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Item 420 - J. R. R. Tolkien Catalog 574 (Jan 2020)

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ALS, one page both sides, 4.5 x 7, Merton College letterhead, October 22, 1955. Letter to "Mr. Mitchell," about reading Lord of the Rings. In full: "How very kind of you to write! I am delighted to gather from your letter that Vol. III came up to the mark, and more or less paid the great debts accumulated in II and I. If my signature is worth the expense, I will gladly sign your 3 vols. as some return for your kind words, if you care to send them. Since the book was only published on Oct. 20 (and my own copies only arrived this morning) I am wondering how by Oct. 18 you had managed to finish reading Vol III* (I can, of course, guess the answer, or probable answers.) Anyway a happy chance, since your kind letter was as a result the first echo of news of its reception that an anxious author received.

I have now several heavy professional commitments to attend to; but I do not intend to lay down the pen. I do not think I shall continue the tale downwards. But the (quite unlooked-for) success of the 'Lord of the Rings' has now made it probable that the legends of the First and Second Ages ('The Silmarillion' and other tales)—written first and often referred to—which were long ago turned down, may now be accepted. They would occupy as much space at least as Vol. 1: but alas! They are mainly very high and legendary and elvish, and contain no hobbits to bring them down to common soil." In fine condition, with scattered light creasing.

Although Tolkien returned to his earlier rejected drafts, he continued to intermittently revise them for the rest of his life without ever coming to completion. Contrary to his hopefulness for imminent publication in this letter, these legends went unpublished until they were posthumously compiled and edited by his son and released in 1977. The Silmarillion tells the history of the First and Second Ages of Middle-Earth, the world in which The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are set. A magnificent letter discussing Tolkien's great works and one of the earliest on record immediately after publication of Lord of the Rings.

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