Tolkien Collector's Guide
Sign In
Tolkien Collector's Guide
Important links:

Guide to Tolkien's Letters
Winner of the 2019 Tolkien Society award for Best Website


Possible unpublished Tolkien letter

3 Jul, 2014 (edited)
2014-7-3 6:25:05 PM UTC

If anyone gets a copy, can you let us know what the article is about?

"JRR Tolkien’s honest, encouraging and practical advice...and the writer who learnt from it"

10_53b5a51ccd03d.jpg 276X423 px
4 Jul, 2014 (edited)
2014-7-4 11:18:29 AM UTC
I am answering my own question as I bought a copy of the magazine, Writing Magazine August 2014, today.

The article is about a series of letters between Tolkien and Paula Coston née Iley on writing. Paula had links with Tolkien because her grand-parents lived next door to him, and she met him and Edith as a child.

I cannot find the reproduced letter, dated 6th January 1969, as being published and I do not recall seeing some of Tolkien's comments before, but the 26 August 1965 letter, also partially reproduced below, is mentioned in the Chronology by Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond.

The article contains advice from Tolkien on "the gap between one's vision (what one "sees" or "feels") and what words will do.", his childhood and the green dragon anecdote, his views on verse and rhyming and finally on the validity of word coinings.

UPDATE from the Magazine's editor

"Paula did tell me she’s always jealously guarded the letters (and mentioned in the article not letting the biographers see them) so I believe this is the first time the contents will have been published anywhere, at least some of them."

Highly recommended.
4 Jul, 2014 (edited)
2014-7-4 2:00:18 PM UTC
Thanks for letting us know, Trotter! I'll try to order a copy.
4 Jul, 2014
2014-7-4 2:49:51 PM UTC
Please forgive me if this isn't the done thing here. The mag can be purchased direct from us here: ... ters_Joint_-_August_2014/ and we do dispatch internationally.

Thank you for highlighting us like this Trotter.

I really enjoyed this article myself. Wish we could have had a lot more!
4 Jul, 2014 (edited)
2014-7-4 2:52:51 PM UTC

Writing Mag editor wrote:
Please forgive me if this isn't the done thing here.

You are very welcome, "Wish we could have had a lot more!" please find some more?
4 Jul, 2014
2014-7-4 4:07:29 PM UTC
Thanks Trotter for the heads up. I'll be ordering a copy. Awesome find!
4 Jul, 2014
2014-7-4 4:34:23 PM UTC
The letter of 6 January 1969 was evidently the third of the three letters from Tolkien to Paula Iley sold at Christie's London on 23 November 1998 ( ... .aspx?intobjectid=1369237). The auction listing identified only two of them, but quoted part of the text of the 1969 letter page we can now read, and had a different illustration of overlapping letters.

We'll try to order a copy of the magazine too, though we see that the online order form isn't set up to handle U.S. postal address formats straightforwardly.

Wayne & Christina
6 Jul, 2014
2014-7-6 12:59:12 PM UTC
Thanks for the heads-up. Getting a copy, too!
6 Jul, 2014
2014-7-6 1:19:22 PM UTC
Me too!

- wellinghall
6 Jul, 2014
2014-7-6 3:27:19 PM UTC
Interesting; thanks for posting Trotter.

I'm always curious as to what permissions are sought or given for publishing such things. I think it's been mentioned here before, in regard to the publishing of extracts only & also for auction houses to show letter(s) content simply by the fact that they've photographed them; the content of Tolkien's letters, regardless of who owns them, resides, from a copyright perspective, with the Tolkien Estate; does it not? Would permission have been sought here? Or is the content too redacted &/or insignificant? Just curious...

Jump to Last
All original content ©2024 by the submitting authors. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Policy | Contact Us