I attended the HarperCollins launch event for The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien last night. It was a great event and quite a good turnout, about 30 people.

They had copies of the book for sale (no 40% discount though) and it looked like quite a few sales took place.


The lighting in Convocation House was very dark, so a some of my pictures did not work, but here are a couple of the location. The floor above is Duke Humfrey's Library which featured in a quite a few Harry Potter films, and I would not be surprised if this area was used as well.


We had two talks

  • Chris Smith (HarperCollins) who talked about the process of getting the new version of the book released, and his pleasure at finding that Christopher Tolkien had kept the original Letters manuscripts. He also thanked all the people involved with the project, including Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull for the excellent Index in the new edition.
  • Mari Pritchard (Humphrey Carpenter's Widow) talked about how Humphrey met Tolkien, put on the Hobbit Musical and produced a small biography of Tolkien on his Oxford radio breakfast programme. That led him writing to George Allen & Unwin to ask about a biography, meeting Rayner Unwin and Christopher Tolkien and becoming friends with both. While working on the Biography he noticed a huge portfolio of Letters that Christopher Tolkien had, he had also seen these when he visited Tolkien, and he was entrusted to produce the 1981 edition of Letters.

There were also members of the Tolkien family in attendance, Mandy Doyle, Royd Tolkien and Jessica Tolkien (the first Tolkien event that Jessica had been to).

The speeches were excellent, and Mari had bought with her, Humphrey's Hobbit from 1954, which really started his interest in Middle-earth and Tolkien.