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HarperCollins 50% off sale 17-18th July 2024

9 hours ago - By Trotter


We are offering 50% off ALL BOOKS on as part of our Summer Sale pre-launch, for subscribers only! 50% off ends tomorrow at midnight.The official HarperCollins UK Summer Sale launches on Friday 19th July, offering 40% off all books on the HarperCollins UK website until Sunday 4th August. While stocks last.[1]

Simply add code SUMMER50 at checkout, and we'll automatically update your cart with your savings.

There's no time to waste! Shop now. 🛒

1 The official HarperCollins UK Summer Sale launches on Friday 19th July, offering 40% off all books on the HarperCollins UK website until Sunday 4th August. While stocks last.
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Forum Auctions

27 June - By Trotter

Fine Books, Manuscripts and Works on Paper
Thu, 18 Jul 2024 12:00 PM GMT

Lot 216

Letter link: Letter from Tolkien's Secretary to Joan Snelling • 3 December 1965 (#2268)

Tolkien (J.R.R.) Typed Letter signed from the author, 1965; together with another letter also to the recipient from Jim Allen(sic), and a rare exhibition catalogue of Tolkien's drawings from 1970s (3)

Estimate: GBP 600 - 800 ... n_no=1148&view=lot_detail

Lot 217


Tolkien (J.R.R.) The Lord of the Rings, first single volume edition, handsome morocco binding, 1968.

Estimate: GBP 600 - 800 ... n_no=1148&view=lot_detail

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US signed Hobbit and Lord of the Rings

21 June - By Trotter

Lot 330

Auction Ends Thu, 11 Jul 2024 6:00 PM GMT



4 volumes. each copy of the trilogy with folding map at rear. (8vo) original cloth, illustrated dust jackets. The trilogy is housed together in a black cloth slipcase with paper label. Various printings. Comprises:

  • The Hobbit or There and Back Again. Illustrated by the author, including map endpapers. Second American Edition,19th printing.
  • The Fellowship of the Ring. First American Edition,14th printing.
  • The Two Towers. First American Edition,11th printing.
  • The Return of the King. First American Edition,11th printing.
  • Also present is "J.R.R. Tolkien: Hobbits, Orcs, Ents, Dragons," a folding bibliographical pamphlet, presenting "a selective multi-media approach to available materials covering all sides of the controversy over the enormous popularity of J.R.R. Tolkien's works." Compiled by L.M. Maxwell. Henrico County Public Library, 1969.

The Hobbit is signed in black ink on the title page by J.R.R. Tolkien. Additionally, a typed sheet is laid in, reading, "7th June, 1967. // With Professor Tolkien's compliments." The sheet is additionally blind stamped with Tolkien's home address, "76, Sandfield Road, Headington, Oxford." Each volume of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy is signed in black ink by Tolkien at the half-title. The consigner of the volumes worked as a children's librarian, and the books were a birthday gift from coworkers. The consigner states, " I was a rather brush young man, and I decided I would send them off to England and ask if I could get them autographed by Professor Tolkien. I looked up an address for him and sent them off, hoping for the best. And the best happened. He signed them and his secretary sent them back and they’ve been with me for 60 years." A rare full set of the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings Trilogy signed by Tolkien, with an additional typed note from his desk.

Some wear and scuffing to slipcase with some foxing to interior; light wear to jackets with mild toning to edges, occasional areas of faint foxing at edges and flap folds, small tear to top edge of the front panel of the Hobbit jacket, small areas of insect damage to Two Towers jacket spine; the trilogy jackets are price-clipped (the Hobbit is not); cloth with light rubbing to edges, light bump to top corner of front board of Two Towers; some foxing to text block edges, occasional light spotting to preliminary pages and map versos; each volume of the trilogy with gift inscription to the consignor from coworkers; all volumes very good or better.

Estimate: USD15,000 - USD 25,000
Sold for USD 28,125 including premium ... search%2F%3Fkey%3Dtolkien
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Egyptian Book of the Dead and Tolkien Page Proofs in Folger's New Special Exhibitions Gallery

19 June - By Trotter

Imprints in Time.jpg

The Folger Shakespeare Library has revealed details of Imprints in Time, its inaugural show in the new special exhibitions gallery added to the Folger during its recent four-year, $80.5m renovation.

Drawn entirely from the collection of rare books and manuscripts collectors Stuart and Mimi Rose, more than 50 works will go on display when the library reopens on June 21 including:

  • an Egyptian Book of the Dead from the first century BCE
  • a first edition of Nicolaus Copernicus’ De revolutionibus (1543) which first proposed the heliocentric view of our planetary system
  • a first edition of the most notorious banned book of the 17th century, Galileo Galilei’s Dialogo which defended Copernicus’ view of the solar system and was inscribed by Galileo himself
  • a first trade edition of Winnie-the-Pooh inscribed by author A. A. Milne to his son
  • J.R.R. Tolkien’s page proofs, corrected in his hand, for The Lord of the Rings
  • an advance press copy of Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream speech
  • a section of the Apollo 11 flight plan that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin had with them on the Moon

“We wanted to recreate the feeling of being in Stuart and Mimi’s library for this exhibition,” said Greg Prickman, the Eric Weinmann Librarian and Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Folger who curated the exhibition. “To stand in Stuart and Mimi Rose’s private library is electric. An immense range of time periods and topics are all around you, and each object you encounter feels more incredible than the last. So as a part of transferring that experience to the Folger, we wanted to enable each visitor to choose their own path. Each work showcased offers visitors the opportunity to connect with people and places across many eras of human history.”

The gallery walls will be decorated with bespoke wallpaper illustrating some of the authors on view in the exhibition.

Stuart Rose served on the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Board of Governors for 10 years and a staunch advocate for adding as much space as possible in which to display the Folger’s vast collection of early modern European materials. In recognition of his support for the renovation project, the hall in which the special exhibitions gallery is located bears his name. In addition to the gallery for special exhibitions, the Rose Hall includes a gallery for smaller, focused exhibitions and a gallery where signature objects from the Folger’s collection can be viewed.

“Stuart maintains that books and manuscripts need to be seen and experienced in order to be enjoyed,” said Folger Director Michael Witmore. “He understood what showcasing the Folger’s collection would mean for public access, and through his generosity, everyone who passes through the Folger’s doors will be able to see a range of items from the Folger’s collection. And in these first months we are open, visitors will also be able to take in the magnificent items in the collection that Stuart and Mimi built.”

Imprints in Time is on view at the Folger through January 5, 2025. Following it will be Power Players, an exhibition that will show how becoming influential in Tudor England was a competitive sport. ... ecial-exhibitions-gallery
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Donald Swann Auction at Sothebys

7 June - By Trotter

Sotheby's Books, Manuscripts and Music from Medieval to Modern - London

Thu, 11 Jul 2024 1:00 PM GMT

Lot 247

Autograph manuscript calligraphic transcripts of the poems ‘Namárië’ and ‘A Elbereth Gilthoniel’, 13 pages of autograph manuscript commentary on the poems and Elvish languages, and 21 related letters to the composer Donald Swann

i) ‘Namárië’, or ‘Galadriel’s Lament’, in Quenya, written in Tengwar script in black and red ink, comprising title, subtitle, and 13 lines of text, on 1 page; with 7 pages of commentary on five leaves of paper, including a literal translation from Quenya into English (giving the text in both languages), explanatory notes on such subjects as the history of Galadriel (“… She was the last survivor of the princes and queens who had led the revolting Noldor to exile in Middle-earth. After the overthrow of Morgoth at the end of the First Age a ban was set upon her return, and she had replied proudly that she had not wish to do so…”) , the poem’s metre, pronunciation, also with a glossary (“Varda: ‘the Exalted’, greatest of the queens of the Valar…”; “Laurë is translated ‘gold’ but it was not a metallic word. It was applied to those things which we often call ‘golden’ though they do not much resemble metallic gold…”)

‘A Elbereth Gilthoniel’, in Sindarin, written in Tengwar script in black ink with the title in red, comprising title, subtitle and five lines of text, on 1 page; with 6 pages of commentary on 3 leaves of paper, with an additional two pages missing but supplied in photocopy, discussing pronunciation and the Sindarian language (this section is partly in photocopy), providing explanatory notes, and a glossary

“…As a ‘divine’ or ‘angelic’ person Varda/Elboreth could be said to be ‘looking afar from heaven’ (as in Sam’s invocation); hence the use of a present participle. She was often thought of, or depicted, as standing on a great height looking towards Middle-earth, with eyes that penetrated the shadows, and listening to the cries for aid of Elves (and Men) in peril or grief. Frodo (I 208) and Sam both invoke her in moments of extreme peril. The Elves sing hymns to her. There is said to be no religion in The L.R., but if this is not ‘religion, what is it?...”

in total 15 pages on 10 leaves of paper, 4to (254 x 201mm), with later autograph additions and marginalia in red ink, a few minor corrections in green ink, editorial changes and comments in pencil, numbered in pencil, some smudging

ii) 15 autograph letters signed and 6 typed letters signed (“Ronald Tolkien”), to Donald Swann, including extensive discussion of Swann’s settings of Tolkien’s poems and the book The Road Goes Ever On, some letters with autograph postscripts, mostly in red ink, and later annotations in pencil, 39 pages, 8vo and 4to, 76 Sandfield Road Oxford, Hotel Miramar, Bournemouth, and 19 Lakeside Road, Poole, 7 June 1965 to 18 January 1973, some ink smudging; with one telegram (sending best wishes to Flanders and Swann for the first night of their 1966 American tour), a typescript extract from a letter, and three photocopy letters (two of letters by Tolkien to Swann not included here)


For Tolkien, the languages came first. His lifelong fascination with languages found expression both in the pleasure he took in inventing his own languages from his teenage years on, and in his professional career as a philologist. The first aspect of Middle Earth to take shape in Tolkien's mind was the Elvish group of languages that he began to construct in the 1930s, giving them a history and sociolinguistics from which grew the extraordinary legendarium into which fitted The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The current group includes both rare calligraphic manuscripts that were produced by Tolkien for publication, and extensive unique notes on Elvish languages and history. Tolkien wrote this material for Donald Swann's song-cycle The Road Goes Ever On (1968), which set poems from The Lord of the Rings to music. Two of the poems chosen by Swann were in Elvish languages, and Tolkien's notes are written to give context to the poems, whilst the transcriptions of the poems themselves in Tolkien's Tengwar script were reproduced in facsimile, as was the literal translation of 'Namárië'.

‘A Elbereth Gilthoniel’ is written in Sindarin, the most widespread Elvish tongue of the Third Age. It is a hymn to Elboreth (or Varda), in Elvish mythology one of the Queens of the Valar and creator of the stars. The hymn is woven through The Lord of the Rings, appearing in several times within the book in three different forms, and usually uttered at times of crisis. It is never translated in Lord of the Rings, so this translation and accompanying notes illuminate a text that had been deliberately left opaque in Tolkien’s great novel.

‘Namárië’, subtitled ‘Galadriel’s Lament in Lórien’ is the longest text that Tolkien wrote in the Elvish language of Quenya, and is the best-known text in the language. Quenya was the language the ancient Elvish clans, including the Noldor, who travelled to Middle Earth at the end of the First Age, and the Vanyar. In the Third Age it is an archaic language used in formal contexts and for record keeping (Tolkien referred to it as “Elf-Latin”). It is the native tongue of Galadriel, who was born as one of the Noldor before their flight to Middle Earth, and she sings ‘Namárië’ when Frodo and the Fellowship of the Ring are departing Lothlórien. It concludes with her wistful hope that the Ring Bearer will reach the Undying Lands of the West, from which she was banished long ago.

These manuscripts and notes were written as part of Tolkien’s collaboration with the composer Donald Swann, which culminated in the song-cycle and book The Road Goes Ever On (1968). The accompanying letters put the manuscripts in their context. Swann was enjoying considerable success in the 1960s as one half of the comic duo Flanders and Swann. He was rereading The Lord of the Rings when touring Australia with Michael Flanders when he started to think of the musical potential of the songs that punctuate the narrative, and after the tour he spent his holiday setting to music six of these songs “on a beautiful Steinway grand piano in Ramallah outside Jerusalem” (The Road Goes Ever On, Foreword). On his return to Britain Swann made enquiries with Allen and Unwin, Tolkien’s publisher, and was soon in touch with Tolkien himself.

These letters begin after the first meeting between the two men. Tolkien had given his approval to five of Swann’s settings and writes to explain that he has been hoping “to make some notes on the ‘chant’” that he believed would make a better setting for ‘Namárië’ (7 June 1965). Two events discussed in the months that followed help cement the friendship between the two men: Tolkien was invited to a Flanders and Swann concert (“…I have not laughed so much … since I last saw an archbishop of Canterbury slip on a banana-skin…”, 19 September 1965), and the songs were performed at a party at Merton College to celebrate the Tolkiens’ Golden Wedding Anniversary, with Swann on the piano accompanying the magnificently named baritone William Elvin. The later letters show the men to have developed a trusting and comfortable friendship; they are replete with friendly comments, invitations to visit, and personal admissions. For example, Tolkien’s discomfort with his own fame is made clear when he relates to Swann his recent experience in filming the BBC documentary Tolkien in Oxford (a book signed in Elvish the course of filming was recently sold in these rooms, 12 December 2023, lot 374):

“I was lost in a world of gimmickry and nonsense, as far as it had any design designed it seemed simply to fix the image of a fuddy not to say duddy old fireside hobbitlike boozer. Protests were in vain, so I gave it up, & being tied to the stake stayed the course as best I could […] they appeared completely confused between ME and my story, and I was made to attend a firework show: a thing I have not done since I was a boy. Fireworks have no special relation to me. They appear in the books (and would have done even if I disliked them) because they are part of the representation of Gandalf, bearer of the Ring of Fire, the Kindler: the most childlike aspect shown to the Hobbits being fireworks.” (29 February 1968)

Tolkien’s letters to Swann discuss many aspects of the songs; he writes to discuss Elvin’s accent and delivery (“…Galadriel was a southerner, but I have no doubt some of the Elvish folk up at Rivendell had a western accent. We will suppose the W.E. represent Glorfindel. But let him trill his Rs. All Elves did that!...”, 21 March 1966), and on the history of ‘Errantry’, which Tolkien had written decades before it was included in The Adventure of Tom Bombadil: “With regard to Errantry:... A few years ago I had a letter from a literary lady in England, asking if I knew the source of the verses which she enclosed. She had got them from a friend, who had picked them up orally - in Washington! This of course greatly interested me: an actual case of oral transmission, a thing one is often supposed in theory to be dealing with in old literature” (14 October 1966).

Tolkien became heavily involved in the book of Swann’s settings. There are several examples in the letters of Tolkien’s strong opinions on book design. He complains repeatedly about the poor taste of his editor at Houghton Mifflin, his American publisher, especially after the paperback of Lord of the Rings was marred by the “lunatic and irrelevant nastiness of the covers”. Proofs of The Road Goes Ever On are afflicted with “tasteless squiggles or equivalent spacefillers”, and Tolkien worries that the use of Elvish calligraphy as ornamental flourish is inappropriate: “'Elvish' may be no more than a teenage lark, but it is treated seriously in this book, and ridiculous stuff scattering vowel-signs as mere ornament makes the whole thing seem silly” (13 July 1967).

As two of the songs in the cycle are written in Elvish languages constructed by Tolkien, it was suggested that Tolkien provide manuscripts of the poems in their original languages, and also explanatory notes. Tolkien was happy to agree – “this business of the Elvish Songs, and versions, and examples of Elvish script is just precisely what I like doing” (20 March 1967) – although he was later to have reservation on the way his notes were used in the book. The manuscripts and notes that Tolkien sent to Swann were used in the published version of The Road Goes Ever On. They bear marks from the printing house and the calligraphy was reproduced in facsimile, and were then retained by Swann.

LITERARY MANUSCRIPTS BY J.R.R. TOLKIEN ARE EXCEPTIONALLY RARE ON THE MARKET. This is undoubtedly the most important cache of original Tolkien material relating to Middle Earth to come to the open market in many years; the small number of other comparable manuscripts include a single autograph leaf with the corrected text of a passage in The Lord of the Rings (Christie’s, New York, 12 April 2018, lot 219, $81,250), and a genealogy of the Dúnedain with notes (Heritage, 16 July 2022, lot 42010, $150,000). The majority of the letters that are offered in the current lot remain unpublished.


Donald Swann; family descent


The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: Revised and Expanded Edition, eds H. Carpenter and C. Tolkien (2023), nos 277a, 289c, 294b, 295a, 295b, 301

Estimate GBP 150,000 - 200,000
Sold for GBP 228,000 including premium ... h-manuscript-calligraphic

The material — including Tolkien’s handwritten transcriptions of elvish poems and songs, commentary on the development of the languages, backstories of characters such as Galadriel, as well as 21 letters — was sent to Swann, who had been given permission to set the poetry to music.

It has been described by Sotheby’s auction house as “the most important cache of original Tolkien material relating to Middle-earth to come to the open market in many years”. The correspondence has been given an estimated price of £150,000 to £200,000 ahead of an online sale opening on June 27.

The letters, written in the years prior to the author’s death, shed light on his concerns that his novels, which are now recognized as the foundation texts of modern fantasy literature, were not being treated seriously enough, as well as on his late-life friendship with the comedian. ... 7b0aaa3264f70aef003ffbbbd

We have catalogued a large amount of correspondence between Swann and Tolkien in our Guide to Tolkien Letters,

These are the letters in the Donald Swann sale

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