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Re: Another Tolkien eBay Letter

Subject: Re: Another Tolkien eBay Letter
by Findegil on 2009/12/11 20:18:18

Here is Christina's breakdown of the relevant chronology:

1 August 1962: Tolkien writes to Pauline Baynes (Mrs Gasch) about changes he has made to the poems for the Adventures of Tom Bombadil book. On the same date, Allen & Unwin write to Pauline that they are delighted with her drawings done to date, and that Rayner Unwin will show them to Tolkien in Oxford the next day.

2 August: Rayner's visit takes place.

3 August: Tolkien writes to Pauline expressing his own pleasure at the drawings. Also on 3 August, Rayner writes to Tolkien with details about Pauline's schedule for completing the illustrations, and asks Tolkien to lunch with him and his father in London, suggesting that this be on either 22 August or 5 September.

7 August: Allen & Unwin write to Pauline about a mock-up for the book.

9 August: Tolkien writes to Rayner, agreeing on a visit to London on 22 August. He has written to Pauline, and today receives a reply from her that she is proceeding enthusiastically with her work.

10 August: Allen & Unwin thank Pauline for sending more illustrations.

22 August: Tolkien visits Allen & Unwin in London, and sees Pauline's full-page illustrations for the book.

27 August: Rayner sends Tolkien the full-page illustrations.

29 August: Tolkien writes to Rayner, commenting on the illustrations.

22 November: The Bombadil book is published.

23 December: Tolkien writes to Pauline, commenting on the reception of the Bombadil book.

From this and other correspondence in our records, from the Tolkien, Baynes, and Allen & Unwin archives, it's clear that:

Allen & Unwin, not Tolkien, handled the business end of the Bombadil book. The publisher originated the commission, indicated which illustrations were needed, agreed on remuneration, and showed the finished art to the author. Rayner Unwin would not have engaged Tolkien to write to Pauline on Allen & Unwin's behalf.

There were no arrangements to be 'finalised' between artist, publisher, and author. Everything was working to schedule, and the illustrations were proving entirely satisfactory.

Since Rayner Unwin on 3 August suggested 22 August for meeting Tolkien in London, and the latter agreed to this on 9 August, Tolkien hardly would have tried on 5 August to arrange, on Rayner's behalf, a three-way meeting in Oxford on 25 August.

Apart from the purported letter on eBay, no other document refers to a suggested or scheduled meeting on 25 August.

Good for Trotter in pointing out the watermark problem. To this we would add that the embossed stamp on the eBay lot is entirely different in lettering and arrangement from one on an undoubtedly genuine Tolkien letter of 16 August 1962 -- unless one wishes to suggest that Tolkien had two separate Sandfield Road address stamps and that were in more or less simultaneous use.

It's amazing that these similar letters, among which the somewhat generic but equally questionable one to 'Mrs Wilding' must be counted, have been coming on the market now for more than a year. Beren once said in this forum that he was going to dig into the matter further: has he come up with anything?

Christina and Wayne
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