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Re: New Letter from Tolkien found between books
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Since there could be a consensus but not a resolution among the writers in this thread, we asked Christopher and Baillie Tolkien about the letter to the Fourth Class and the larger question about secretaries signing Tolkien's name in his style. Christopher knows his father's writing very well, as no one would dispute, and his wife Baillie had direct experience as one of JRRT's secretaries. Christopher replied this morning that the letter of 31 December 1964 is genuinely by his father, 'entirely characteristic, and signed by him: the signature is unquestionable and in no way out of the ordinary'. Further, Christopher rejected completely the idea that his father would have directed a secretary to imitate his signature, or that a secretary would have done so without direction: this would have been 'contrary to his sense of propriety'.

Wayne & Christina

Posted on: 2010/2/12 19:30


Re: New Letter from Tolkien found between books
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I think that certainly settles the matter.

However, I have one point I'd like to add. I was reading through the transcriptions of the uncollected and unpublished letters I have of Tolkien and I found this part of a letter to Baronne A. Baeyens dated 16 December 1963 particularly relevant to this thread:

"I enclose a merely secretarial letter. I am obliged to leave a large part of the letters to a part-time secretary; but I always re-read them before sending any reply, and I felt that your charming and interesting letter deserved a personal note, though it must be briefer than it should be."

He continues for 4 handwritten pages, so much for brevity. :)

Also, Tolkien once sent a secretarial letter unsigned to a Mr. E. Rasdall. In a letter dated 28 August 1964, he apologized for this mix-up.

I think overall Tolkien was extremely gracious with his time in writing letters to fans and admirers (most of them complete strangers); however, he was only human. I don't think its dishonest at all that a secretary assisted him in this overwhelming task. After all, even C. S. Lewis relied heavily on his brother Warren's assistance in his correspondence.

Well, those are my thoughts.

Posted on: 2010/2/12 20:34


Re: New Letter from Tolkien found between books
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I enclose a merely secretarial letter. I am obliged to leave a large part of the letters to a part-time secretary; but I always re-read them before sending any reply

Meaning, we suppose, that he dictated some of his letters to a secretary (which he is known to have done), she typed them, and before posting he read them, as well as re-read the letters to which he was replying. This gave him the opportunity to add handwritten notes below the typewritten part.

Wayne & Christina

Posted on: 2010/2/12 20:47


Re: New Letter from Tolkien found between books
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Thanks so much for posting Christopher and Baille's thoughts Wayne & Christina!

Also, to Jlong for sharing some additional documented thoughts from JRRT himself from other letters.

Max, enjoy your Fourth Class letter!

Posted on: 2010/2/12 23:35
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Re: New Letter from Tolkien found between books
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Thank you W&C! We can't really ask for any more than Christopher & Baillie's opinion posted here on the site. It is really very much appreciated.

Beren, we thinks that theory is out the window...

BH

Posted on: 2010/2/15 8:37
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You drive a hard bargain – you can have it for £10 all-in – one consolation (for you) is that you do not have to hear the cries of my children, for bread...



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