Lot 85 - J.R.R Tolken Letter Dated December 28th 1961 to Chris in reply to letter sent when 8 years old

Letter from J.R.R. Tolkien to Christopher Howard • 28 December 1961 (#2026)

1961-12-28 Dear Christopher photo.jpg

A touching letter sent by one of the greatest authors of all time to a little boy 63 years ago is expected to spark an auction bidding battle.

During Christmas in 1961 J.R.R. Tolkien, the ‘father of fantasy literature’ and author of The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings, took time out to write to a young fan.

The letter was sent to Christopher Howard when he was eight years old, above. It was a late and unexpected festive surprise for the amazed and delighted youngster, who took great pleasure showing it to his family, friends and teachers.

After a while the treasured letter was placed in his keepsakes’ box where it has remained for six decades, only coming out about 20 years ago to be digitally scanned. Christopher, 71, a renewable energy consultant from Wye, near Canterbury, Kent, has now decided the time has come to let his incredible letter go.

It will be offered at Hertfordshire Auction House Hanson Ross on April 12 with a guide price of £8,000-£10,000. However, it could exceed expectations. In 2023 a lengthy autograph Tolkien letter, sent to his publisher, achieved a premium inclusive total of $32,500 (£25,671) at auction.

Christopher said: “Back in 1961 we were living in the North West of England at the curious address you can see on the envelope, ‘Asmall Lodge, Asmall Lane, Ormskirk, Lancashire’. My mother was an English teacher who would read bedtime stories to my younger brother and I, and when we were aged six and eight she started reading The Hobbit to us.

“I quickly realised I wanted to read it myself, which I did. The magical effect of reading words that created pictures in my mind amazed me. I could see the dragon, Smaug, in his lair, the Dwarves in their mountain halls, Wizards, Orcs and of course, Hobbits.

“I needed to know if the author had written any more books full of such thrilling adventures, and therefore wrote a letter to him which mum sent to his publisher, George Allen & Unwin. They passed it on to Professor Tolkien, who replied in a letter dated December 28, 1961.

“You can imagine how thrilled I was to receive this letter. Immediately, on seeing the envelope, in my mind Professor Tolkien’s beautiful handwriting transported our home straight to Middle Earth. It became, ‘A small Lodge, A small Lane, Ormskirk, Lancashire’.

“In his reply, he took time to carefully address every point in my letter, referred to my younger brother Nicky, mentioned characters in The Hobbit, and informed me in detail about the other book – or books – he had written, The Lord Of The Rings.”

The lengthy private letter, beautifully hand-written by fountain pen on headed paper, displays Tolkien’s Oxford address – 76 Sandfield Road, Headington – and his phone number.

Amanda Butler, head of operations at Hanson Ross, said: “It’s a wonderful find, a very touching, kind and personal letter. It reminds us of the art of letter-writing in a fast-paced world now dominated by emails and short and snappy text or WhatsApp messages.

“Professor Tolkien was a busy man and yet he found time at Christmas to write this delightful letter to a young fan. It’s hard to imagine any celebrity today composing something so special. The fact that our vendor has treasured the letter for life underlines its importance. It offers us a glimpse of Tolkien’s kindness and integrity and is a welcome reminder of old-fashioned values and courtesy. We very much hope to deliver the auction result it deserves.”

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien CBE (1892-1973) was an English academic, philologist and author of high fantasy works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. From 1925-1945, he was the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon and a Fellow of Pembroke College at the University of Oxford. From 1945 to retirement in 1959 he was the Merton Professor of English Language and Literature and Fellow of Merton College, also at the University of Oxford. Tolkien was a close friend of fellow author C. S. Lewis and co-member of informal literary discussion group The Inklings

Though other authors had published works of fantasy before Tolkien, the great success of The Hobbit followed by the huge impact of The Lord Of The Rings led to a resurgence of the genre. As a result, he is regarded as the ‘father’ of modern fantasy literature and one of the most influential authors of all time.

Auction: The J.R.R. Tolkien letter will by auctioned on April 12 at Hanson Ross, Royston, Hertfordshire.

https://hansonsauctioneers.co.uk/hobbi ... -to-spark-auction-battle/

https://hansonslive.hansonsauctioneers ... log%2Fid%2F497%3Fpage%3D2

Estimate GBP 8,000 - 10,000
Sold for GBP 10,884 including premium