Tolkien Gateway

Letter 31

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 31
RecipientC.A. Furth of Allen and Unwin
Date24 July 1938
Subject(s)Delays in writing The Lord of the Rings, Farmer Giles of Ham, Mr. Bliss

Letter 31 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

The Hobbit should have come out in 1938 instead of 1937, said Tolkien, because in 1939 he would have the time and mood to write the sequel. Current work pressures through September had dried up all invention, the sequel remained where it had stopped, and he had no idea what to do with it. He listed reasons for being stymied: First, the original was never intended to have a sequel. Second, all usable motives had been packed into The Hobbit so a sequel would look thinner. Third, while he enjoyed Hobbits being Hobbits this was not the case with his fans. Fourth, his mind was more preoccupied with The Silmarillion.

In 1937 Tolkien had suggested to Allen and Unwin that Farmer Giles of Ham might be a successor to The Hobbit. In this letter Tolkien mentioned that he had rewritten Farmer Giles about 50% longer and read it to the Lovelace Society (the essay club of Worcester College, Oxford) where it was well received. However, its tone was different from The Hobbit, having a more adult and satiric flavor. Also he had not written more stories about the Little Kingdom that Allen & Unwin would need to make a full-length book. Tolkien suggested a publication of his story, Mr. Bliss. He ended the letter stating that he could not produce The Hobbit sequel by September, 1938 but hoped that inspiration and the mood would return.