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(did you mean Carpenter's Letter #28?)

TCG Letter #28 / Carpenter Letter #25

J.R.R. Tolkien
Editor of the Observer
20 February 1938*
Tolkien responds to a request, likely from a researcher or enthusiast, regarding the origins and inspirations behind his work, particularly The Hobbit. Tolkien mentions his susceptibility to flattery and expresses a willingness to discuss certain aspects of his creation, such as the origins of the hero. However, he notes the potential unfairness to research students in revealing too much, as it might rob them of the excuse for their own work.

Tolkien discusses the sources of his tale, drawing from epic, mythology, and fairy-stories, with a nod to Beowulf as one of his valued sources. He emphasizes that his tale is not consciously based on any other book except for the unpublished Silmarillion.

Tolkien had been alerted to the letter published in the Observer by G.H. White from the Oxford Examinations School. Letter from G.H. White to J.R.R. Tolkien • 18 January 1938 (#2024)[1]

*Hammond and Scull give the date of this letter as "between 18 January and 18 February 1938". The date of this entry corresponds to the publication date of the letter in the Observer.

This letter is held at the Bodleian Library among their Tolkien Papers.
Related Letters
We note our thanks to Catherine McIllwaine for archival details on this letter.
J.R.R. Tolkien A Descriptive Bibliography, Di1, p. 350, Dii3, p. 354
The Annotated Hobbit: Revised and Updated, p. 120, p. 272, p. 279, p. 378
MS. Tolkien 21, fols. 132-133
J.R.R. Tolkien: Life and Legend, p. 49 (see item 110)
The Annotated Hobbit (1988), p. 5, p. 84, p. 228, p. 234, p. 329

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