4 December 2018
TOLKIEN, J.R.R. (1892-1973). Autograph manuscript, headed "The Lord of the Rings III," being late revisions to Return of the King, book six, chapter two, n.p. [spring 1955].
One page, 155 x 190mm, in brown ink, with copy editors' markings in red, blue, black, and pencil (some short repaired edge tears). Matted and framed together with "A Map of Middle-Earth" after Pauline Baynes. Provenance: Sotheby's, 21 July 1992, lot 183.
"Just how far is it to Mount Doom?"—a manuscript leaf for the last book in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. This manuscript makes six corrections to the chapter, "The Land of Shadow" in which Sam Gamgee and Frodo Baggins traverse the wastes of Mordor. The names "Sam" "Frodo" "Rivendell" "Mordor" and "Isenmouthe" all are present in Tolkien's own characteristic hand. Most of the corrections relate to figuring the distance traveled by Sam and Frodo. Where Tolkien has written, "seven leagues or more", the copy editor exclaims that this is forty miles at least. A few calculations appear in pencil. The longest passage is one in which Sam is trying to recollect a map he saw in Rivendell. Here the editor has lengthened all of the specific distances written by Tolkien to the final versions which appear in editions today (ten leagues to twenty, fifty miles to sixty, etc). An unknown editor has written on the verso in apparent exasperation: "Just how far is it to Mount Doom?"
Tolkien was still working on the ending and the complicated appendices to Lord of the Rings after Return of the King was already typeset. The changes present were written just a few months before publication and after the main body of manuscript had already been returned to Tolkien. That main manuscript and the manuscripts for Tolkien's other literary works were purchased by the far-seeing librarian at Marquette University in 1957. Tolkien manuscripts outside of Marquette are therefore extremely rare. The present, along with the annotated proofs with which it was sold in 1992, are the only manuscripts for the original edition of The Lord of the Rings which appear in the auction records of ABPC.
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