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Re: Another Tolkien eBay Letter

Subject: Re: Another Tolkien eBay Letter
by Findegil on 2009/11/21 13:40:25

Like the "Higgins" letters and the one supposedly to Walter Hooper, we strongly doubt the authenticity of the one to "Chris". It does indeed have the same paper, signature, and so forth we've seen before. Just as the "Hooper" letter takes off from the published letter to Hooper of 22 November 1966 (Letters, p. 371), repeating or adapting certain key words, so the "Chris" letter proceeds from Tolkien's letter to Joy Hill of 12 December 1966 (also Letters, p. 371, immediately following the one to Hooper!): "impertinent" > "impertinence", "claim property in inventing proper names" > "claim legal sway over the invention of proper names", etc.

So, was this letter supposed to have been sent to Christopher Wiseman? or to Christopher Tolkien? In either case, it would not have been signed "J.R.R. Tolkien". Are we to believe that Tolkien, on 11 December (if we read the date correctly), sent "Chris" a copy of the papers from the "young ass", and then on the 12th sent the originals to Allen & Unwin with his letter to Joy Hill? (The enclosures consisted of a sketch of the plot and three sample chapters, plus a covering letter: see Chronology, p. 682.)

Also, the reproduction of the "Chris" letter is clear enough to compare its typewriter face against that of Tolkien letters in our files only a day apart, and it's obviously a different machine in use.

As for the Unwin Books Hobbit being offered by the same seller, it seems to us that the second (non-printed) signature was written as carefully as possible to match the printed signature, and therefore not by Tolkien himself. We have on our shelves an Unwin Books Hobbit (first printing) with an unquestionably genuine Tolkien signature under the printed one, and there are differences between the two such as naturally occur from signature to signature. Our copy had been autographed for Rayner Unwin, who gave it to us as a wedding present in 1994 with a note from Rayner laid in: "The book you know: the second signature is not a printing error -- or forgery!"

Wayne and Christina