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Tolkien's letter to Shippey, April 1970 [Uncertain date?]
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A detail (which nonetheless appears as a small enigma to me), is why Tolkien's letter from April 1970 to Tom Shippey is given an uncertain date ("?12 (received 13)") in the J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: Chronology, p. 749.

Shippey writes (in his Preface to the Second Edition, The Road to Middle-earth): "... the letter Professor Tolkien wrote to me on 13 April 1970". It seems like I'm missing some other reference to this letter - anyone knows where I can find it? Is the letter undated, or is it perhaps Shippey's ambiguous wording which has led to the uncertain dating in the Chronology?

Posted on: 2011/12/30 17:31

Edited by Khamûl on 2013/4/24 13:25:32


Re: Tolkien's letter to Shippey, April 1970
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Shippey also refers to the letter by date in 'Long Evolution: The History of Middle-earth and Its Merits', published in Arda, vol. 7 (1992 for 1987), p. 29. There he says: 'On April 13th 1970 I got a letter from Professor Tolkien.' This suggests that 13 April was the date of receipt, in contrast to 'the letter Professor Tolkien wrote to me on 13 April 1970' which implies a date of writing. Although it's possible that Tolkien wrote and posted the letter, and Tom received it, that same day, it's our sense that Royal Mail in 1970 probably would have taken more than a day to transport a letter from Poole to Birmingham. Hence, from all of this, our queried date ?12 April in Chronology.

Wayne & Christina

Posted on: 2011/12/30 21:12


Re: Tolkien's letter to Shippey, April 1970
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As ever - many thanks, Findegil!

Following another clue, I was actually about to order Roots and Branches, since a quote from that collection (provided by geordie on another website) indicates that Shippey makes a reference to the letter there as well. (Not saying that Roots and Branches isn't still on my wishlist!)

As for Arda 1987 (vol. VII): it's not so easy to obtain, and perhaps I should recommend anyone interested to contact Beregond, Anders Stenström to order a copy (I myself bought this and other volumes of the annual Arda from him about two years ago - you won't hardly ever find them on eBay!). Just PM me if you want help to contact Beregond.

Posted on: 2011/12/31 2:29


Re: Tolkien's letter to Shippey, April 1970
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Roots and Branches is well worth having. Shippey refers to the letter in his paper 'Tolkien and the West Midlands: The Roots of Romance'. There he doesn't give a date for it, other than to say that Tolkien wrote to him after Shippey had addressed a Tolkien conference in Birmingham 'in 1970' - except that the event occurred on 30 November 1969. The paper as it appears in Roots and Branches, however, gives the letter only a passing reference, as merely 'an encouraging letter' (p. 41), compared with the paper as it originally appeared (before being extensively revised for Roots and Branches) in Lembas Extra for 1995. The latter includes not only the words quoted from the letter in the second edition of The Road to Middle-earth, but also further text before and after. (The paper was originally an address at King Edward's School in 1992.)

Posted on: 2011/12/31 6:55






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