Tolkien (misc.)Posted by Morgan Thomsen Thu, December 11, 2014 04:14:30
Tolkien edited a vast amount of his father’s manuscripts for publication in The History of Middle-earth series, he omitted
certain texts due to constraints of space and editorial discretion. Generally
speaking, these texts are either theological/philosophical or linguistic in nature,
and were thus perceived to be of little or no interest to the general reader
(see, for example, The War of the Jewels,
XI:359). Much of this omitted material, however, have since appeared in specialised
publications (most notably in issues of Vinyar
Tengwar and Parma Eldalamberon),
and the most recently published material appears in the French volume La Feullie de la Compagnie N° 3,* released
on 3 December 2014. This material consists of three sets of formerly
unpublished or partially published manuscripts by Tolkien, presented here under
the collective title Fragments on Elvish
Reincarnation. The manuscripts, appearing both in English and a French
translation, have been edited by Michaël Devaux, with the assistance of
Christopher Tolkien and Carl F. Hostetter.
My intention here is not to offer an analysis of the meaning
or importance of these texts; it is rather to present a brief description of Tolkien’s
writings, and its associated editorial matter, in La Feullie de la Compagnie 3. Information in English about this new material is still sparse, and hopefully
this summary could be of use when pondering whether or not to acquire a copy of the book.
Deveaux has composed
an ambitious introduction, covering some 70 pages, to the Fragments on Elvish Reincarnation. The introduction consists of: (1)
a general introduction to the material; (2) a detailed description of the
manuscripts; (3) an analysis of the literary styles found in these writings and
an “in-universe” analysis of the ideas found in the manuscripts; (4) a section
containing both a glossary of Elvish terms appearing in the manuscripts, supplied
by Carl Hostetter, and some notes specific to the French translation of certain
terms; (5) a discussion of the ideas found in the manuscripts, with references
to (real-world) philosophy, theology, geography, and general natural science.
In my opinion it is
quite a drawback that the editor has chosen not to include an English translation
of this introductory material (even Hostetter’s contribution, originally in
English, appears only in French). Firstly, acquiring a copy of La Feullie de la Compagnie 3 is, as of
now (and perhaps indefinitely?), the only way to access this new and quite
substantial primary material by Tolkien, and non-French readers are much at a
loss by not being able to consult the introduction. Secondly, with English
being the lingua franca of Tolkien
studies, it complicates the possibility of critical scholarship on these texts.
And thirdly, relying on my somewhat rusty French, it is evident that Deveaux is
a scrupulous Tolkien scholar and keen commentator, whose thoughts on the matter
deserve to reach a wider audience.
After the editorial
introduction follow transcriptions of Tolkien’s manuscripts in a bilingual
edition (presented side-by-side on opposite pages).†
I. The Converse of Manwë with Eru (ca.
In his Appendix to Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth (published
in Morgoth’s Ring, volume X in The History of Middle-earth),
Christopher Tolkien noted the existence of “a text entitled The Converse of Manwë and Eru”,
consisting of three manuscripts: “This work was planned as two-fold … and a
second, more ample version of the ‘Converse’, was given up” (X:361). In Morgoth’s Ring, only the “original
shorter recension” (ibid.) of the
Converse appeared, reprinted here as manuscript A, The Converse of Manwë and Eru, together with two amendments (ca. 2
pages)‡. Manuscript B, The Converse of Manwë
with Eru concerning the death of the Elves and how it might be redressed; with
the comments of the Eldar added (ca. 14 pages), is the second
part of the two-fold work, described by Christopher as “an elaborate philosophical
discussion” (ibid.). And finally,
manuscript C, Beginning of a revised & expanded version of ‘The Converse’ (ca.
4 pages), is the abandoned, “more ample” version of manuscript A.
II. Re-incarnation of Elves. The Númenórean
Catastrophe & End of ‘Physical’ Arda (ca. 1959 – spring 1966)
The second set of texts,
also noted in the Appendix to Athrabeth,
is described by Christopher as a “hastily written manuscript on small slips of
paper, entitled ‘Reincarnation of Elves’ (X:363). The first section, Re-incarnation of Elves, amounts to ca.
6 pages, and The Númenórean Catastrophe
& End of ‘Physical’ Arda covers ca. 2 pages.
III. Some notes on ‘rebirth’, reincarnation by
restoration among Elves. With a note on the Dwarves. (1972)
Among the “brief or
fragmentary writings closely associated with [the Glorfindel manuscripts]” (The
Peoples of Middle-arth, volume XII: 377), Christopher notes “a discussion
of the question of Elvish reincarnation” (XII:382), existing in two versions. In
The Peoples of Middle-earth, only the
first version of the writing, and parts of second version of the final note
on Dwarves, is given, while here appears the second version in its entirety (ca.
* It should be noted that the volume is an anthology (it has 502 pages in total), also containing articles in French about Tolkien and his works, some illustrations, and a bibliography of French Tolkien-related publications.
† A facsimile version of two manuscripts pages is reproduced at the very end of the section on Fragments on Elvish Reincarnation
‡ Here, and below, the page numbers refer to the extent of only the English material, as it appears in La Feullie de la Compagnie
3 (it has a somewhat larger typesetting than employed in The History of Middle-earth
). The page numbers are included to give readers an idea of the length of the primary material.
Tolkien (misc.)Posted by Morgan Thomsen Tue, October 15, 2013 16:30:02
Nearly a month ago, Pieter Collier wrote a review at the Tolkien Library
about the forthcoming The Riddles of The Hobbit
by Professor Adam Roberts
(Palgrave Macmillan; to be published in November 2013). Thanks to the publishers I also got a chance to read the book before its publication, and will here try to note a couple of points not already brought up by Mr Collier, that I hope could be of interest to potential readers.
To my knowledge, The Riddles of The Hobbit
will be the first book-length, academic study about the theme of riddles in Tolkien's works. The latter is important to point out: contrary to what one could be led to believe from its title, the book is not only and simply about the riddles in The Hobbit
– Roberts start out (Chapter 1) by tracing the use of riddles in Anglo-Saxon culture and literature, and he devotes a whole chapter (2) to riddles contained in the Exeter Book
. This historic contextualisation (which certainly is relevant when it comes to Tolkien) gives Roberts a valuable perspective when analysing (Chapter 3) the riddle-game found in the chapter “Riddles in the Dark” in The Hobbit
. In Chapter 4, Roberts tentatively suggests an apparent “meta-riddle” (a sort of synthesis of all the riddles exchanged between Bilbo and Gollum), which he constructs out of a reading of a certain Celtic riddle, the Exeter Book
, and the Elder Edda
. A quite fascinating suggestion, which no doubt will be discussed further among Tolkien scholars and fans!
After a transitional chapter (5) presenting the different versions of The Hobbit
, Roberts discusses (Chapter 6) the manual
quality of the Old English poem Beowulf
in order to investigate Bilbo's question “What have I got in my pocket?”. This discussion goes on (chapter 7) to an analysis of the enigma of the One Ring: here I believe Roberts makes an interesting (and apparently formerly unnoticed) connection between the Ring and a particular riddle found in the Exeter Book
The remaining chapters are more diverse, and touch on subjects such as riddles of writing and characterisation in the works of Tolkien, and the “Enigma of Genre Fantasy”.
Initially, since this is Roberts’s first contribution to Tolkien studies, I was worried that the author would have failed to take account of what are often considered to be the preeminent analyses of the Tolkien's riddles, namely the discussions found in Douglas A. Anderson’s The Annotated Hobbit
, John D. Rateliff’s The History of The Hobbit
, and the works of Tom Shippey. However, this turned out to be a false worry: Roberts not only includes references to all of these, but also expands upon and, at times, questions certain aspects of their work – all of which makes for a rewarding read.
[added 5 December 2013]:
Over at Jason Fisher’s blog Lingwë
I just discovered a long discussion
(see the comments field) about how the topic of the riddles in The Hobbit
is noteworthily brought up in several works (that I failed to take account of above). Such include The Tolkien Encyclopedia
(entry for “Riddles”) , Marjorie Burns’s Perlious Realms
, and Corey Olsen’s Exploring J
. Tolkien’s The Hobbit
Tolkien (misc.)Posted by Morgan Thomsen Sun, July 21, 2013 23:41:41
Recently I managed to acquire a copy of a poster-map I’ve been eager to take a closer look at: Pauline Baynes’ There and Back Again: Bilbo
’s Journey through Eriador and Rhovanion
(1971). Long-time collectors and scholars will of course be familiar with this poster, but as a younger (well, mid-30s) enthusiast, it wasn’t readily available and I had my own reason to study the map.
Before finding a copy of the map, I namely posed a question at a well-known online Tolkien forum, asking if anyone knew if Baynes consulted with Tolkien for the creation of There and Back Again.
My question derived from the knowledge that Baynes’ earlier poster, Map of Middle-earth
(1970), was produced in collaboration with Tolkien, “who sent her a marked photocopy of the general map, as well as additional names to include and advice on a few points of topography and nomenclature”. Could it therefore be that also the 1971 poster-map has some unique features that would be able to enrich our understanding of Middle-earth?
However, no one had a reply (or perhaps no one found the question interesting!) at the forum, and since none of my Tolkien-related reference works had anything to say on the subject, I decided to directly ask the foremost experts, Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. They kindly replied (quoted with their permission):
“Tolkien seems not to have given Baynes any additions for the Hobbit
map, or instructions except to concentrate on landscape rather than figures. He asked to approve the art before it went to press, and did so when Pauline and her husband visited Tolkien in Poole.”
While being grateful for an authoritative and informative answer to my question, it was of course also somewhat disappointing that the small “research project” undertaken for this blog post mainly yielded negative knowledge: it would likely be fruitless to look for additional pieces of information concerning the legendarium
using the 1971 poster-map as a basis. Nevertheless, though, the illuminated map is a beautiful piece of art, created by “Tolkien’s illustrator of choice for his own works” – reasons enough for me to take delight in it!Final Note 1:
I find it interesting that Tolkien recommended Baynes to “concentrate on landscape rather than figures”. The statement sheds additional light on one of my older posts here (‘Tolkien and the Illustrations of Robert J. Lee
’), where I argued (though likely not being the first to point out this aspect of Tolkien’s artistic preferences) that Tolkien’s own illustrations contains “very few actual portraits, and when people occasionally appear in a landscape, they are often very small and in the background” – perhaps one of the reasons why Tolkien disliked Lee’s pictures.Final Note 2:
At least two erros, concerning the spelling of place names, appear to occur on the 1971 map:
[for] River Gladuin
[read] River Glanduin
[for] Dimril Dale
[read] Dimrill DaleFootnotes & References
 ‘In Memoriam: Pauline Diana Baynes’, in Tolkien Studies
: Volume 6, p.vii.
 Hammond, Wayne G. & Scull, Christina, The Lord of the Rings: A Reader
(HarperCollins 2008), p. lxiv.
 Hammond and Scull are currently working on a biography about Pauline Baynes – a work in progress which they occasionally write about at their weblog: Too Many Books and Never Enough
 Private correspondence (8 June 2013).
 Scull, Christina & Hammond, Wayne G., The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: Reader
(HarperCollins 2006), p. 76.
Tolkien (misc.)Posted by Morgan Thomsen Mon, April 22, 2013 23:42:46
Acknowledgements: I’m grateful to David Bratman and Daniel Helen for reading the draft and providing me with comments and corrections. Update (28 May 2013): I would like to thank Beregond, Anders Stenström for pointing out an error and for giving a linguistic insight (the text has been amended accordingly).
2013, the Spanish Tolkien scholar José Manuel Ferrández Bru published La Conexión Española de J.R.R. Tolkien: El
“Tío Curro” (Astorga, León: Editorial CSED). Ferrández Bru’s book, which is
both the first biography about Father Francis Xavier Morgan Osborne (henceforth
Father Francis) and the first book-length study of connections between Father
Francis, Spain, and J.R.R. Tolkien, could be placed in at least two categories
of texts dealing with Tolkien.
joins a handful of books, having appeared in the last decade, which focus on a
particular aspect of Tolkien’s life – I’m thinking of such works as John
Garth’s Tolkien and the Great War
(2003), Andrew H. Morton’s Tolkien’s
Gedling (2008) and Tolkien’s Bag End
(2009), and Phil Mathison’s Tolkien in
East Yorkshire 1917–1918 (2012).
it is one of quite few original publications in languages other than English
that include formerly unknown biographical information (albeit being bits and
pieces) about Tolkien. Of such, there are for example Arne Zettersten’s Tolkien - min vän Ronald och hans världar
(2007; eventually appearing in an English edition in 2011), an interview in
Polish with Tolkien’s friend Przemyslaw Mroczkowski (Tygodnik Powszechny, No. 14, 1994), and an interview with Tolkien’s
former au-pair Arndís Þorbjarnardóttir, published in the Icelandic newspaper Morgunblaðið (28 February 1999).
interest in reading Ferrández Bru’s biography lies in gaining a deeper
understanding of the connection between Father Francis and Tolkien and his
family (and the chosen title of his book reveals that Ferrández Bru is aware
that this will be the case for a majority his readers). I will therefore
proceed below by mainly noting such details which appear to be hitherto unknown
concerning this relationship.
2. Anecdotes and reminiscences
Bru has to date published two articles in English about his particular field of
research in Tolkien scholarship: ‘J.R.R. Tolkien and the Spanish Civil War’ in Mallorn 51 (2011), and ‘“Wingless
fluttering”: Some Personal Connections in Tolkien’s Formative Years’ in Tolkien Studies, vol. VIII (2011). To
these should also be added the articles about Father Francis that Ferrández Bru
has published in English on his website.
In Tolkien Studies, Ferrández Bru noted
that he “obtained invaluable data in interviews and letters exchanged with
Priscilla Tolkien” (p. 59). While Priscilla Tolkien’s contribution remained
implicit in that particular text, the Mallorn
article provided two brief quotations by Priscilla, both concerned with
reminiscences of Tolkien’s views on the Spanish Civil War. These two quotations
also appear in La Conexión Española de
J.R.R. Tolkien (pp. 231-2), and the book includes several additional
quotations and references to his correspondence with Priscilla: such are
reminiscences by Priscilla about her father’s great interest in the Spanish
language owing to his close connection to Father Francis (p. 159), a brief description
of Father Francis and his relationship to her (pp. 193-4), and how the death of
Father Francis affected her father (p. 198). Moreover, La Conexión Española de J.R.R. Tolkien contains the following
anecdotes recorded by Priscilla Tolkien:
A ceremonial ”good afternoon”: In the early 1920s in Leeds,
J.R.R. Tolkien stepped out of a tram in the company of Father Francis. The latter had a powerful presence and made a deep
impression on a girl standing next to the tram, who kept staring at the Father intensely. Taking notice
of the girl, Francis Morgan “removed his large-brimmed hat and turning towards
the girl said ‘good afternoon’ with great ceremony” (p. 194). The surprised girl became terrified and started to run away from Father Francis.
Afterwards, J.R.R. Tolkien was fond of telling this amusing story to his
Tears for wheat flakes (p. 198): In the early 1930s at
Tolkien’s home at 20 Northmoor Road in Oxford, the elderly Father Francis (who
died on 11 June 1935, 78 years old), was sitting by the table while Edith
Tolkien kept asking what kind of cereals he might be wanting for breakfast. At
last he chose a brand called Force, but noticed that the young Priscilla had
started crying – it was her favourite cereals and she regarded them as
belonging to her. Father Francis, who guessed why she was crying, handed her
the package of cereals and apologized, thereby winning her confidence and
stopping her tears.
The smelly Camembert (pp. 195, 197): Travelling on a
train, Edith Tolkien and Father Francis were bringing a gift to Ronald, a
Camembert cheese (of which he was especially fond). Having reached its
maturity, the cheese omitted such a strong smell that fellow travellers started
leaving the wagon, which eventually became empty except for Edith and Father
Francis. According to Priscilla, this memory has been kept throughout the years
within the Tolkien family. While I have found no other reference to this
incident, it bears likeness to the anecdote about the greasy Banbury cake:
“Father Francis sometimes came to visit from Birmingham, once chaperoning
Edith. She remembered the train stopping at Banbury and Father Francis
insisting on buying Banbury cakes – the local delicacy – which were very
greasy. The grease got everywhere and caused considerable confusion.” (The Tolkien Family Album, p. 35).
The “flip-flap” clock: The heritage of Father Francis’s
brother Augusto Morgan contained a certain clock being a family heirloom. After
struggling with administrative hindrances, Father Francis brought the clock to
England from Spain, and upon his own death, he bequeathed it to Tolkien, who
“kept it in his study throughout his whole life and who more than once managed
to get it repaired even though its machinery was antique” (p. 208). In a footnote, Ferrández Bru comments that the Tolkien family called the clock by the
name “the flip-flap”, and that it passed on to John Tolkien, Ronald’s eldest son. The clock appears
to have been lost after John’s death.
3. Possible influences
3.1 Father Francis
The Saviour in the Gnomish Lexicon: Ferrández Bru points to an entry appearing in Tolkien’s Gnomish Lexicon (dating from 1917 and
published in its entirety in Parma Eldalamberon,
vol. 11): “Faidron or Faithron = Francis”. By observing the
usage in the Gnomish Lexicon of
proper names being denoted by capital letters and the equality sign denoting
names in other languages, in addition to the occurrence of names of other
figures in the life of Tolkien in the corresponding Qenya Lexicon (Parma
Eldalamberon, vol. 12), Ferrández Bru concludes that “Francis” here very likely
refers to Father Francis (in his Foreword, Ferrández Bru thanks John Garth for suggesting
this lead). He then looks at the Elvish cognates, finding English glosses such
as freedom, set free, liberation, liberty, liberator, and Saviour. Ferrández
Bru admits that it is impossible to tell if Tolkien actually intended these
concepts to be characteristic of Father Francis, but suggests that it’s “very
revealing that [Tolkien], in his private world and creation, composes the name
of his tutor through terms connected with freedom and liberation” (p. 182).
In the guise of Thingol (pp. 242-3): It is well-known that Tolkien’s
relationship to Edith served as an inspiration for the story of Beren and
Lúthien. Ferrández Bru suggests that the character of Thingol, who opposed the
love of Beren and Lúthien, might be owing something to Francis Morgan, who
likewise opposed the love between Ronald and Edith.
The ceremonial Troll (pp. 194-5): In connection with the
anecdote of Father Francis’s ceremonial “good-bye” mentioned above, Ferrández
Bru suggests that this event might have influenced Tolkien when composing the
poem ‘Perry-the-Winkle’. In the poem, the Lonely Troll tries to find a friend
and encounters Mrs Bunce, a hobbit. The well-meaning troll greets her with a
smile and a “Good-morning, ma’m! Good day to you!”, but the hobbit “yelled a
frightful yell” and “ran home like mad”.
3.2 Spanish influence
Tolkien had access to Father Francis’s library containing many Spanish books
(the library is unfortunately no longer existent), possibly including works written by his relatives (see below), and that he
surely used to recount anecdotes about Spain for Tolkien. Ferrández Bru says
that one can therefore find “an interesting line of speculation about an
unknown influence in Tolkien’s works” (p. 159), and suggests a number of such possible influences.
Romanticism (pp. 211ff): Among Father Francis’s older relatives were found quite a few prominent
authors, such as Juan Nicolás Böhl de Faber, Frasquita Larrea, and Cecilia Böhl
de Faber. Ferrández Bru analyses romantic and traditional themes (“progress
contra nature”) in the writings of these authors, and notes a similarity in the
writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, perhaps suggesting that Tolkien was aware of their
works or possibly having been influenced by their ideas through Francis Morgan.
Landscape and places in Spain: While admitting the inherent danger
of guesswork concerning relationships between locations appearing in the legendarium and the real world (p. 241), Ferrández Bru proposes that the transportation of wine barrels on the river between
Lake-town and the Elf-king’s cave in The
Hobbit is reminiscent of the transportation of goods on the river Guadalete
from Jerez and El Puerto de Santa María (from where hailed the family of Father
Francis). He further notes that Gondor and Minas Tirith might owe something to
the white facades of certain Andalucian houses, “los pueblos blancos”, and
discusses an etymological similarity between the river Anduin, the Great River,
and the rivers Guadalete and Gualdalquivir, the latter deriving from an Arabic
name meaning “great river” and both referred to as “Río Grande” in everyday
speech (pp. 242ff).
4. Some critical points
writing a biography about or closely related to Tolkien, one can nowadays
hardly escape from consulting The J.R.R.
Tolkien Companion and Guide (2006). I was therefore somewhat surprised to
find that La Conexión Española de J.R.R.
Tolkien did not include Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond’s magisterial
reference work in its list of references. A passage where Ferrández Bru’s exposition would have benefited from such a
reading concerns the funeral of Father Francis. Based on a recollection by
Priscilla Tolkien, Scull and Hammond note that while Tolkien himself could not
attend the funeral, his eldest son John possibly went there to represent his
father (Chronology, p. 788).
Ferrández Bru appears not to include this piece of information. Another example
is the dating of the poem ‘Perry-the-Winkle’: Ferrández Bru places the
composition of the poem to between 1920 and 1930 (citing Humphrey Carpenter’s biography
as his authority), but a quick glance in the Companion and Guide reveals a more exact year of composition in
addition to providing more information about its background (see Reader’s Guide, p. 997).
cases Ferrández Bru has instead consulted Daniel Grotta, both through
correspondence and the Spanish translation of his J.R.R. Tolkien: Architect of Middle-earth, for biographical
information about Tolkien. Grotta’s biography about Tolkien is regarded as
problematic by many Tolkien scholars, and questions about credibility therefore arise when Ferrández Bru, attributing
Grotta, writes that Father Francis soon after the death of Mabel Tolkien took
the Tolkien brothers on a railroad trip to Wales for fifteen days (p. 164).
From what I can find, no mention of this event has occurred elsewhere.
critical points notwithstanding, I consider La
Conexión Española de J.R.R. Tolkien to be a valuable contribution to
Tolkien scholarship. Ferrández Bru writes lucidly and cogently, and for anyone
seeking to find out more about Father Francis’s ancestors there is a wealth of
information (which I have not covered here). Furthermore, the neat division of
the book into clearly separated parts makes it useful as a reference work (although
it regrettably lacks an index). Like Zettersten’s book, I’m eager to see an
English edition of La Conexión Española
de J.R.R. Tolkien in a near future, hopefully revised and expanded on a
few points through consulting The J.R.R.
Tolkien Companion and Guide. A not-so-distant English edition would additionally
ensure that the quoted excerpts of Priscilla Tolkien’s reminiscences (which I
surmise are written in English) will be available in their original form.
Humphrey (1977). J.R.R. Tolkien: A
Biography. London: George Allen & Unwin.
Daniel (1992; 1st ed. 1976). J.R.R.
Tolkien: Architect of Middle-earth. Philadelphia: Running Press.
Christina and Hammond, Wayne G. (2006). The
J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: Chronology & Reader’s Guide (2 vols.). London: HarperCollins.
John and Tolkien, Priscilla (1992). The
Tolkien Family Album. London: HarperCollins.
The photograph of the “Force Enamel Advertising Sign” is copyrighted by CameraSnaps.org.uk (reproduced in accordance with the terms and limitations of use).
 “… se quitó su
sombero de ala ancha y girándose hacia la niña le dijo buenas tardes con gran ceremonia.”
 “… lo conservó en su estudio durante toda su vida y en
más de una ocasión fue capaz de repararlo a pesar de la antigüedad de su
 The onomatopoeic name “flip-flap” is used in the
Spanish text; I’m uncertain if Ferrández Bru used a Spanish expression to
translate an English variant.
 Suggesting a different (or supplementary) interpretation, Beregond, Anders Stenström has commented that while “the presence of Francis in the Gnomish Lexicon obviously reflects the presence of Francis Morgan in Tolkien’s life, its translation is probably simply etymological: the basis of the name is the same as in Frank and French, but this also came to refer to liberty, being a free man, as in frank and franchise” (comments field to this article, accessed 28 May 2013).
 “… es muy revelador que en su mundo privado, en su
creación personal, componga el nombre de su tutor usando raíces relacionadas
con la libertad y la liberación.”
 Ferrández Bru writes (p. 163) that he found an online
post, at a Tolkien forum, providing some information about books from Father
Francis’s library. He doesn’t give a link to the post, but it can be accessed
(as of 19 April 2013).
 “… una interesante línea de especulación sobre una
desconocida influencia en la obra de Tolkien”.
 A tendency discussed by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina
Scull in their blog article ‘Tolkien, Leek, and the Moorlands’ (4 September
 In his article in Tolkien
Studies, though, Ferrández Bru does mention The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide as well as the J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia edited by
Michael D.C. Drout, which he regards as “useful resources which provide new
sources of data beyond the information available in the Carpenter biography”
(p. 59, note 1). However, neither of these works is cited as a source in the
article or in La Conexión Española de
 The precursor of ‘Perry-the-Winkle’, a poem called
‘The Bumpus’, belongs to a series of unpublished poems called Tales and Songs of Bimble Bay. These
poems are “centred on an imaginary English coastal town and harbour” and date
from ca. 1928. Thus, the “real-world” background of ‘Perry-the-Winkle’ might
actually corroborate Ferrández Bru’s theory that Father Francis’s “ceremonial
‘good afternoon’” served as an inspiration for the “ceremonial Troll”.
 See Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, ‘Truth or
Consequences: A Cautionary Tale of Tolkien Studies’ (http://www.lotrplaza.com/showthread.php?16905-Truth-or-Consequences-Hammond-amp-Scull),
and the comments field to Jason Fisher’s blog post “Shadows of the past” (http://lingwe.blogspot.se/2012/08/shadows-of-past.html).
 It is possible that Grotta’s notes about Tolkien’s trip to Wales with Father Francis (which can be found in J.R.R. Tolkien: Architect, p. 27) derive from his interviews with some of “Tolkien’s friends and associates” (p. 8). It should also be made clear that Ferrández Bru does state that the version of the trip to Wales included in his book is given “according to Daniel Grotta” (“[s]egún Daniel Grotta”) and that it is not known if the trip “actually took place” (“si realmente se produjo”; p. 164). However, since Humphrey Carpenter only says that “[l]ater in childhood [Tolkien] went on a railway journey to Wales” (J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, p. 26), providing no further details (and neither are such found in Scull and Hammond’s entry for Wales, in their Reader’s Guide, p. 1085), Grotta’s version lacks supporting evidence – a critical point which I wish Ferrández Bru could have emphasized even more strongly.
Tolkien (misc.)Posted by Morgan Thomsen Tue, July 31, 2012 21:09:52
[Updates (10 September 2012): Douglas A. Anderson has noted some additional information and corrections about Robert J. Lee's illustrations over at his blog "Tolkien and Fantasy". (23 October 2013): Some additional images and notes can be found at MyTolkienBooks.com.]
In January 1967,
Tolkien’s secretary Joy Hill sent him a copy of The Children’s Treasury of Literature (edited by Bryna and Louis
Untermeyer, first published in 1966 by Paul Hamlyn), which includes the chapter
“An Unexpected Party” from The Hobbit.
The chapter as published in The
Children’s Treasury of Literature (appearing on pp. 463–86, with an editors’
introduction on p. 462) features 18 illustrations by Robert J. Lee (1921–1994):
4 in full colour, and 14 in monochrome or duotone.
On 5 January 1967,
Tolkien wrote to Hill, describing his reception of the anthology:
“I think a
great many of the illustrations are very good, including some of the modern
ones. Illustrations to The Hobbit extract seem to me worst of all, vulgar,
stupid, and entirely out of keeping with the text which Robert J. Lee does not
seem to have read with any care” (Reader’s
Guide, pp. 421–2).
I bought a copy of the
anthology about a week ago, and below I will identify all of Lee’s illustrations
for the chapter from The Hobbit. I
have also provided a scan of three illustrations, and I will finally offer a brief
1. Duotone illustration in
blue and black (p. 462), depicting Bilbo, Gandalf, three dwarves, Smaug, and
illustration (p. 463), depicting Bilbo outside his house.
illustration (p. 464), depicting Belladona Took.
illustration (p. 465), depicting Gandalf.
illustration (pp. 466–7), depicting Bilbo and Gandalf outside Bag End.
illustration (pp. 468–9), depicting Bilbo and ?Dwalin.
illustration (pp. 470–1), depicting four dwarves
eating and drinking at Bilbo’s table.
8. Duotone illustration
in blue and black (p. 472), depicting an angry Bilbo rushing
towards his door.
9. Duotone illustration
in blue and black (p. 473), depicting Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, and Thorin.
10. Full-colour illustration
(p. 474), depicting two dwarves balancing
columns of plates, with a worried Bilbo in the background.
11. Duotone illustration
in yellow and black (p. 477), depicting four dwarves playing music on their
instruments. From left to right: a dwarf (Dwalin or Balin) with a viol, Bombur
with a drum, a dwarf (Dori, Nori, or Ori) with a
flute, and Thorin with his harp.
illustration (p. 479), depicting Bullroarer Took on his horse, knocking goblins
with a wooden club.
illustration (p. 480), depicting Gandalf reading Thror's Map, in the light of a
lamp, with four dwarves in the background.
illustration (p. 481), depicting the head of Smaug protruding behind a hill.
illustration (p. 482), depicting a dwarf having
found gold and jewels.
16. Monochrome illustration
(p. 483), depicting a flying Smaug.
illustration (p. 484), depicting Smaug wreaking havoc on Dale.
18. Duotone illustration
in blue and black (p. 486), depicting three dwarves
sleeping on pieces of Bilbo’s furniture.
As can be seen in the
illustrations collected in J.R.R.
Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator and The
Art of The
Hobbit, Tolkien preferred to draw landscapes (especially in his pictures for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings); there are very few actual portraits, and when people
occasionally appear in a landscape, they are often very small and in the
Robert Lee focuses on the characters
in his illustrations for
Party”; at best the sense of an environment is peripheral and serves only to
highlight the actions of the characters.
Tolkien’s dislike of the
work of the Disney Studio is well documented, and maybe the comical style of
Lee’s illustrations was off-putting to Tolkien. In comparison, the
illustrations of Tolkien’s favourite artist, Pauline Baynes, showed an elegant style,
often inspired by
“medieval manuscript illuminations” (Reader's Guide, p. 76).
Another source of
disapprovement was perhaps Lee’s use of colour. In describing a hobbit to his American publisher, Tolkien wrote
”Clothing: green velvet breeches; red or yellow waistcoat; brown or green
jacket; gold (or brass) buttons; a dark green hood and cloak” (The Art of The Hobbit, p. 140). These earth
tones are naturally in stark contrast to Lee’s 1960s psychedelic colours:
saturated shades of pink, violet, orange and blue (e.g., see illustration nr.
These differences may point to reasons why Tolkien found Lee’s
illustrations to be
“stupid”. However, I would personally say that
the remark about the illustrations being
“out of keeping with the text” to be too
harsh. Lee’s close reading can perhaps most clearly bee seen in illustration
nr. 5. Bilbo’s feet have “natural leathery soles and thick warm brown hair”, and
“an enormous long wooden pipe that reached nearly down to his woolly
“out a beautiful grey ring of smoke”. Gandalf is portrayed as a
“little old man with a tall pointed blue hat, a long grey cloak” and having a “long white beard” and
“immense black boots”. The picture also shows Bag End’s
“perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass
knob in the exact middle”. A detail is Bilbo’s hat; as far as I can see, there
is no mention of Bilbo having a hat in the first chapter of The Hobbit. But in the beginning of the
“Roast Mutton”, it is written:
the end of his days Bilbo could never remember how he found himself outside, without a hat, [emphasis
mine] walking-stick or say money”.
It is possible that Lee drew
inspiration from this remark!
Furthermore, in illustration nr. 11, Lee has taken care to include only those instruments mentioned
Tolkien had strong
opinions about art, and was often sceptical towards illustrations
inspired by his works, especially when these deviated from descriptions in his
textual passages (Reader's Guide, pp. 418–22). Robert J. Lee, however,
was more-or-less faithful to the original text and it appears that Tolkien’s
dislike for Lee’s work stems from a profound divergence in artistic taste and
style between the two individuals.
I am grateful to Daniel Helen for various comments and suggestions.
Hammond, Wayne G. & Scull, Christina (2011). The Art of The Hobbit. London: HarperCollins.
Hammond, Wayne G. & Scull, Christina (2004; first published 1995). J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator. London: HarperCollins.
“Storybook Illustration”, at http://todaysinspiration.blogspot.se/2006/09/storybook-illustration.html (dated 4 September 2006, accessed 31 July 2012).
Scull, Christina & Hammond, Wayne G. (2006). The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: Reader’s Guide. London: HarperCollins.
Tolkien, J.R.R. (1999; first published 1937). The Hobbit. London: HarperCollins.