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Lot #6152
J. R. R. Tolkien Autograph Letter Signed on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings

"It is largely about Bilbo’s magic ring, and Gandalf and Gollum are very important in it"—Tolkien on The Lord of the Rings, forewarning an 8-year-old reader that the Hobbits “get involved in very grim and rather frightening adventures”

Estimate: $25000+

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Server Time: 6/15/2024 10:10:42 PM EDT
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Description

"It is largely about Bilbo’s magic ring, and Gandalf and Gollum are very important in it"—Tolkien on The Lord of the Rings, forewarning an 8-year-old reader that the Hobbits “get involved in very grim and rather frightening adventures”

Magnificent ALS, one page both sides, 5.25 x 7, personal 76 Sandfield Road (Headington, Oxford) letterhead, December 28, 1961. Beautifully penned handwritten letter to eight-year-old fan Christopher Howard, in full: “Thank you very much indeed for your letter. I was very pleased to have it, and I liked learning about the parts that specially pleased you. I don’t think Nicky missed much, as ‘The Hobbit’ was specially written for reading aloud. Though, of course, it is, I think, more fun to do the reading, and there are lots of books that can only be taken in quietly by oneself.

I am sorry that I did not get this off in time to wish you both a Merry Christmas, since yours arrived in good time for my Christmas, but there is a lot to do just before the 25th. But I wish you a very happy New Year.

I have in fact written other books in which Hobbits play a main part, and Bilbo makes an appearance — though not as a chief character as he is getting very old (60 years have gone by) and the story began on his 111th Birthday. (Which he calls eleventy-first and not hundred and eleventh!). But this book or books is very long — (about 6 times as long as The Hobbit), and is in 3 volumes (1) The Fellowship of the Ring (2) The Two Towers (3) The Return of the King. It is largely about Bilbo’s magic ring, and Gandalf and Gollum are very important in it. I am afraid it’s very expensive, but it can be got out of any good public library. Some I am told keep several copies, as it is in demand. There is not much fun in it — though at the beginning, which is in Bilbo’s village, the Hobbits behave in their usual comic way; but they soon get involved in very grim and rather frightening adventures, which make old Smaug seem almost harmless by contrast.

If it is any colder in Lancashire than it is down here, then you must be frozen stiff. It was as cold here last night as in Sweden and has been freezing hard all day. I put some water out for the birds this morning at half past ten in the bright sunshine, and it was frozen solid by lunch time.” In fine condition. Accompanied by the original mailing envelope hand-addressed by Tolkien.

The recipient, Christopher Howard, was just an 8-year-old schoolboy when the great J. R. R. Tolkien replied to his letter in the waning days of 1961. Howard’s mother, an English teacher, would read bedtime stories to him and his younger brother at their home at ‘Asmall Lodge, Asmall Lane, Ormskirk, Lancashire.’ When they were old enough, ‘aged six and eight,’ she began reading The Hobbit. The book’s creative world prompted Howard to read it on his own. ‘The magical effect of reading words that created pictures in my mind amazed me,’ recalled Howard. ‘I could see the dragon, Smaug, in his lair, the Dwarves in their mountain halls, Wizards, Orcs, and of course, Hobbits.’

Curious if the author had written other books, Howard wrote a letter. His mother forwarded it to Tolkien’s publisher, George Allen & Unwin, which was relayed to Professor Tolkien, who replied to Howard on December 28, 1961. ‘Immediately, on seeing the envelope, in my mind, Professor Tolkien’s beautiful handwriting transported our home straight to Middle Earth. It became, ‘A small Lodge, A small Lane, Ormskirk, Lancashire.’’ The detailed reply, from the perspective of a Tolkien collector, was akin to finding the Arkenstone of Thrain, a great and wondrous jewel of amazing Middle-earth-related content. Penned gorgeously in his flowing, semi-florid handwriting, the letter offers an elusive double dose of Tolkien titles: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Letters from Tolkien that mention, or even allude to, either of these defining works are of exceptional desirability; that this example mentions both is, quite matter-of-factly, cause for excitement, as Tolkien letters of this ilk are rarely offered for public sale.

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Art, Literature, and Classical Music
  • Dates: May 22, 2024 - June 20, 2024





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