Lot 789
  • 789

# - Tolkien, J.R.R. Two autograph letters signed, one typed letter signed and one typed letter signed with initials to Pauline Gasch [née Baynes] regarding the illustration of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (1962)

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In the first letter Tolkien notes the genesis of the volume:

The notion really originated with an old lady, who for some reason is specially fond of Tom Bombadil, as he appears in ``The Lord of the Rings''. She thought that more about him, with pictures, would make a nice little book. So I naturally thought at once of you; and dug out the original verses about Tom that appeared long ago in a magazine.

Hoping that the verses ``...will at least amuse...'', Tolkien confesses doubt as to the cohesion of the collection (``...few of them really consort with Tom Bombadil, who is ra[t]her an odd creature'') and hopes that the illustrator will be moved ``to make some of your wonderful pictures''.

In the second letter Tolkien hopes that Baynes is ``still thinking kindly of cooperating'' and discusses a Swedish translation of Farmer Giles of Ham which he recently received (being ``...again struck by the enormous importance (to that little squib) of your work.'') Recalling his love of trees the author states he has ``...not cut down my three beautiful birches (grown from seedlings) yet; and I should arrest myself at once, if I detected any movement on my part in that direction'' and concludes with comments on the weather.

In the third letter, Tolkien notes his admiration of Baynes' working practices and laments his own (``...I very much admire and approve your wisdom and strength of mind in finishing one thing before becoming involved in another. I wish I could do this, or my circumstances would allow me to!'') He again asks for Baynes to work on the book (``...this project was from the outset conceived (by me) as one to which your help was essential...'') and hopes for a visit. Tolkien comments on the text and notes ``though on the surface `lighthearted' these things have a serious undercurrent, and are not meant at any point to be merely comic, perhaps excepting Sam Gamgee's stuff''. He concludes with a list of corrections to the text.

The final letter, signed `J.R.R.T.', records Tolkien's reaction to the first batch of pictures produced for the book:

I am delighted. I do not think that they could have been more after my own heart. I am not surprised: I felt certain that anything you produced would delight me -- and make me deeply envious of your skill.

He concludes by hoping that the illustrator is ``...not feeling too pressed'' and, again, provides a statement on his own working practices

If you work in any way like I do, the final forms of these things must cost much time and thought. All I can say is that I sympathize: I have been obliged to work so much under pressure (and distraction), when my natural tendency is to unlimited refinement of detail. But I have sometimes found... that pressure digs up some inspiration...

7 pages, 4to and 8vo, 76 Sandfield Road, Oxford, 23 November 1961 to 3 August 1962, minor tears to extremities of first letter, two ink spots to fourth letter This lot contains 1 item(s).

Catalogue Note

Tolkien's ``old lady'' who asked for the story of Tom Bombadil to be extended was his aunt, Jane Neave (see lot 781). The original poem appeared in the Oxford Magazine in 1934. In approaching his publishers, Tolkien noted that the book might ``do well'' if accompanied by illustrations by Pauline Baynes. By December 1961 Pauline Baynes had agreed to work on the volume and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil was published in November 1962.