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TCG Letter #561 / Carpenter Letter #199


From
J.R.R. Tolkien
To
Caroline Everett
Date
24 June 1957
Type
Typed Letter Signed
Transcript
Partial
Tolkien was both complementary and sorry to be the subject of Everett's thesis. He was disinclined to offer any biographical details since he doubted its relevance to criticism.

His chief biographical fact was the completion of The Lord of the Rings. He was astonished that he finished it since he was notoriously a beginner and non-finisher. Tolkien did not go to any residential "public" school; he attended a great "grammar school" so his experience had nothing in common with that of C.S. Lewis. Tolkien had not published any other short story but Leaf by Niggle, which had arisen suddenly and had been written almost in one sitting. Tolkien had read the works of E.R. Eddison and once met him. He found Eddison's works enjoyable for sheer literary merit.

The general idea of The Lord of the Rings was in mind from the 1930s. He made rough sketches or synopses that were seldom much use; the story unfolded itself as he wrote. He had kept a calendar with dates and brief statements of what all major actors or groups were doing each day.

Tolkien had been longest held up at the point of the last words of Book III. After that Chapter 1 of Book V long remained a mere opening. Chapter 2 did not exist; Chapter 3 got no further than the arrival at Harrowdale. He only had written Sam's opening words for Chapter 1 of Book IV.

The letter have been quoted from extensively, beginning as far back as 1957.Caroline Everett quotes extensively from this letter in her Master's Thesis "The Imaginative Fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien" (Florida State University, 1957). In another extract found in Mythlore 45, Tolkien discusses books by Williams, Many Dinmensions which he is unsure if he has read. Though he heard All Hallow's Eve in MS. Quotes also appear in Orcrist #4, also known as Tolkien Journal vol 4, no 3 (whole number 13), and in Clyde S. Kilby's Tolkien & The Silmarillion.[1]

The letter is found at the Wade Center and spans three pages.

1 Caroline Everett quotes extensively from this letter in her Master's Thesis "The Imaginative Fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien" (Florida State University, 1957). In another extract found in Mythlore 45, Tolkien discusses books by Williams, Many Dinmensions which he is unsure if he has read. Though he heard All Hallow's Eve in MS. Quotes also appear in Orcrist #4, also known as Tolkien Journal vol 4, no 3 (whole number 13), and in Clyde S. Kilby's Tolkien & The Silmarillion.
Tags
References
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1981), pp. 257-59, p. 447 (Carpenter note)
Florida State University digital archives, Caroline Everett's MA Thesis
Orcrist #4 (Tolkien Journal #13), p. 7
J.R.R. Tolkien A Descriptive Bibliography, Di1, p. 350; Dii6, p. 354; Dii34, p. 358
Cartas de J.R.R. Tolkien, pp. 381-4, p. 637 (notas de Carpenter)


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