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Tolkien Notes 17

September 8, 2018

The Fall of Gondolin

We received today (in Massachusetts) our copies of the HarperCollins trade and deluxe editions of The Fall of Gondolin. Both are first printings. We ordered them in good time before publication on 30 August, and Amazon UK posted them that day. Their packaging, however, was weak relative to the weight of the two books (in one parcel), and from a Royal Mail note on the wrapping, appears to have come apart even before it began to cross the Atlantic. Royal Mail taped the package shut, which probably delayed onward shipping, and it arrived in our box in a plastic bag courtesy of the U.S. Postal Service. Fortunately, neither volume was damaged.


‘From Words to Pictures’

Catherine McIlwaine, Tolkien Curator at the Bodleian Libraries and curator of the Oxford exhibition ‘Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth’, has published an article, ‘From Words to Pictures’, in the Summer 2018 number (no. 56) of Illustration magazine. McIlwaine summarizes Tolkien’s creative endeavours, focusing on selected works of art he produced for ‘The Silmarillion’, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings. The watercolour painting Bilbo Comes to the Huts of the Raft-elves for The Hobbit is featured on the cover. Illustration is a fine quarterly publication (by Cello Press), each issue of which has articles on classic and contemporary illustration art.


‘Tolkien and the Visual Image’

We have been invited to give an illustrated public lecture on ‘Tolkien and the Visual Image’ at the Morgan Library and Museum, in connection with ‘Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth’ when it travels to New York from the Bodleian. We will be speaking in the evening on 31 January 2019, shortly after the exhibition opens on 25 January. Further details and ticket ordering will be available later this year through the Morgan Library website.

Tolkien Notes 16

September 2, 2018

Forty-five Years

We’ve been recalling our sadness when we read, in newspapers a day later, of the death of J.R.R. Tolkien forty-five years ago today. Christina was visiting her parents in Bristol, England, Wayne was still living with his parents in Brooklyn, Ohio while attending college. One thought, Will I ever see The Silmarillion? We had no idea then that so many unpublished works by Tolkien would be brought out, over so many years, let alone that we (who had not yet met) would have a hand in the process.



A few weeks ago we read on the Tolkien Society’s Facebook page of a new ‘special J.R.R. Tolkien edition’ of Newsweek magazine, obviously to coincide with the publication of The Fall of Gondolin on 30 August. Since there are no newsagents near us, we found a copy of the special magazine available on eBay. It’s heavily pictorial, and most of the photos are from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films, but remarkably, it includes two double-page spreads devoted to our Art of The Hobbit and Art of The Lord of the Rings. The former book is said to offer ‘a look at the artistic process that fleshed out Middle-earth in pencil and ink’ (well, watercolour too), while the latter explores ‘the Lord of the Rings trilogy [it’s not a trilogy!] in incredible detail’. We’re happy to have the publicity.


A Hole in the Ground

Every now and then a Tolkien enthusiast decides to construct, or have constructed, an actual hobbit-hole – or at least something along those lines. We visited perhaps the best-known of them, in Chester County, Pennsylvania, but many exist (just Google ‘hobbit house’). There are even firms which sell pre-fabricated ‘hobbit houses’ to install in the side of a hill – excavation and finishing not included. The latest article about a sort-of-Bag-End can be read on the website: ‘A “Lord of the Rings” Fan Makes His Dream Hobbit House’. Actually there are two ‘hobbit’ structures: the owner’s first attempt was a backyard shed, now home to a lawn tractor. The more elaborate of the two, Hobbit Hollow, has two bedrooms and two bathrooms in 1,500 square feet. It isn’t completely set into a hillside, but has windows front and back, and skylights. The result is interesting if vaguely industrial. Both structures have round door frames, but standard rectangular doors set into them; the Pennsylvania ‘hobbit house’ has an actual round door, with a custom-made hinge.


‘Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth’

By all reports, the Tolkien exhibition at the Weston Library of the Bodleian in Oxford, which runs until 28 October, has been consistently well attended. An enthusiastic review in the latest number of The Book Collector (Autumn 2018, p. 582) describes a crowd ‘packed, shoulder to shoulder . . . as silent and unmoving as that before the finest hanging of Rembrandts. One had the feeling it would have been the same had people had to pay.’ (Which they will when the show moves to the Morgan Library in New York this January.) Much of its charm, the reviewer says, comes from the intimacy of the exhibits, ‘lent by [Tolkien’s] four children’; would that this were possible, but John and Michael are no longer among the living.


New Books

Yesterday’s post brought the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt edition of The Fall of Gondolin and the HarperCollins paperback of The Story of Kullervo. Gondolin is a first printing, but Kullervo is a third. Even though we ordered Kullervo a year ago (when it was originally announced to appear), because we did so online we were at the mercy of the warehouse gods and got whatever is in stock. We had the same problem with the HarperCollins paperback Beren and Lúthien, i.e. we received a later printing from an online order, and had to hunt around shops when we were in London in May to find a first. HarperCollins sometimes have short print runs, which is hard on collectors but satisfies demand closer to real time and cuts down on copies stored in the warehouse.


Tolkien’s Spanish Connection

We’ve just written a review of a useful book by José Manuel Ferrández Bru, ‘Uncle Curro’: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Spanish Connection. The ‘connection’ is Father Francis Xavier Morgan, the Catholic priest who acted as guardian to Ronald and Hilary Tolkien after the death of their mother in 1904. Father Francis famously forbade Tolkien from seeing or writing to his beloved, Edith Bratt, for three years, until he came of age at twenty-one; but one can argue that this was for Tolkien’s own good, hard though it was, as it brought his attention back to his studies (extra-curricular interests such as Gothic, the invention of languages, and the writing of poetry notwithstanding). Ferrández Bru explores the life and ancestry of Father Francis in great detail, as well as his close relationship with the Tolkiens. Our review can be read in the online Journal of Tolkien Research.

Tolkien’s Published Art: A Revised List

July 11, 2018

The two books by Catherine McIlwaine issued in conjunction with the current Tolkien exhibition at the Bodleian Library, Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth and Tolkien Treasures, contain previously unpublished reproductions of Tolkien’s art, other reproductions not previously published in colour, and enlarged details which reveal intricate features of some of Tolkien’s paintings and drawings. Rather than try to indicate in our online Addenda and Corrigenda where these new reproductions would be inserted into our existing list of Tolkien’s published art, in the second volume of our J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: Reader’s Guide (2nd edn. 2017), we have made a new, revised version of the list and posted it on our website.

In the process, we took the opportunity to correct a few errors of formatting and to emend some inconsistencies of form, presentation, and classification, as well as our introductory note.

We are also compiling a list of pages, or parts of pages, of Tolkien’s literary manuscripts and typescripts which have been reproduced in various sources.

Adventures in England, Part Two: Oxford

July 2, 2018

Continued from Adventures in England, Part One: London


Wednesday, 30 May

Although we didn’t expect our room in Oxford to be available until mid-afternoon, we decided to make an early start from London. From Grosvenor Gardens we took the Oxford Tube, a coach which runs several times per hour, makes the journey to Oxford in around 90 minutes, and has a stop in the High Street almost outside of our hotel, The Old Bank. Staff kindly stored our bags until our room was ready, while we were out and about. For lunch we ate on George Street at the excellent Côte Brasserie.

At the Bodleian Library shop in the old quad we picked up some cards with Tolkien art, then spent time in Blackwell’s and in the new Bodleian shop attached to the Weston Library (the former New Bodleian). We had arranged to pick up four copies of the Tolkien exhibition catalogue in advance of publication: two trade hardbacks as our authors’ copies, and a trade paperback and deluxe hardback we had ordered. The staff were then clearing tables and shelves, preparing to put out Tolkien-related merchandise the next day.

At the Old Bank we were given (at a higher rate) a very nice room on the front of the building, overlooking the High, with window seats and a (non-functioning) fireplace. There was scaffolding in front of our windows, part of a renovation project, of which the hotel had warned us and gave us a discount for the inconvenience, but our view wasn’t badly blocked, and we never saw or heard anyone use the scaffolding. The only issue we had was on the Saturday night, when customers below us shouted and cheered very loudly until midnight over some sports match, and the sound carried.

On Wednesday night we had dinner at high table at Exeter College, to which we had been invited by the Rector, Sir Rick Trainor. Williams College has a cooperative arrangement with Exeter, whereby selected Williams students spend their junior year at Oxford. For the past two years, Exeter students have in turn come to Williams for two weeks in January, and Wayne has helped to teach them, using rare materials. Dinner at high table is a fascinating experience, part ritual, part socializing. This dinner happened to coincide with exam period, and the hall was filled with students in high spirits. As the days progressed, we saw many students on the streets hurrying to exams, each by tradition in ‘sub-fusc’ and gowns and with a carnation: white for the first exam, pink for those in the middle, red for the last (supposedly symbolizing the scholar’s life-blood poured into the effort).


Thursday, 31 May

While in Oxford we had our breakfasts at Quod, the restaurant in the Old Bank. Quod has good breakfast offerings, though still a limited selection. Christina usually had eggs benedict, but always asked for only one rather than the standard two, as she can eat only one and doesn’t like to waste food. After a couple of days, the restaurant charged for only one, half the menu price, which was very kind of them. Wayne usually had fried or poached eggs, with very good toast. One morning, he tried the banana pancakes but was disappointed to find that this was just regular pancakes with sliced banana.

After breakfast on Thursday we went to the admissions office at the Weston Library to renew our Bodleian reader’s cards, planning to do work in the Tolkien papers the following Monday. Admission was a smooth process – we had filled in the forms in advance, from the Libraries’ website, and had brought the required proof of address, etc., as well as our old cards – and since we planned to use material only in the Weston Library, that is, not in the Old Bodleian or at some other library at Oxford, we paid no fee.

From there we returned to the Weston shop, and were pleased to see that a wide array of exhibition merchandise has sprung up overnight; we had had reason to think that they would hold off until the evening opening. As it was still hours before the private reception and a day before the general public could see the exhibition, and most other Tolkien fans attending the opening had not yet arrived in Oxford, we more or less had our pick. Staff kindly arranged to have some of our purchases shipped to us (e.g. pillows and mugs), while we bought separately items we could more easily carry home (such as tote bags and small posters). We would return to the shop several times in the next days, as a few other items, such as the Tolkien Treasures book (a reduction of the main catalogue), were put out. We splurged on the deluxe set of reproductions of Hobbit art, leaving the Lord of the Rings set as we thought it less interesting a selection, and decided not to buy any of the jewelry based on Tolkien designs, as we thought that the various pieces didn’t convey the delicacy of the original art.

We spent the early afternoon looking in shops, and had lunch at the larger of two Prets in the Cornmarket. After changing, we were in Blackwell Hall, the lobby of the Weston Library, in good time for the preview of the Tolkien exhibition. While waiting, we looked at a small display of editions of Euclid’s Geometry and of books inspired by Euclid. We had been offered a private tour of the Tolkien exhibition by its curator, Catherine McIlwaine, and had signed up for the first of three, at 4.00. Others who had written for the catalogue, and additional guests such as Wayne’s friend from the Arthur Ransome Society, Christina Hardyment, were also there. We were torn between renewing acquaintances, or speaking with people we had not met before, and looking at the exhibition. Fortunately, we had already booked tickets for the exhibition on two other days.

Around 4.30 we were called away to sign copies of the Bodleian catalogue with our fellow authors, mainly for Bodleian or Oxford staff and friends. A production line was set up in a private room, and catalogues were quickly passed from one author to the other, from John Garth, to Verlyn Flieger, to Carl Hostetter, to Tom Shippey, and finally to us, according to the order of our contributions as printed. Some, with shorter names, were able to sign quickly; Wayne found it hard to keep up, with all of the curves in ‘Hammond’. Altogether we signed 82 copies in about an hour, then hurried back to the exhibition while we still had some time.

By then, guests (we heard that there were at least 300) had begun to arrive for a 6.00 reception. In the circumstances, we weren’t able to meet or speak with as many people as we would have liked, and apologize to those to whom we were able to say only a few words. We ran into Baillie Tolkien (Christopher’s wife) and Cathleen Blackburn (Tolkien Estate attorney) in the exhibition, and found Priscilla Tolkien in the crowd and confirmed a lunch date with her. We were delighted to see Colin Harris, former head of the Bodleian reading rooms, who gave us so much help over the years when we were doing research in the old Room 132. We also met many old friends from the Tolkien Society’s Northfarthing (London) Smial, as well as some Society members we hadn’t seen in a while, such as Pat and Trevor Reynolds. Brian Sibley and David Weeks were there, and David Bratman of Tolkien Studies, and several persons we knew only from the Internet. We also saw David Brawn and Chris Smith from HarperCollins, and were introduced to two representatives of Tolkien’s continental publishers.

Soon after 6.00 there were speeches by Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian, and Tolkien’s grandson Michael. Nearer 7.00, those of us with special dinner invitations were escorted across Broad Street to the Divinity School, the oldest part of the original Bodleian Library. Also at our table there were Carl Hostetter, Stuart Lee from Oxford, Shaun Gunner (Tolkien Society chair), scholar Dimitra Fimi, and artist Alan Lee. Unfortunately, the table was so large that one could mostly talk only with those immediately to one’s left or right: Christina was between Carl and Wayne, and Wayne between Christina and Catriona Cannon, Deputy Librarian of the Bodleian. Richard Ovenden spoke again briefly, and Baillie Tolkien spoke for the Tolkien family. Fortunately for us, the storm that blew through Oxford that evening began and ended while we were in the Divinity School, so we were spared having to deal with the rain and flooding of the streets.


Friday, 1 June

By 10.00 the next morning we were back in Blackwell Hall for the first of the ticketed viewings of the exhibition. Many others had booked for the first time slot also, so we saw many familiar faces. Before long there were many Tolkien scholars and enthusiasts in the exhibition room at the same time – now joined by, among others, Americans Lynn Maudlin and Bruce Leonard – and in the general excitement voices sometimes rose beyond the norm, further flustering the guards who, already dealing with bigger crowds than usually seen, were also having to warn people not to take photos, or that a backpack had to be either carried or worn on the front.

One enters the exhibition through a short hallway in which parts of a map of Middle-earth are projected on the floor and Tolkien’s design for the doors of Moria on the wall. Inside the gallery are nine glass cases, some very wide, containing manuscripts and works of art by Tolkien, artefacts such as pipes that Tolkien smoked and one of his writing desks, maps, books, and fan letters from the likes of then-future writer Terry Pratchett and singer Joni Mitchell. A great deal is compressed into a single large room. Jeremy Edmonds of the Tolkien Collectors Guide website, with Jason Fisher and Marcel Aubron-Bülles, has drawn a map and key to the show. The printed map of Middle-earth from The Lord of the Rings that the Bodleian purchased a few years ago, with annotations by Tolkien and Pauline Baynes preparatory to Pauline’s poster Map of Middle-earth, is on display (and available in reproductions), as are Pauline’s original paintings for A Map of Middle-earth and for her Hobbit map, There and Back Again. Slides of Tolkien manuscripts and art are projected within the gallery, there’s an interactive map for The Lord of the Rings as well as a three-dimensional map showing the progress of events in The Lord of the Rings, and there are two terminals at which one can test one’s knowledge of Elvish or hear Tolkien read.

We had held in our hands many of the items on display in the course of our Tolkien research, but any item can be seen in a new light when put on view behind glass and expertly lit, Tolkien’s art especially when taken out of the window mounts in which it’s stored. Even so, we were most interested in items we had never seen, some of which were lent by the Tolkien family, and we made many notes, for example of the details of Tolkien’s World War Two identity card. Wayne was told off by one of the guards for taking notes in pen rather than pencil; Wayne knew that one is supposed to use only pencil (or a computer keyboard) when working in a rare books library or archive, and as a rare books librarian himself always carries a pencil, but in more than forty years he has never known that rule to apply in an exhibition hall, where everything is behind glass!

As noon approached, we again visited the Bodleian shop, and on the steps of the Weston Library came upon some of our friends who were being interviewed by two women from BBC Radio. We stood by in case we were also wanted, and indeed spoke with the BBC crew, who had come to realize, as Wayne put it, that they had stumbled into a nest of Tolkien scholars; but they weren’t sure how to handle a pair of them at once. In the end we weren’t recorded, as the crew already had a lot ‘in the can’, and we’ve not been able to find that anyone recorded that day made it to the air or to the BBC website. Instead, the BBC released a video of a Tolkien fan who has ‘mastered Elvish and Dwarvish’ (serious enthusiasts will understand this necessarily involves a certain amount of invention).

That afternoon, we walked to Walton Street in the Jericho neighbourhood for a guided tour by Sir Rick Trainor of Cohen Quad, Exeter College’s new building on Walton Street which combines student accommodation, classrooms, a learning commons, a café, and – which Wayne was particularly interested to see – new rooms for the College’s rare books collection. The building is a good example of new construction on an existing and limited footprint, while retaining a historic façade, the exterior of the former Ruskin College. On arrival at the Quad, we were joined by Verlyn Flieger.

Following the tour, the two of us had a late lunch or early dinner at a restaurant further down Walton Street we had wanted to try, Brasserie Blanc. Around 6.00 we met many other Tolkien enthusiasts at the King’s Arms pub near the Weston Library. We were glad to have time to speak at least briefly, as far as speaking was possible over a general din, with Beregond (Anders Stenström) from Sweden, Yoko Hemmi from Japan, Andrew Ferguson (a Tolkien collector we had previously known only online), Daniel Helen from the Tolkien Society, scholars Nelson Goering, Holly Ordway, and Michael Ward, Laura Schmidt from the Marion E. Wade Center, Bill Fliss from Marquette, et al., as well as Tolkien Archivist Catherine McIlwaine from the Bodleian and, again, our Northfarthing friends.


Saturday, 2 June

This morning we had time to kill before meeting friends for lunch, so wandered to the Proscholium at the Old Bodleian to see a small exhibition on science in the First World War, to the shop at the Ashmolean Museum, to St Philips bookshop in St Aldate’s, and again to the Weston Library shop, where we added two more posters to our Tolkien-related purchases. As we still had time, we saw the other, smaller Bodleian exhibition, Sappho to Suffrage, on ‘achievements of women who dared to do the unexpected’, such as advocate for the vote.

In Blackwell Hall we met friends also going to the lunch scheduled for 1.00. Since Broad Street by this time was filled with a parade celebrating gay pride, we walked with Jeremy Edmonds along Parks Road, skirting the crowds, and came out to St Giles’ via Museum Road and the passage next to the Lamb and Flag. It had been suggested that we have lunch at the Eagle and Child in St Giles’, the best known of the pubs frequented by Tolkien and the Inklings, but lunch was in full gear, on a Saturday no less, and it was immediately clear that if we were to fit in the ‘Bird and Baby’ at all, we would be scattered. Instead, we crossed the road again and were able to claim the back room at the Lamb and Flag, which had also been an Inklings pub.

While at lunch, we learned from Laura Schmidt that Taruithorn, the Oxford Tolkien group, was having a strawberry picnic in the Masters Garden at Christ Church and that we would be welcome to attend. We trooped there, and after John Garth made inquiries, were able to get to the right place, away from the tourists who come to see a college associated with Lewis Carroll and (in the movies) Harry Potter. Wayne thought that it was very much an Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland moment, as the picnic was at the edge of a croquet lawn.

Eventually we made our way back to the Old Bank, to rest before going to dinner at the home of our friend Christina Hardyment, author of Arthur Ransome and Captain Flint’s Trunk, among much else. This was just a short bus ride west of central Oxford. We had a lovely meal and a walk in Christina’s extensive garden, also with Samuel Fanous, head of Bodleian publishing whom we had met at the exhibition opening, Peter Groves, the vicar of St Mary Magdalen in Oxford, who by chance had also been at high table at Exeter, and Peter’s wife Beatrice, of Trinity College, Oxford, author of Literary Allusion in Harry Potter.


Sunday, 3 June

After a quiet morning, we were picked up by our friends Jane, Chris, and Eileen for lunch at The Perch, northwest of Oxford on the Thames. The Perch attracts many visitors, not only because of its age (parts date to the 17th century) and the quality of its food, but because it was a favourite of Lewis Carroll, C.S. Lewis, and Inspector Morse. Although the restaurant area was crowded, we had a good table, the weather was lovely, and The Perch puts on a substantial Sunday lunch. Afterward, we wandered through a patch of woods down to the river.

We had hoped to meet another friend for dinner, but this plan unfortunately fell through. Instead, we went to Quod for a light meal.


Monday, 4 June

A busy day. We were at the Weston Library when it opened, navigated the security gates, found the lovely new reading rooms, and picked up material we had pre-ordered from the Tolkien papers. There were several things we wanted to recheck that we had been unable to see again in earlier years (when we were writing the first Companion and Guide), due to the papers being processed and so unavailable. We were also able to have a few words again with Catherine McIlwaine, and were pleased to chat more with Colin Harris who, though retired, volunteers at the Library.

We interrupted our work at midday to have lunch, as arranged, with Priscilla Tolkien at the restaurant in the Cotswold Lodge. We try to see Priscilla whenever we’re in Oxford and always have a lovely time. Afterward, we returned to the Weston, completed our work, and said goodbye to some of our friends, other Tolkien scholars taking advantage of being in Oxford to visit the Bodleian, as we weren’t sure we would see them all again before we flew home on Wednesday. On the way back to the hotel, we picked up sandwiches from Pret to eat in our room.


Tuesday, 5 June

After a morning meeting, we had lunch again at Côte Brasserie, then went back to the Weston. We had booked to go the exhibition again this morning at 10.00, but had had to miss it; however, Catherine McIlwaine kindly arranged for us to get passes for 2.00 p.m., and we spent another hours and a half among the displays, making sure that we didn’t miss anything. Some of our friends were there again as well, and we were able to say hello to Andrew Higgins (editor with Dimitra Fimi of A Secret Vice) who had not been able to attend earlier. At the shop we bought up yet another of the larger Tolkien posters, which we added to the items to be shipped.

For dinner, rather than go to Côte yet again, as we had just been there for lunch, we went to Zizzi’s further along George Street. Afterward we wished that we had gone to Côte after all, as the food is better there and the rooms less noisy. Then it was back to the Old Bank to pack for our return flight. Now we broke out a fourth (soft) bag we always carry with us, to accommodate our copies of the Bodleian catalogue as well as, inevitably, a few more books acquired while in Oxford: Tolkien Treasures, a reduced version of the Maker of Middle-earth catalogue but worth having in its own right, and two used titles from the Oxfam shops in St Giles’ and the Turl.


Wednesday, 6 June

In the morning we took a coach to Heathrow, and as we were returning on in first class were able to have a nice lunch in the Concorde Room lounge (including, for Wayne, a ‘vegetable broth’ which was less broth than bisque, and much the better for it), then relax until boarding a 5.00 flight, to arrive in Boston at 7.40 local time. This journey was less fraught than our outward flight, with good service from British Airways and an excellent in-flight meal, and thanks to a helpful young agent in Boston we navigated the unintuitive new Immigration passport and fingerprint readers at Logan without too much delay. We returned to the Courtyard hotel for the night, and drove home the next morning, shopping for groceries and picking up our held post on the way.

Although we had read a proof of the Bodleian’s Tolkien catalogue before our trip, now we had ahead of us a closer reading and analysis, to pick out information to include in our online addenda and corrigenda. We also can look forward to a version of the Tolkien exhibition crossing the Atlantic to the Morgan Library in New York at the end of January 2019.

Adventures in England, Part One: London

June 30, 2018

When the Bodleian Library asked us last year to write an essay on Tolkien as a visual artist for Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth, the catalogue of the Library’s new exhibition, we were happy to do so. We were also happy to be invited to a special preview, reception, and dinner at the Bodleian on 31 May, prior to the general opening on 1 June. This gave us a very good excuse for another visit to England, after a gap of two years. We arranged to stay nine nights in London and seven in Oxford, and to do some further research among the Tolkien papers in the Bodleian.


Monday, 21 May

We drove to Boston on Sunday, 20 May, and stayed over night at the Courtyard Logan Airport. We left our car there on a ‘park and fly’ plan. On Monday the 21st we woke early for British Airways’ morning flight. Since we were flying business class, we were able to relax before boarding in a newly renovated lounge. For some reason, boarding was delayed, then haphazard, with too many passengers trying to settle into their seats at once. Departure was also delayed in turn, by about forty minutes, and this seems to have put the flight attendants out of sync. They forgot to ask (or to ask us, at least) about tea or coffee after brunch, which was served unusually late, or about drinks at any time, and Christina had to ask for some things twice. There weren’t enough meals of all kinds of the brunch listed on the menu to go around, nor had any amenity kits been loaded for our cabin. A tapas plate was offered as refreshments only just before landing, in a rush. Also, apparently no amenity kits had been loaded for our cabin, and the aging entertainment system had to be rebooted. One expects better from business class, and we’ve usually had it from BA.

Once off the plane at Heathrow, around 7.00 p.m. London time, we breezed through Immigration and Customs – we now know that Wayne, as her spouse, goes with Christina to a desk for U.K. citizens – did not have to wait long for our luggage to appear, and soon caught a Heathrow Express train to Paddington station. From there we took a taxi to the Rosewood, our hotel in High Holborn.


Tuesday, 22 May

We began our first full day in London with breakfast at the Holborn Dining Room, adjacent to the hotel. We ate there on alternate mornings – the restaurant is pleasant, but limited in dishes we like (mostly eggs and toast) – at other times picking up something from one of the small supermarkets nearby or eating at Pret a Manger (or simply Pret), which has branches everywhere. By 10.00 we were at the British Library to see their exhibition James Cook: The Voyages, 2018 being the 250th anniversary of the first of Captain Cook’s three voyages to the Pacific. The display was well designed, but featured perhaps too many of the same kind of object – after a while, manuscript journals begin to look alike. Apart from the expected catalogue and books on Cook, the Library shop had a disappointing selection: it seems to have fewer scholarly books and more books and gifts aimed at tourists each time we visit.

After a sandwich at the Pret across the street from the Library, we went to the Illustration Cupboard in St James’s, which was showing illustrations by Angela Barrett for The Emperor’s New Clothes, and then to Hatchards in Piccadilly, our favourite general London bookshop. Although Hatchards is owned by Waterstones, it’s a more elegant, dare we say more civilized shop, and its buyers are more eclectic in what they choose to offer. We had a very pleasant talk with one of the staff about our own publications and about Tolkien publishing in general. As usual, we found a few titles to note for later purchase, but bought there a copy of the catalogue for the Edward Bawden exhibition we would be seeing at Dulwich on Sunday.

Finally, we visited Beetles, the art dealer in St James’s, to pick up the latest catalogues of their more or less annual exhibitions of British and American illustration. We now have almost a shelf of these very useful reference books.

Dinner was at the Spaghetti House in Sicilian Avenue near our hotel.


Wednesday, 23 May

This morning we saw Monet and Architecture at the National Gallery. Unusually, the exhibition labels weren’t attached to the walls, but printed in a small booklet to be referred to as wanted. This meant that there were no crowds blocking the view while everyone tried to read a label (rather than look at the art), and with no labels to read (not everyone bothered with the booklet), viewers moved along quickly. We ourselves had read the catalogue of the exhibition in advance, so knew the material. Once finished with Monet, we looked at the general collection in other parts of the Gallery, picking out works we had seen referenced in various books. We also visited the Gallery bookshop, which always has an extensive selection, including titles not seen elsewhere.

From the museum in Trafalgar Square we wandered up Charing Cross Road, stopped in Pordes which has good remainders, looked in windows of bookshops in Cecil Court, and browsed for a while in Foyles bookshop, which still impresses us as so much improved over the well-stocked but haphazard place it used to be. We could stay in Foyles only a short time, however, as we had booked a 2.30 lunch at The Ivy in Covent Garden, one of our favourite London restaurants and a popular place for actors and businesspeople.

Afterward, we returned to finish looking in Foyles, where we found a first printing of the paperback edition of Tolkien’s Beren and Lúthien (others had reported finding only later printings, so we had been checking stock in every shop). Since we had had a late and substantial lunch, we wanted only a snack in the evening.


Thursday, 24 May

On Thursday morning we walked around the corner in Holborn to catch up on the restoration of Sir John Soane’s Museum. Christina had worked at the Soane for more than twenty years as its Librarian, and it was where we had our wedding reception in 1994. Soane (1753–1837) was an important architect whose former home in Lincoln’s Inn Fields is preserved, along with his fascinating collections of art and artefacts (Hogarths and Canalettos, but also an Egyptian sarcophagus), as Britain’s smallest national museum. It has become very popular, and was crowded when we visited, though it was still early and not the weekend. In its shop Christina picked up some of the Museum’s most recent publications, which are always well-written and attractive.

From the Soane we went to Sloane Square to pick up a shuttle bus to the Antiquarian Booksellers Association fair in Battersea Park. Wayne had his librarian’s hat on for a couple of hours as we browsed the booths and he spoke with dealers. At one he bought for the Chapin Library a presentation copy of William Wilberforce’s 1823 Appeal to abolish slavery throughout the British colonies. We found nothing for ourselves at the fair, or at Judd’s Books in Bloomsbury where we went later that afternoon.

After resting at our hotel, we had dinner in an Italian restaurant with our friends Brian Sibley (co-writer of the 1981 BBC Radio dramatization of The Lord of the Rings) and his partner David Weeks.


Friday, 25 May

We spent most of Friday morning at Leighton House, the former home and studio in Holland Park of the eminent Victorian artist Frederic, Lord Leighton (1830–1896). Designed by George Aitchison, the house was built initially in 1865 and later enlarged and remodelled. After Leighton’s death its contents were sold, but the house remained, and in recent years has undergone heroic restoration to return it as close as possible to its appearance in Leighton’s day. Some of its original art and furnishings are there, together with reproductions. There are ambitious plans to further restore the building to what Leighton intended, and to enlarge it for administrative and educational purposes, not an easy task in a residential neighbourhood. We bought two Leighton House publications, one on Leighton’s famous painting Flaming June, which have been interesting to read.

From Holland Park we went to High Street Kensington station, and after lunch at a Pret, to West Brompton, the new site of the Provincial Booksellers Fairs Association antiquarian book fair (largely a different set of dealers from those at the ABA fair). There was a kerfuffle before the doors opened, when the fair administrators insisted that bags had to be checked in the cloakroom, even ladies’ handbags, and that anything carried inside the dealers’ room had to be in a smallish clear plastic bag provided. We complied, but after only a few minutes among the booths were annoyed to see later comers carrying handbags, shoulder bags, etc. We considered a few books for ourselves, but thought the prices too high: titles at past PBFA fairs were more moderately priced. Maybe because of the cost of having a booth at the fair, dealers are now pricing almost comparably to those at ABA events, though at PBFA there still tends to be more material at the lower end of the market (such as that now is). Wayne refused to pay £25 for a recent paperback book on artist Edward Bawden, and that was just as well as he found the same title for £10 at Dulwich two days later.

From the fair we went to one of our usual stops in Bloomsbury, Skoob Books, where Wayne found a seriously underpriced copy of a book on printer J.H. Mason. Later we had a very good dinner at the Mirror Room restaurant in our hotel (excepting only the lobster bisque, which was less bisque than soup).


Saturday, 26 May

Today we visited the British Museum to see Rodin and the Art of Ancient Greece, about the influence of Greek art on Rodin’s sculpture and drawing. The display was well designed, and again we prepared by reading the printed catalogue. The Museum was wall to wall with tourists, who now have to pass through an extra layer of security at the Great Russell Street gate. We were pleased to see in the Rodin show two young girls sprawled on the floor with sketchbooks, making drawings of sculpture. In the Museum shop Christina found two slim books about British treasure hoards.

In the afternoon we went for the first time to the House of Illustration, founded in 2014 by artist Sir Quentin Blake and dedicated to (what else?) illustration art. The galleries are in a reclaimed industrial building in Granary Square north of St Pancras station. The main exhibition featured the work of Enid Marx (1902–1998), an artist known especially for her pattern designs and a fellow student at the Royal College of Art with other artists Wayne likes, such as Edward Bawden and Eric Ravilious.

Rather than eat another lunch at the ubiquitous Pret, we went to the Fortnum & Mason satellite shop in the busy rail station. We were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the food (a lovely hake) and the elegance of the surroundings. Later that afternoon we went to the big Waterstones bookshop in Piccadilly, where we always find a few books to buy or at least to note; Christina found a Soane Museum publication which hadn’t been available in their shop, and Wayne bought a modern sequel to John Buchan’s ‘thrillers’ (such as The Thirty-Nine Steps) which however was not nearly as good as the genuine item.

Dinner consisted of snacks in the room, as we had eaten so well for lunch.


Sunday, 27 May

Up early to catch the Underground and then a bus to the Dulwich Picture Gallery (a Soane-designed building) and its exhibition Edward Bawden. We got there early enough, before the doors opened, to stop briefly in the café. Wayne has admired Bawden’s often quirky art for many years – illustrations, posters, advertising, but also independent watercolours and works he made during World War Two as an official war artist – and collects his books in a modest way. Bawden (1903–1989), and his friend Eric Ravilious, and to a degree other British artists in that circle, have become much better known recently. The Dulwich show, somewhat crowded on a pleasant Sunday, included much that we had not seen before, at least not in the original.

Although we had considered having lunch at Dulwich, by midday the café was full, so we returned to central London and went to the main Fortnum & Mason’s shop in Piccadilly. Despite crowds there too – Fortnum’s is a major tourist attraction – we were able to get a nice table at the window in their Gallery restaurant. From Fortnum’s we went across the street to the Royal Academy, but most of their rooms had not yet reopened following renovations, and the shop had minimal stock. As we still had most of the afternoon free, we went to the Tate Gallery in Pimlico, browsed their shop, and looked at the current William Blake display.

Dinner was again at the Spaghetti House in Sicilian Avenue.


Monday, 28 May

This morning we had tickets for Ocean Liners: Speed and Style at the Victoria & Albert Museum, a splendid show, much more striking than the accompanying book, on the great liners from construction to decoration to the high life of upper-class passengers. This too had a Bawden connection: he had designed a Wedgwood pattern for the Orient Line, which was displayed. Especially effective were a gallery built to look like a promenade deck, with a procession of (simulated) ships passing by on a gigantic screen, and one with a metal floor and low-frequency sound effects, simulating a ship’s engine room. We also booked on the spot for the exhibition Fashioned from Nature, which was divided into a lower gallery, on the use of feathers, fur, etc. in clothing and its effect on animal populations, and an upper gallery, on fashion inspired by nature or designed for sustainability.

We spent as much if not more time at the V&A looking at their newest construction as well as seeking out the earliest parts of its architecture, some of which have been beautifully restored. We had read Julius Bryant’s 2017 book, Designing the V&A, which had piqued our interest. Our midday meal at the V&A café was in a room designed by Sir Edward Poynter (1836–1919), one of three that comprise the café space. Later we took a break in the room designed by William Morris. (We thought the large centre room, by James Gamble, too noisy.)

From the V&A we went to the nearby South Kensington Bookshop, which always has interesting remainders and overstocks. Wayne picked up five books in the areas of art and design. Finally, we had an early dinner at The Good Earth, a pleasant Chinese restaurant in the Brompton Road.


Tuesday, 29 May

On Tuesday morning Wayne was in librarian mode again as we visited the antiquarian bookseller Maggs Bros. in Bedford Square. He found some good Americana for the Chapin Library and explored books related to China for future purchase. We also took in a display of work by the Designer Bookbinders. Lunch was nearby with Helen Dorey, Deputy Director and Inspectress of the Soane Museum, with whom Christina used to work and has remained in touch.

By the time we finished our meals and conversation, it was thundering and pouring rain, the only very bad weather we had on our trip. We dove into the Underground station at Holborn and rode the tube to London Bridge station, as we had an afternoon appointment with our editors at HarperCollins. That evening we were able to have an advance look at the new facsimile of the 1937 Hobbit, having been given a copy as the facsimile is accompanied by a booklet containing part of our article on The Hobbit for The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide. Also in the booklet is the first publication of Tolkien’s 1938 lecture on dragons at the Natural History Museum in Oxford; we had lent our uncorrected transcription to HarperCollins as reference for their own.

On returning to our hotel, we decided to eat again at the Mirror Room before devoting the evening to packing for Oxford. This involved fitting into the three bags we brought from home not only our clothes and such, but also 20 new books and other odds and ends (such as an Ocean Liners tote bag and a William Morris-pattern apron) we had acquired in London.


Next: Adventures in England, Part Two: Oxford.

Truth or Consequences, Again

May 19, 2018

More than eight years ago, as we announced in this space, we wrote a paper for the ‘Scholars Forum’ section of the once very active Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza website, ‘Truth or Consequences: A Cautionary Tale of Tolkien Studies’, concerned with the use (or abuse) of evidence in writing about Tolkien. While the Plaza is down for reconstruction, following a serious hack, we’ve posted our paper on our own website so that it will be available. In doing so, we have not checked for broken links, though we know there are some, certainly those to other posts on the Plaza.

Despite the passage of eight years – has it really been that long? – we think that ‘Truth or Consequences’ holds up pretty well.

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.

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