TOLKIEN, John Ronald Reuel (1892-1973). A collection of works in presentation, association and proof copies, and a series of fourteen letters, discussing the production of The Lord of the Rings, comprising:
A series of eleven autograph letters signed and three typed letters signed ('Ronald Tolkien', 'Tolkien', 'Ronald', and 'JRRT') to George Sayer (one to Mrs George Sayer), Oxford and London, 7 August 1952 - 11 December 1971 and n.d., 25 pages, 8° and 4°, in autograph, and 5½ pages, 4°, typewritten, three envelopes; with a transcription (presumably by Sayer) of runes from The Hobbit.
A. The Lord of the Rings:
The Fellowship of the Ring. London: Jarrold and Sons Limited for George Allen & Unwin Ltd, '1953' [sic]. 8° (218 x 140mm). (A few leaves lightly marked, pp.32-33 slightly affected by adhesive.) Original brown paper wrappers, the upper wrapper with pasted-on typewritten lettering-piece reading 'THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING , by , J.R.R. Tolkien', and ink inscription 'Not less than 21/- , nor more than 25/-' (slightly marked, corners a little dog-eared, short tears at head and tail of spine causing minor losses). PROOF COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. In this copy the number '12' on p.21 has been corrected in pencil, and the uncorrected errors on p.48, ll.13-14, p.166, l.41, and p.197, l.40 have been retained. The illustrations which occur on pp.59, 319 and 333 of the first edition have been omitted. For the first edition cf. Hammond and Anderson A5ai; West A20.
The Two Towers. London: Jarrold and Sons Limited for George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1954. 8° (223 x 143mm). (Short tear affecting text on 6/1, short marginal tears on 19/7, 21/3-4 and 22/8.) Original brown paper wrappers, with two typewritten lettering-pieces pasted onto upper wrapper, reading 'about 21s.' and 'THE TWO TOWERS , by , J.R.R. Tolkien' (corners slightly frayed, short tears at head and tail of spine). PROOF COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION. This copy has the incorrect 'all the season of the year' reading on p.111, l.34, but the correct 'may like' reading on p.350, l.31 (misprinted as 'maylike' in the first edition). For the first edition cf. Hammond and Anderson A5aii; West A21 (erroneously dated 1955).
The Return of the King. London: Jarrold and Sons Limited for George Allen & Unwin Ltd, '1954' [sic]. 8° (200 x 154mm). Circa 295 loose galley sheets, printed on rectos only, and the loose galley sheets of the Appendices, calligraphic manuscript title 'The Return , of the , King. , Appendices , pp.313-416' in Tolkien's hand, paginated 313-416, pp.379-383 and 401-403 in Tolkien's hand, corrected by Tolkien in red, blue and black inks, the first leaf with printer's inkstamp dated 29 June 1955 and dated by Tolkien 'received July 2'. (Some leaves a little frayed or occasionally torn and marked, p.360 erroneously inserted between pp. 377 and 378.) The main text in loose sheets, the Appendices held together with a paper fastener. PROOF COPY OF THE FIRST EDITION, THE APPENDICES CORRECTED THROUGHOUT BY TOLKIEN. For the first edition cf. Hammond and Anderson A5aiii; West A22.
(ii) First edition
The Fellowship of the Ring. London: Jarrold and Sons Limited for George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1954. 8° (221 x 140mm). Folding map and full-page map printed in red and black after Christopher Tolkien, line illustrations after J.R.R. Tolkien. Original red cloth titled in gilt on the spine, dustwrapper (spine slightly cocked, lower hinge split by folding map, dustwrapper torn across upper panel and at extremities causing minor losses). Provenance: 'George Sayer' (inscription on upper pastedown). FIRST EDITION. Hammond and Anderson A5ai; West A20.
The Two Towers. London: Jarrold and Sons Limited for George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1954. 8° (221 x 140mm). Folding map printed in red and black after Christopher Tolkien. (Small mark on text of pp.344-345.) Original red cloth titled in gilt on the spine, dustwrapper (spine slightly cocked, light marking on joints, dustwrapper lightly marked and with small tears causing minor losses at edges). FIRST EDITION. Hammond and Anderson A5aii; West A21 (erroneously dated 1955).
The Return of the King. London: Jarrold and Sons Limited for George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1955. 8° (219 x 140mm). Folding map printed in red and black after Christopher Tolkien. Original red cloth titled in gilt on the spine, dustwrapper (spine slightly cocked, dustwrapper lightly marked and with small tears causing minor losses at edges). FIRST EDITION, FIRST STATE, with signature '4' on p.49. Hammond and Anderson A5aiii; West A22.
B. Other Works
(iii) The Hobbit or There and Back Again. London: Unwin Brothers Limited for George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1959. 8° (184 x 121mm). Colour-printed frontispiece and line illustrations after Tolkien. Original decorated cloth, map endpapers and pictorial dustwrapper after Tolkien (slightly faded at foot of spine, dustwrapper with small, neatly-repaired tears at edges). Eleventh impression. SIGNED ON THE TITLE 'J.R.R. TOLKIEN'.
(iv) Farmer Giles of Ham ... or ... The Rise and Wonderful Adventures of Farmer Giles, Lord of Tame, Count of Worminghall and King of the Little Kingdom. London: Unwin Brothers Limited for George Allen and Unwin Ltd, 1949. 8° (199 x 130mm). Colour-printed frontispiece and plate, and line illustrations after Pauline Baynes. Original decorated cloth, dustwrapper with design after Baynes (edges of dustwrapper with minor tears and chipping). Provenance: B.H. Blackwell (bookseller's ticket on upper pastedown). FIRST EDITION. SIGNED ON THE TITLE 'J.R.R. TOLKIEN'. Hammond and Anderson A4; West A17.
(v) 'The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son'. Corrected proof sheets of pp.-18 of: Geoffrey BULLOUGH (editor). Essays and Studies 1953 Being Volume Six of the New Series of Essays and Studies Collected for The English Association. London: Wyman & Sons, Ltd for John Murray, 1953. 8° (216 x 140mm). Collation: [A]4-8 B1-4, 9 stapled leaves. (Variable light browning.) PROOF SHEETS, CORRECTED THROUGHOUT BY TOLKIEN. The manuscript corrections occur on each page (save 16 and 18), amending typographic errors and adding headlines to the rectos of ll. [A]5-B4. For Essays and Studies 1953 cf. Hammond and Anderson B21; West A19.
(vi) The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and other Verses from the Red Book. London: Jarrold and Sons Ltd for George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1962. 8° (222 x 142mm). Illustrations and decorations after Pauline Baynes, some printed in orange and black. Original paper-covered pictorial boards and pictorial dustwrapper after Baynes (edges of dustwrapper a little rubbed and with a few short, clean tears). FIRST EDITION. Hammond and Anderson A6; West A26.
(vii) Smith of Wootton Major. London: Unwin Brothers Ltd for George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1967. 12° (149 x 105mm). Frontispiece, line illustrations and decorations after Pauline Baynes. Original glazed-paper covered boards with design after Baynes (extremities lightly rubbed). FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE OF BINDING. PRESENTATION COPY, with inscribed slip tipped onto upper pastedown 'George , from J.R.R.T. , With best wishes to you , and Moira'. Hammond and Anderson A9a, binding 1; West A34.
(viii) The Road Goes Ever On A Song Cycle. Poems by J.R.R. Tolkien music by Donald Swann. London: John Dickens and Co Ltd for George Allen and Unwin Ltd, 1968. 4° (278 x 214mm). Printed in red, black and grey. Calligraphic decorations after Tolkien. Original paper-covered boards, dustwrapper with calligraphic design after Tolkien. FIRST ENGLISH EDITION. CARD SIGNED 'J.R.R. TOLKIEN' tipped onto front free endpaper, and George Sayer's invitation to the London premiere of The Road Goes Ever On tipped onto the upper pastedown. Hammond and Anderson B28b;West A32 (erroneously dated 1967).
Provenance: George Sayer (b.1914).
AN IMPORTANT COLLECTION OF LETTERS, PROOFS AND FIRST EDITIONS SHOWING THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE LORD OF THE RINGS.
The earliest letter in the series asks for the return of a manuscript of The Lord of the Rings, as George Allen & Unwin, the publishers, are now 'clamouring to reconsider' it; the following letter, to Mrs Sayer, refers to an 'astonishing dash to O[xford] and back' by Sayer with the manuscript, and promises 'plenty to [their] taste' in the second half of the work: 'It's pretty well a crescendo until at least Chap. 4 of the last "book". It is on the rallentando and the coda that I am specially anxious for your opinion'. A letter of December 1952 refers hopefully to publication, but by 8 March 1953 Tolkien has 'not even sent in any copy for the "Lord" yet ... it will have to go more or less as it is'; the same letter asks for suggestions for the titles for the individual volumes demanded by Allen & Unwin, and refers to the last book, 'minus on your advice the Epilogue, though I should like some other device for conveying the information it contains'. An undated letter written later the same month contains a new plea for help, this time in writing a publicity blurb for The Lord of the Rings: 'I find myself quite unable to think of anything that is not too apologetic for "publicity" or too much the reverse to contemplate. It is like being asked ... why you are fond of one of your children'. More than a decade later, in March 1966, two letters return to Tolkien's debt of gratitude for Sayer's help, and offer to send him an edition: 'you have never had any token of my gratitude to you for your great kindness and generous support and help in the matter of The L.R. in the dark days of doubt'; 'You did much! You made tape-recordings. You got estimates of printing costs. You were extremely kind to me, at a low ebb. And I believed your praise, somehow more than anyone else's'.
In addition to their involvement in the genesis of the Lord of the Rings, the Sayers were close friends, and the letters refer to Tolkien's delight in his visits to their home in Malvern - 'I resemble a hobbit at any rate in being moderately and cheerfully domesticated, though no cook' - and share anxieties and stresses - predominately over his work-load as a professor at Oxford, and about his wife's health and the difficulties of moving house - as well as pleasures - 'I am about to acquire, or should I say solicit the association of, a Cat'. Other literary ventures are referred to: his poem 'The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son' (see v above, Tolkien's corrected proof sheets) 'takes the form of a dramatic dialogue (in alliterative verse) between two 'Anglo-Saxons' after the Battle of Maldon - of about the length of the original poem!'. A series of letters in 1966 refer to the Tolkiens' golden wedding celebrations, as part of which Donald Swann is to perform one of his settings of Tolkiens' verse (see viii above); the last letter in the series briefly acknowledges condolences on his wife's death.
Whilst staying at Sayer's house in Malvern (where he taught English) in 1952, Tolkien made a series of recordings of extracts from The Lord of the Rings: it was his first encounter with a tape recorder, and he found it necessary to exorcise the machine by intoning the Lord's Prayer in Gothic into the mouthpiece - in two letters of Summer 1953 here Tolkien refers to his BBC recordings which were inspired by these experiments. In a letter to Rayner Unwin enclosing the Sayer's blurb for The Lord of the Rings Tolkien refers to Sayer as 'the most normal reader and liker of the work that I could think of ... the blurb ... surprised me ... 'greatest living poet' is absurd'.