Tolkien Gateway

David Day

David Day
Biographical information
Born14 October 1947[1]
EducationUniversity of Victoria[1]

David Day (born 14 October 1947, Victoria, British Columbia) is a prolific Canadian author who has written several Tolkien-related books. Primarily known for his reference books, starting with A Tolkien Bestiary in 1978, Day's books have been published in over 120 different editions in over 20 languages.[2]

Day's books have been repeatedly criticised by the Tolkien community for their inaccuracy. Day rejects the charge of inaccuracy, though he accepts that his reference books have been repackaged and reprinted by publishers under different titles when the contents are "identical."[3]


[edit] Accuracy

Despite reportedly selling over 4 million books,[4] Day is regarded as having a "bad reputation" amongst the Tolkien community.[5] The Tolkien Society does not recommend any of Day's books in their suggested readings (preferring Robert Foster's The Complete Guide to Middle-earth instead)[6] whilst David Bratman, editor of the Tolkien Studies journal, makes the same suggestion that David Day's books are "Not Recommended".[7] Troels Forchammer politely noted in his blog that "Day is infamous in Tolkien circles for his creative re-interpretation of Tolkien's work"[8] whilst Michael Martinez made the sterner observation that "In Tolkien scholarship the worst insult one could deliver at any point for many years was equivalent to 'That sounds like something David Day wrote'."[9]

Tolkien Meta-FAQ author Steuard Jensen said about A Tolkien Bestiary that "it is not wise to rely on this book for information on Tolkien's vision of Middle-earth" and that "it is important to be aware that a considerable number of other details in those vivid descriptions were invented by Day himself with little or no justification in the texts, and that these extrapolations are not distinguished from the justified facts in any way".[10] In particular, A Tolkien Bestiary (and its derivative Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopedia) has been specifically criticised for its entries on Beren, Giants, long-worms, Sauron, Telcontari,[10][11] whilst the map of Middle-earth is especially criticised for differing so obviously from Tolkien's own maps.[5][12][13]

Day accepts that the Tolkien community do not approve of his books: he confirms that Tolkien reviewers have described his books as "a piece of garbage", "worthless", "junk don't bother" and "avoid this or any of David Day's books like the plague."[14] Day has also cited the views of posters at The Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza:

"Don't read it. Nothing David Day has ever written is worth buying."
"I know that people despise David Day's Bestiary."
"David Day is a liar, a fabricator and a down right greedy ass."
"To this day I have not read any book by Day, but I agree ..."
"Day is a fabricating idiot."
"Luckily I never looked. No piece of David Day "facts" roaming in my head."
"I read somewhere that he included stuff from the role-playing and card games."
"Day never read any of Tolkien's books in their entirety. Moron that he is."
"Can anyone tell me what is going on with this David Day moron?"
"What he does I find absolutely disgusting."
"Many other people tell me David Day is a moron, I was just quoting."
"He is a filthy little thief and one mustn't buy his books."
"It would be truly great to get David Day's books removed from bookshelves."
"David Day is a waste of space"
—David Day quoting reviews of his own books

In defending himself Day went on to claim that members of the "Tolkien Taliban are not conducting informed literary exchanges of information, but have for years indulged in ill-informed malicious gossip, and a sustained thuggish campaign of abusive cyber-bullying."[14] It was noted by another commenter that Day had failed to provide a single reference from J.R.R. Tolkien to defend claims of inaccuracy.[15] Day asserts that his books are "extremely popular" and are better for "giving the general reader an overview of Tolkien's world".[3]

More recently The Battles of Tolkien has been described saying
"One of the surprises to me is that this book contains genuinely new content; this isn’t just a rehashing of previous books. And the factual pieces of information on the battles and the characters are accurate: it was a pleasant surprise to me to find none of the painfully obvious errors that were common throughout the previous two books. Similarly, the chronologies – save for one inconsistency on the War of Wrath – were also accurate."
Gunner, Shaun. "Review: The Battles of Tolkien" in Amon Hen 267

Having acknowledged that the book contains fewer factual errors than earlier books by Day, the reviewer describes it as "not a work of reference, but an attempt at analysis" and describing the analysis as "a bunch of clichéd theories that failed to stretch beyond a child pointing at things and exclaiming “This is like that!”."

[edit] Oxonmoot Controversy

David Day attended Oxonmoot 2004 yet failed to pay for his attendance. In the minutes of The Tolkien Society committee meeting held on 30th October 2004 it states that:

Chris [Chris Crawshaw, Chairman] has also written to David Day to ask him to pay his registration for Oxonmoot. She was instructed by the meeting to keep badgering him about this, since he seems to feel his 'celebrity' status exempts him from such mundane details
Amon Hen 191, page 19

Four months later in the minutes of a committee meeting held on the 26th February 2005 it is recorded:

Since David Day has still not paid his registration for Oxonmoot, it was agreed that he should be blacklisted for future events.
Amon Hen 193, page 17

There are no other recorded incidents of The Tolkien Society blacklisting individuals from attending their events.

[edit] Bibliography

[edit] External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 "David Day (Author of A Tolkien Bestiary)", goodreads (accessed 21 January 2015)
  2. "DAY, David", ABC Bookworld (accessed 21 January 2015)
  3. 3.0 3.1 "David Day's reply to Nelson Goering's review of Tolkien : The Illustrated Encyclopaedia" dated 21 January 2015, (accessed 21 January 2015)
  4. "Welcome to David Day's site", David Day's site (accessed 21 January 2015)
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Tolkien dictionary by David Day - Worth buying?", Reddit (accessed 21 January 2015)
  6. "Books about Tolkien", The Tolkien Society (accessed 21 January 2015)
  7. "Recommended books on Tolkien", David Bratman's Home Page (accessed 21 January 2015)
  8. "Tolkien Transactions XXXIII" dated 1 February 2013, Parma-kenta (accessed 21 January 2015)
  9. "Why Wikipedia Content Cannot Be Trusted" dated 7 March 2007, Tolkien Studies Blog (accessed 21 January 2015)
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Notes on David Day's Tolkien Books", Tolkien Meta-FAQ (accessed 21 January 2015)
  11. "List of Errors in David Day’s books", The Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza: Forum (accessed 21 January 2015)
  12. "A Customer's review of Tolkien : The Illustrated Encyclopaedia" dated 23 August 1999, (accessed 21 January 2015)
  13. "A guide to Tolkien by David Day", The Lord of the Rings Fanatics Plaza: Forum (accessed 21 January 2015)
  14. 14.0 14.1 "David Day's reply to Nelson Goering's review of Tolkien : The Illustrated Encyclopaedia" dated 20 January 2015, (accessed 21 January 2015)
  15. "C. Rosenthal's reply to Nelson Goering's review of Tolkien : The Illustrated Encyclopaedia" dated 21 January 2015, (accessed 21 January 2015)