ALS, one page both sides, 5.25 x 7, personal letterhead, January 7, 1960. Letter to K. F. Mawson in Wakefield, in full: "Thank you very much indeed for your appreciative letter. Your reading, and the tastes in it, seem very much like my own; though I now find it difficult to come across anything that holds my attention. Also I seldom read anything twice! Certainly 'The Lord of the Rings' required a great deal of labour; and much of the material wasn't actually published. The book had to be written backwards as well as forwards and being unable to afford professional typists, I typed it all twice and some parts several times; and I am only a two-finger amateur. However, very much was written long before the Lord of the Rings (and refused by publishers): all the matter of the First and Second Ages, especially the legends 'potted' in Appendix A, and I am now actually under contract to produce some of it in book-form. It is not getting on very fast, I fear, as I have alas! much else to do; and it is not easy to co-ordinate it and give it a central theme and plot.
The Lord was broadcast to schools once in readings covering about three months—one result was to bring me a letter from a man actually called Sam Gamgee, who was as much puzzled as I was alarmed. As S. G. was cast for an heroic part all was well, but for some time I lived in fear of having a letter signed S. Gollum. No doubt one day a cheaper edition may be made available (The Hobbit, I hear, is to be produced by 'Puffins'). Thank you (and your wife) again for your expressions of pleasure—my prime object in writing. I also appreciate very much your noble effort to buy the book, costly as it is. As I am now retired, I depend mainly on royalties." In fine condition. Accompanied by the original mailing envelope addressed in Tolkien's hand.
A fascinating letter on the labors of producing his iconic work, concluding with a humorous aside on real-life namesakes of his famous characters. In Tokien's foreword to the second edition of Lord of the Rings, he struck a similar tone in describing the plodding pace of his writing: 'It was during 1944 that, leaving the loose ends and perplexities of a war which it was my task to conduct, or at least to report, I forced myself to tackle the journey of Frodo to Mordor. These chapters, eventually to become Book Four, were written and sent out as a serial to my son, Christopher, then in South Africa with the RAF. Nonetheless it took another five years before the tale was brought to its present end; in that time I changed my house, my chair, and my college, and the days though less dark were no less laborious. Then when the 'end' had at last been reached the whole story had to be revised, and indeed largely re-written backwards. And it had to be typed, and re-typed: by me; the cost of professional typing by the ten-fingered was beyond my means.' A marvelous letter concerning the creation of one of the iconic literary works of the 20th century.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.