Tolkien Collector's Guide

Winner of the 2019 Tolkien Society award for Best Website

By Max
Just popping in

New Letter from Tolkien found between books

Feb 5, 2010

I was totally flabbergasted when I went through the estate of my aunt and found an old envelop stamped in Oxford 31st, December 1964. Enclosed was a letter from J.R.R.Tolkien to the pupils of my aunt. My aunt was a primary schoolteacher and must have had contact with Tolkien. The letter is printed on Tolkien stationary and is signed.

It says:

Dear Children,

Thank you very much indeed for writing to me to say that you have enjoyed reading my books. It is always pleasant for an author to learn that his work has given pleasure.

I was particularly interested to know that you have not only read "The Hobbit" and " The Lord of the Rings" in your own language, but that they are helping you to learn English as well. And Miss Korff tells me that you have painted water-colours of many scenes from these stories.

I hope that the books will continue to give you pleasure, and I wish you all much success in your studies.

Yours sincerely


Does any body of you know what such a letter is worth and how to connect to a collector?

587_4b6c2326245f0.jpg 1240X1755 px

587_4b6c2606120d2.jpg 1240X1755 px
Load previous replies
Feb 5, 2010

André wrote:
that you have not only read "The Hobbit" and " The Lord of the Rings" in your own language

I'm not sure if I understand this correctly. Does "in your own language" mean that the children have read German translations (the letter is addressed to a school in Germany) of The Hobbit and LotR? The first German translation of LotR was published in 1969/70 but this letter dates back to 1964. That's five years before the German translation was published.
But maybe I don't get the point

First of all thanks a lot for the quick replies!

Well that is interesting. He possibly meant only the Hobbit (first published in Germany 1957) - Hm...
Or my aunt did her own translation ? Or he misunderstood?
Unfortunately I do not know the original letter from her. Maybe some collector has her letter, that would certainly help.
Well the date is clear on the letter and the envelop.
Feb 5, 2010
I have to agree with Max's comments here.

The teacher could have translated the text herself as she read to the children or just translated words that the children did not understand in English.
Feb 5, 2010
Since I am totally new in this area, could anyone tell me how often you find a new letter from Tolkien in this forum?
Feb 6, 2010

Max wrote
Since I am totally new in this area, could anyone tell me how often you find a new letter from Tolkien in this forum?

At the moment we tend to see more fake letters than real ones, but Tolkien was a prolific letter writer so they must be a lot of letters from him ready to be found like you did.
Feb 6, 2010
I'd agree with Trotter and others - very nice to see what to all appearances is a real letter! Letters such as this show up for sale every few months or so, but most of those are well known (up for sale more than once as they change hands multiple times).

There is not much scholarly value to your particular letter, but it is very charming!
Feb 6, 2010
This is a typical secretary letter of which I have seen over 200 by now... typed by Tolkien's secretary and also signed by this person. Clear match in autograph as well.
Feb 7, 2010
I have seen some fan post which was not quit as personal and charming as this one.
Feb 7, 2010
The letter seems genuine to us too, typed by a secretary but signed (quickly, in ballpoint) by Tolkien. For what it's worth, we've never seen a secretary-typed letter from Tolkien that he didn't sign personally, except for those clearly marked "p.p." (per procuriationem, by delegation to) with the secretary's name or initials. None of Tolkien's secretaries, as far as we know, ever tried to imitate his signature -- we doubt that he would have approved of the deception. Nor is it likely that Tolkien, who always took special care when writing to children, would not have signed this particular letter himself.

Wayne & Christina
Feb 7, 2010
When did Tolkien first get a secretary to answer his mail, I always thought it was 1965 which is the year after this letter?
Feb 7, 2010
The letter is from New Year's Eve 1964.
If he did now have a secretary at this time he would have written the letter himself. What is your feeling regarding style and content.
Did he write it himself? Does it tell anything about him?
Load more
Jump to Last