Two items which end on June 21, 2024.

Lot 6152

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


"It is largely about Bilbo’s magic ring, and Gandalf and Gollum are very important in it"—Tolkien on The Lord of the Rings, forewarning an 8-year-old reader that the Hobbits “get involved in very grim and rather frightening adventures”

Magnificent ALS, one page both sides, 5.25 x 7, personal 76 Sandfield Road (Headington, Oxford) letterhead, December 28, 1961. Beautifully penned handwritten letter to eight-year-old fan Christopher Howard, in full: “Thank you very much indeed for your letter. I was very pleased to have it, and I liked learning about the parts that specially pleased you. I don’t think Nicky missed much, as ‘The Hobbit’ was specially written for reading aloud. Though, of course, it is, I think, more fun to do the reading, and there are lots of books that can only be taken in quietly by oneself.

I am sorry that I did not get this off in time to wish you both a Merry Christmas, since yours arrived in good time for my Christmas, but there is a lot to do just before the 25th. But I wish you a very happy New Year.

I have in fact written other books in which Hobbits play a main part, and Bilbo makes an appearance — though not as a chief character as he is getting very old (60 years have gone by) and the story began on his 111th Birthday. (Which he calls eleventy-first and not hundred and eleventh!). But this book or books is very long — (about 6 times as long as The Hobbit), and is in 3 volumes (1) The Fellowship of the Ring (2) The Two Towers (3) The Return of the King. It is largely about Bilbo’s magic ring, and Gandalf and Gollum are very important in it. I am afraid it’s very expensive, but it can be got out of any good public library. Some I am told keep several copies, as it is in demand. There is not much fun in it — though at the beginning, which is in Bilbo’s village, the Hobbits behave in their usual comic way; but they soon get involved in very grim and rather frightening adventures, which make old Smaug seem almost harmless by contrast.

If it is any colder in Lancashire than it is down here, then you must be frozen stiff. It was as cold here last night as in Sweden and has been freezing hard all day. I put some water out for the birds this morning at half past ten in the bright sunshine, and it was frozen solid by lunch time.” In fine condition. Accompanied by the original mailing envelope hand-addressed by Tolkien.

The recipient, Christopher Howard, was just an 8-year-old schoolboy when the great J. R. R. Tolkien replied to his letter in the waning days of 1961. Howard’s mother, an English teacher, would read bedtime stories to him and his younger brother at their home at ‘Asmall Lodge, Asmall Lane, Ormskirk, Lancashire.’ When they were old enough, ‘aged six and eight,’ she began reading The Hobbit. The book’s creative world prompted Howard to read it on his own. ‘The magical effect of reading words that created pictures in my mind amazed me,’ recalled Howard. ‘I could see the dragon, Smaug, in his lair, the Dwarves in their mountain halls, Wizards, Orcs, and of course, Hobbits.’

Curious if the author had written other books, Howard wrote a letter. His mother forwarded it to Tolkien’s publisher, George Allen & Unwin, which was relayed to Professor Tolkien, who replied to Howard on December 28, 1961. ‘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.’’ The detailed reply, from the perspective of a Tolkien collector, was akin to finding the Arkenstone of Thrain, a great and wondrous jewel of amazing Middle-earth-related content. Penned gorgeously in his flowing, semi-florid handwriting, the letter offers an elusive double dose of Tolkien titles: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Letters from Tolkien that mention, or even allude to, either of these defining works are of exceptional desirability; that this example mentions both is, quite matter-of-factly, cause for excitement, as Tolkien letters of this ilk are rarely offered for public sale.

Estimate USD 25,000
Sold for USD 38,750 including premium ... -lord-of-the-rings/?cat=0

Lot 6153


Philosophy book from the personal library of J. R. R. Tolkien, coupled with handwritten notes on the 'square circle' concept and war-dated course instructions for Navy and Air Force cadets, referring to both Sir Orfeo and The Canterbury Tales

Rare signed book from the personal collection of J. R. R. Tolkien, which is accompanied by a two-sided sheet of handwritten notes by Tolkien, who on one side addresses the concept of a “square circle” found on page 192 of the book, and on the other side pens a “History of the English Language” study guideline for Royal cadets.

An Introduction to Philosophy by Jacques Martin (Translated by E. I. Watkin). Seventh impression. London, England: Sheed & Ward, 1942. Hardcover, 5.5 x 7.75, 272 pages. Neatly signed and dated on the first free-end page in fountain pen with his ownership signature, "J. R. R. Tolkien, 1944.” Autographic condition: fine. Book condition: VG/None, with slight sunning to spine, minor wear to spine ends, and a bookseller's notation ("Tolkien's Copy") penciled on the front pastedown.

Tolkien’s handwritten notes, unsigned, no date (circa 1943), are annotated in ink and pencil on both sides of an off-white 6 x 7 sheet of notebook paper, with the side in pencil headed “p. 192” and containing Tolkien’s thoughts on the content of said page. The notes, in part: “Square circle is not even a ‘pseudo-idea,’ it’s a mere verbalism, and due to invention of adjectives. But the ‘free adjective’ can by application is the names of things other than those from which it was originally abstracted general ideas (and images). Why not ‘square circle’? Because nouns (names) are not all of the same order. Thus we can say Blue Moon because although ‘moon’ has not usually the accident ‘blue,’ it would remain moon if it had that accident.”

The opposite side, which is penned in bold ink and headed “R.N. and R.A.F. Cadets, History of the English Language,” contains several of Tolkien’s course instructions, which read: “These copies of the Extracts (Old and Middle English) and Text are for use in Papers I and II Monday morning, 11 September; and Tuesday morning, 12 September. They should not be marked, and should be returned with the answer-paper at the end of the morning session on 12 September. The passage set for translation in The Reeve’s Tale (170-206) will be found on page 9 ‘Those sely clerks’ to page 10 ‘as is your guise!’ The passage set from Sir Orfeo is page 7 ‘O way!’ to the last line of the page (234-264).” In overall fine condition.

These ink notes undoubtedly date to Tolkien’s tenure as the first director of the Navy and Air Force cadet courses for the English School at Oxford, which was intended to broaden the mind of the British serviceman. Of further interest is the mention of “The Reeve's Tale,” the third story told in Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, and of Sir Orfeo, a version that Tolkien prepared for the naval cadets’ course at Oxford; following Tolkien’s death in 1973, his son Christopher discovered an unpolished translation of Sir Orfeo, which he published in edited form with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Pearl in 1975. Accompanied by an original “Special Examination for R.N. and R.A.F. Cadets, English, Use of English” test sheet, one page, both sides, 5.75 x 8.75, dated “[Vacation, 1944],” which contains a total of six problems that were ostensibly created and arranged by Tolkien.

Estimate USD 6,000
Sold for USD 12,500 including premium ... 826153/cat/0/SortOrder/hp