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TCG Letter #691

J.R.R. Tolkien
Mary Fairburn
10 October 1968
Autograph Letter Signed
Tolkien is distressed at Mary Fairburn's situation and offers to financially help her. Mary Fairburn had sent Tolkien some illustrations to view, which he was impressed with. But Mary wrote back explaining she needed them returned as she had found herself in financial difficulty. Tolkien was distressed to learn of this and although he was very keen to see some of her work adorn The Lord of the Rings, he said that an answer on that would not be a quick affair.

Later in the morning Tolkien continued, saying that Rayner Unwin had by chance telephoned him and that he was open to the possibility of an illustrated edition but that it was not something that would be forthcoming soon.

Tolkien then encloses £50 and asks Miss Fairburn if you could do him the favour of accepting it, "as a gift". He does not like imposing debt on people and goes so far as to suggest if she will accept, to not mention it in reply.

A truly remarkable letter demonstrating how much Tolkien cared and was concerned for an artist he admired.

In 2015 Mary Fairburn's art would finally be released, being the artist for that year's Tolkien calendar from HarperCollins.
RR Auction sale #537 - Ended October 10, 2018, lot 534 (also including May 24 letter and original art), sold for $8,759 including buyers premium
Paul Tankard, "An unknown vision of Middle-earth" The Times Literary Supplement 14 September 2012.

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