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Christopher Tolkien

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[[Category:Tolkien Family|Tolkien, Christopher]]
[[Category:Tolkien Family|Tolkien, Christopher]]

Revision as of 18:36, 26 July 2010

Christopher Tolkien.jpg
Christopher Tolkien
Biographical information
BornNovember 21st, 1924
OccupationAuthor, Professor

Christopher Reuel Tolkien (born November 21, 1924) is the third child and youngest son of J.R.R. Tolkien and Edith Tolkien. He is currently the literary executor[1] of the Tolkien Estate and has edited much of his father's work for posthumous publication.


Early life

Christoher Tolkien was named after his father's friend, Christopher Wiseman (he also sometimes uses his confirmation name, "John" as seen on his initials of maps of The Lord of the Rings, "CJRT").

Born in Leeds and raised in Oxford, Christopher went to the Dragon School in Oxford and Oratory School in Caversham, Berkshire. Due to a heart ailment, he was forced to stay at home and work with a private tutor. He enjoyed watching stars with a telescope as well as a passion for railways. As early as four and five, Christopher was concerned with the consistency of The Hobbit.

"Last time, you said Bilbo's front door was blue, and you said Thorin had a golden tassel on his hood, but you've just said that Bilbo's front door was green and that Thorin's hood was silver"
― Christopher Tolkien, foreword to The Hobbit

Christopher proved invaluable towards correcting The Hobbit and was paid twopence a correction.

Young adulthood

In July of 1943 he entered the Royal Air Force and in 1944 he went to South Africa to train as a pilot. His absence did not however slow his contributions to his father's works as his father continually sent him parts of The Lord of the Rings to go over. In 1945 he returned to England and was stationed in Shropshire and later that year he returned to Oxford. On October 9th, 1945 his father informed him that the Inklings wished to consider him a permanent member. The task of reading The Lord of the Rings to the Inklings was passed on to Christopher and it was generally agreed that he was a better reader than his father.


In 1946 Christopher returned to Trinity College to resume his studies and reading English. For a while his tutor was none other than C.S. Lewis. His thesis was a translation of The Saga of King Heidrek the Wise and he received his B.A. in 1949. Christopher also became a lecturer in Old and Middle English as well as Old Icelandic at Oxford. He worked as an editor on Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, the Pardoner's Tale, and the Nun's Priest's Tale. From 1963 to 1975 he was a Fellow of New College, Oxford but resigned when he began to devote his time to his father's literary affairs.

After his father's death

After his father's death, Christopher embarked on organizing the masses of his father's notes, some of them written on odd scraps of paper a half-century earlier. Much of the material was handwritten, frequently a fair draft was written over a half-erased first draft, and names of characters routinely changed between the beginning and end of the same draft. Deciphering this was an arduous task, and perhaps only someone with personal experience of J.R.R. and the evolution of his stories could have made any sense of it; even so, Christopher has admitted to having to occasionally guess at what his father intended.

With the help of Guy Gavriel Kay he managed to compile The Silmarillion in only four years. During this time he also edited his father's translations of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Sir Orfeo. He also worked on the Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings which was first published in 1975 as Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings in A Tolkien Compass.

Christopher spent the years after continuing to study his father's works and taking the responsibilities of the Tolkien Estate. He recorded portions of The Silmarillion in 1977 and 1978 which was issued by Caedmon Records, New York. In 1979 he wrote about his father's illustrations and drawings for their publication in Tolkien calendars and Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien. Through 1980 and 1983 Christopher edited Unfinished Tales, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays, and The Book of Lost Tales Part 1 which was the first volume in his twelve volume series of The History of Middle-earth, the last of which was published in 1996. In 1998 he edited a new edition of Tree and Leaf including the poem Mythopoeia. In 2007, he edited The Children of Húrin. His latest publication has been the editing of The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún which was published in 2009.

Response to adaptations

"...I recognize that this is a debatable and complex question of art, and the suggestions that have been made that I 'disapprove' of the films, whatever their cinematic quality, even to the extent of thinking ill of those with whom I may differ, are wholly without foundation."
― Christopher Tolkien


Christopher's first wife, Faith (1928) took an English degree at Oxford and they had one son, Simon Tolkien. A bust of Tolkien by Faith was exhibited at the Royal Academy: Tolkien paid for its casting in bronze. It is now in the English Library in Oxford.

Christopher's second wife, Baillie (1941) is Canadian, and is the daughter of Winnipeg surgeon Alan Klass, and Helen Klass (née Jacob). She has a BA in English from the University of Manitoba and an MA from Oxford. She worked as J.R.R. Tolkien's secretary and was responsible for the section on poetry in the 1965 index to The Lord of the Rings. She later edited The Father Christmas Letters. She and Christopher have two children, Adam Tolkien and Rachel Tolkien.




  • 1955-6: 'The Battle of the Goths and the Huns'. Christopher Tolkien, in Saga-Book (University College, London, for the Viking Society for Northern Research) 14, part 3 (1955-6), pp. [141]-63.
  • 1975: 'Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings'. J.R.R. Tolkien, ed. Chris- topher Tolkien, in: A Tolkien Compass. Ed. Jared Lobdell, La Salle, Illinois: Open Court, 1975.
  • 1975: Handwritten note by Christopher Tolkien, dated March 1974, introducing two pages of script by J.R.R. Tolkien, reproduced in: Les Aventures de Tom Bombadil. J.R.R. Tolkien, trad. Dashiell Hedayat. Paris: Christian Bourgois Editeur, 1975.
  • 1982: 'The Tengwar Numerals'. Christopher Tolkien ('CRT after JRRT'), in Quettar 13, Feb. 1982, pp. 8-9; rptd. Beyond Bree Dec. 1984, p. 1. Further, untitled, explanation of Tengwar numerals by Christopher Tolkien ('CRT after JRRT 10 March 1982'), in Quettar 14, May 1982, pp. 6-7.
  • 1983: '...Future Publishing'. Christopher Tolkien, in Amon Hen 63, August 1983, p. 4; rptd. as 'Statement by Christopher Tolkien' in Beyond Bree, November 1983, p. 2.
  • 1984: '"Moria Gate" ... Another Look'. Christopher Tolkien, in Amon Hen 70, November 1984, p.3.
  • 1986: 'Notes on the Differences in editions of The Hobbit cited by Mr. David Cofield'. Christopher Tolkien, in Beyond Bree July 1986, pp. 1-3.
  • 1988: The BBC Pronunciation Guide to The Lord of the Rings. Nancy Martsch, in Beyond Bree, August 1988, pp. 1-2. [About the transcription of Christopher Tolkien's recording of words and names in The Lord of the Rings for the BBC production by Brian Sibley.]
  • 1994: "A Note on the Maps" in The Lord of the Rings, (1994 edition by HarperCollins Publishers, p.1140 of the one-volume edition)


  • 1976: The Lord of the Rings 1977 Calendar. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1976. Notes on the Pictures by Christopher Tolkien.
  • 1976: Catalogue of an Exhibition of Drawings by J.R.R. Tolkien at the Ashmolean Museum Oxford ... Oxford: The Ashmolean Museum, 1976. Introduction by Baillie Tolkien. [?14 Dec 76]
  • 1977: The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien: A Brief Account of the Book and its Making (pamphlet)
  • 1977: The Silmarillion Calendar 1978. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1977. Notes on the Pictures by Christopher Tolkien.
  • 1978: J.R.R. Tolkien Calendar 1979. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1978. Notes on the Pictures by Christopher Tolkien.
  • 1978: Map of Beleriand and the Lands to the North [poster]. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1978. As drawn by Christopher Tolkien for The Silmarillion, with colouring by H.E. Riddett.
  • 1980: Letter from Christopher Tolkien to Jared Lobdell, 21 June 1974, reproduced in: Eorclanstanar [Precious Stones] or The Hobbitiana: an offering of rarities by J.R.R. Tolkien [catalogue]. Melissa and Mark Hime [booksellers]. Idyllwild, California: 1980.


  • 1977: J.R.R. Tolkien: The Silmarillion: Of Beren and Luthien, read by Christopher Tolkien. New York: Caedmon Records TC1564, 1977. Sleeve notes by Christopher Tolkien. (Sleeve also has photo of CT.)
  • 1978: J.R.R. Tolkien: Of the Darkening of Valinor, and Of the Flight of the Noldor, from The Silmarillion, read by Christopher Tolkien. New York: Caedmon Records TC 1579, 1978. Sleeve notes by Christopher Tolkien. (Sleeve also has photo of CT.)

Family Tree

Edith Bratt
J.R.R. Tolkien
John Tolkien
Michael Tolkien
Faith Faulconbridge
Christopher Tolkien
Baillie Tolkien
Priscilla Tolkien
Simon Tolkien
Adam Tolkien
Rachel Tolkien

See also


  1. : History of Middle-earth retrieved 2010-06-25.

External links