Lot 345
  • 345

Tolkien, J.R.R.

15,000 - 25,000 USD
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  • Two Autograph letters signed to William Galbraith. Oxford, 8 March 1965; 12 April 1956  
  • paper, ink
Three pages (6 15/16 x 5 1/4 in; 169 x 132 mm), signed "J.R.R. Tolkien" and "J.R.R.T.", in brown ink, on author's embossed stationery of 76 Sandfield Road, Oxford. Envelope, addressed in Tolkien's hand. [with]: 2 pages (10 3/16 x 8 in.; 259 x 203 mm) typed letter signed "William Galbraith" in black ink, written from Shabbington, Aylesbury, and dated 7 March 1956. 


William Galbraith

Catalogue Note

A PARTICULARLY CANDID LETTER, ADDRESSING THE LORD OF THE RINGS, from the author, in response to William Galbraith, who conveys his disappointment regarding the omission of the index of names from the third volume of The Lord of the Rings, queries the nature of Tolkien's future works, his parallels with C.S. Lewis, whether or not the trilogy is a veiled response to the atomic bomb, and the relationship of the locations in the trilogy to actual landscapes.

Tolkien graciously replies, addressing each of the points posed, noting: "I did do a lot of work on the Index—it was partly responsible for the regrettable delay of Vol. iii." He then discusses his plans for publishing The Silmarillion, "written naturally first, but long ago rejected." More generally, Tolkien's tone of appreciation is unmistakable as he generously writes: "So I am most in interested in and grateful for your remarks. I mean: I of course like the High Elvish and mythical and heroic stuff, but have developed rather cold or cool feet about it, since it is a hobitless and even partly manless world; and in general it seems that unsalted with the colloquial and vulgar hobbitry many cannot stomach a lot of it!"  With regard to C.S. Lewis, Tolkien explains: "I should think it quite permissible to consider C.S. Lewis, since he is my close friend, heard all of the Lord bit by bit as it was written, and apart from my children is almost the only person who has heard the Silmarillion or the (verse) Lay of the Luthien. We have doubtless affected one another, at any rate superficially [...]. But I do not think we have similar 'ideas' about the Moon." Near the end of the letter, Tolkien explains: "As for geography, my original notion of clearly relating the land-mass to historical shapes (or prehistorical) proved too difficult; but in a general way there is of course supposed to be a relation; and I think your arrangement good enough. The Shire is anyway, of course, supposed to occupy approximately the position of England, which puts Mordor about in Greece or the Aegean. 'Climate' at any rate fits fairly well." 

Sent with this letter is a separate note, dated 12 April 1956, in which Tolkien apologises for the slow nature of his reply. "I have no idea why the enclosed was not posted. [...] I hope, if you feared that "surfeit" had made me uncivil and ungrateful, the belated reply will make amends. J.R.R.T."