TOLKIEN, John Ronald Reuel (1892-1973)
TOLKIEN, John Ronald Reuel (1892-1973)
TOLKIEN, John Ronald Reuel (1892-1973)
TOLKIEN, John Ronald Reuel (1892-1973)
3 More
This lot is offered without reserve.
TOLKIEN, John Ronald Reuel (1892-1973)

Autograph letter signed ('JRR Tolkien') to Michael Bell, [Oxford] 'c/o Messrs Allen and Unwin, 40 Museum Street', 14 January 1969.

Details
TOLKIEN, John Ronald Reuel (1892-1973)
Autograph letter signed ('JRR Tolkien') to Michael Bell, [Oxford] 'c/o Messrs Allen and Unwin, 40 Museum Street', 14 January 1969.
Three pages, 177 x 135mm. Envelope. Provenance: by descent from the recipient.

'I am a hoarder far excelling the usual norm, almost in the dragon-class'; Tolkien returns a poem to a correspondent after many years, pausing to reflect on the grief of lost works, his love of verse and remaining sanguine in the face of literary criticism. Thirteen years ago, Tolkien begins, his correspondent wrote him a letter, enclosing a poem, but 'I was at that time (1956) not only immersed in correspondence about The Lord of the Rings, but also a busy college official, and university administrator (as well as a mere professor)' and committed 'the offence against gratitude and courtesy' of failing to reply; 'the trouble with "hoards"', he explains, 'is that they become quickly useless as one cannot find anything that one wants - without spending all one's time filing and cataloguing' and much of his correspondence before 1963 was never dealt with. Now, recently retired from Oxford and recuperating from an accident, 'I have unearthed from the lower layers much treasure and many neglects that now grieve me - too late'. Tolkien writes in the hope that Michael Bell's address remains the same, so that he might return the verses: 'If I had written it, I should grieve at its loss, even if I did not wish to publish it (I have lost a number of things in a similar way, and feel the loss)'. 'After some thirteen years in which I have been deluged with criticism - much of it contemptuous though I endeavour neither to resent, nor to be depressed, by it, as well as to remain 'unpuffed-up' by the opposite', kind words about his poetry elicit a sincere vote of thanks: 'My verse has been (even by admirers) usually the target of dispraise. I like it not so much because I wrote it, as because I like that kind (or those kinds) of verse and am amazed to find others that still do so too'.

The critical reception of Tolkien's literary work, including The Lord of the Rings, was often sharply divided, a fact to which he makes rueful reference here. In the wake of the enormous success of his most famous books, published between 1954 and 1955, his minor works of fiction, the translations, his early poems, and some academic essays were now eagerly published or republished, but he brought out no further major work. He retired as Merton chair of English language and literature at Oxford in 1959, but his admirers continued to seek him out: he cancels the printed Oxford address header here, noting 'I am in hiding from the Press etc.'.
Special notice
This lot is offered without reserve.

Brought to you by

Thomas Venning
Thomas Venning Head of Department

More from Valuable Books and Manuscripts

View All
View All