to work critically rather than mechanically, taking into account alternate words or names and grouping related concepts.

When we began to write our new index we planned to break up some of the longer blocks of page numbers in individual entries, subdividing by topic or concept, as this had been a point of criticism from some readers of our first edition. We were able to do this to some extent, if not as much as we wanted. We were already past our deadline, and in the Chronology we had a limited number of pages we could devote to the index, HarperCollins having restricted the length of each volume to 960 pages for economic reasons. We had already moved the family trees and bibliographies of Tolkien’s works (126 pages) from the Chronology to the Guide, where we had more space (across two volumes), and we decided to omit from the Chronology our now much longer list of works consulted, which in any case had more bearing on the Guide. We were also able to slightly condense, from six to four pages, the long copyright statement at the end of each part. Even so, the Chronology text grew so much that we were left with only six pages beyond the original length of the index, while needing to cover more than 300 additional pages of text in the Companion and Guide. Fortunately, Wayne was able to extend the available space by reducing the font size and through other typographic tricks, and in the end our new index was just able to fit without having to be cut back, as we feared we would have to do.

Of course, even though we had both proofread our text thoroughly, the indexing process pointed out some further errors, omissions, and inconsistencies, all of which had to be corrected or emended, ideally within the same page breaks so as not to affect any indexing already done to that point. This was possible only because Wayne was setting the type and making up the pages, and we could rewrite as needed. We’re grateful to HarperCollins for understanding this process and not rushing to press the texts we had sent for their comment. Nevertheless, even before publication, we’ve begun to collect addenda and (very minor) corrigenda, and as before will post these on our website.

The full price of the new edition is £120, but Amazon UK are offering the boxed set at only £78. Later this November, each of the three volumes will be available individually as well, currently priced at £40. (These individual volumes are almost hidden by Amazon, and the two Reader’s Guide volumes are categorized under Science!) As far as we know, there are no plans for a new edition of our book to be published in the United States.

We’ll have more to say about added and revised content, and about our experience writing the Reader’s Guide, in later blog posts.

Tolkien Notes 14

November 24, 2016

Tolkien at Auction

Christie’s, King Street, London offer in their sale Valuable Books and Manuscripts on 1 December, as lot 40, Tolkien’s autograph postcard signed to the poet Alan Rook, 21 April 1943. Estimate: £1,000–1,500/$1,300–1,800/€1,000–1,700. Tolkien thanks Rook for a copy of his book These Are My Comrades and promises to send him a story to read, almost certainly Leaf by Niggle; see our Chronology, p. 260. In the same sale, as lot 165, is a first edition, first printing of The Hobbit, in dust-jacket, estimate £7,000–10,000/$8,600–12,000/€7,900–11,000.

Sotheby’s London offer in their sale English Literature, History, Children’s Books and Illustrations on 13 December, as lot 337, a set of The Lord of the Rings, HarperCollins, 1996, third/second/second printings of the three volumes in paperback, boxed, each volume with an inscription and original pencil drawing by Alan Lee. Estimate: £2,000–3,000/€2,250–3,350.

Sotheby’s New York offer in their sale Fine Books & Manuscripts including Americana on 6 December, as lot 119, a set of first printings of the first edition of The Lord of the Rings, Allen & Unwin, 1954–55. In the original jackets, but that for the Fellowship is price-clipped, and that for The Two Towers is browned. Estimate: $10,000–15,000. The catalogue entry, referring to a ‘trilogy’, states: ‘While serving in the trenches in WWI, Tolkien conceived of these tales set in a “secondary World,” for consolation and pleasure; they developed over a period of forty years into an epic narrative. The Lord of the Rings has been read as an allegory for multiple good-versus-evil conflicts: post-World War I and the rise of Hitler; Christian myth; even the environment, with the Dead Marshes reflecting Tolkien’s despair over the desolation wreaked by military technology.’ Note to the author of this text: No, it’s not a trilogy. No, it wasn’t written in the trenches – nor, for that matter, was ‘The Silmarillion’, which is probably what you have in mind. And Yes, The Lord of the Rings has been read as an allegory, but No, it isn’t one.


The Advantage of Being a Completist

For months we’ve been wondering about a four-volume set, J.R.R. Tolkien, being prepared by Stuart Lee for the publisher Routledge in their series Critical Assessments of Major Writers. Early information was sparse, but has now been amplified in a blurb which claims that the book ‘meets the need for an authoritative reference work to collect early evaluations and to make sense of the more recent explosion in research output. Users are now able easily and rapidly to locate the best and most influential critical assessments. With material gathered into one easy-to-use set, Tolkien researchers and students can now spend more of their time with the key journal articles, book chapters, and other pieces, rather than on time-consuming (and sometimes fruitless) archival searches.’ Its contents are listed on the publisher’s website.

The first volume is titled ‘Tolkien’s Life: Writer and Medievalist’, and will contain 19 essays or extracts in three categories: ‘Biographical Studies’, ‘The Medievalist’, and ‘Lit. and Lang.’. The second volume will be ‘The Roots of Middle-earth’, and will contain another 19 writings, on Tolkien’s language invention, sources, analogues, and inspirations, and mythology and mythmaking. Volume 3 is to be ‘Key Works and Themes’, comprising 19 writings on ‘The Silmarillion’, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, other works, and poetry. Finally, the fourth volume, ‘Themes, Reactions, and Legacy’, is to have 27 writings on war, spirituality and religion, good and evil, heroism, gender, modernism, critical reaction, fantasy, and film adaptations.

Contributors include Humphrey Carpenter (an extract from his Biography), Douglas A. Anderson, David Bratman, Diana Pavlac Glyer, John Garth, J.S. Ryan, Thomas Honegger, Tom Shippey, Jane Chance, Verlyn Flieger, Marjorie Burns, Stuart Lee himself, among many others. Because all of their writings on Tolkien have appeared before – there are no new contributions – we suspect that most ‘Tolkien researchers and students’, as well as most libraries, will have to think hard whether to spend £900.00 or $1,485.00 for ‘one easy-to-use set’, whatever the quality of its contents, and especially, the selection of contents – for one could name several worthwhile critical works on Tolkien for every one this set will include – and instead endure the ‘archival searches’ that are, after all, part and parcel of work of this sort.

For ourselves, we were very pleased to find that every one of the writings chosen for this set is already on our shelves or in our files – hence, the advantage of being completist Tolkien collectors! For example, a few of the essays were published earlier in Lee’s 2014 Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien, several appeared in Tolkien Studies or in the proceedings of the 1992 Tolkien Centenary Conference, and many are being taken from the 2000 festschrift for Christopher Tolkien, Tolkien’s Legendarium, edited by Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter, or from the proceedings of the 2004 Marquette University Tolkien conference, The Lord of the Rings 1954–2004: Scholarship in Honor of Richard E. Blackwelder (2006), edited by Hammond and Scull. Most teachers and students at a higher level will find most of these already in their institutional libraries or available online.


The Art of The Lord of the Rings

A few days ago, Amazon U.K. reduced the price of our Art of The Lord of the Rings significantly, to just £10.00. Sales are evidently brisk – in time for Christmas – for our book is once again in Amazon’s ‘best-selling’ ranks.

Turning Over a New Leaf

October 22, 2016

Williams College, where Wayne is the Chapin Librarian – that is, concerned with the Chapin Library of rare books and manuscripts – has produced a short video of Wayne performing one of his duties: turning a leaf in the original ‘double elephant folio’ edition of The Birds of America by John James Audubon. The very large dimensions of this book (originally issued as separate prints) allowed Audubon to depict the birds of North America at life size and in their natural habitat, if not without some contortion for very large birds such as the Great Blue Heron. Double elephant is a term for the size of the paper. (Contrary to the text at the beginning of the video, a new plate is displayed every two or three weeks.)

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