Tolkien Gateway

Letter 312

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 312
RecipientAmy Ronald
Date16 November 1969
Subject(s)Miss Ronald’s health, flowers of Middle-earth and others experienced by Tolkien

Letter 312 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Tolkien was perturbed by Miss Ronald's afflictions and said that he would pray for her. It might work because it seemed like humour that God was so curiously ready to answer the prayers of the least worthy suppliants, if they prayed for others.

Tolkien greatly enjoyed the Cape Flower Book.[note 1] Nothing immediately recalled niphredil, elanor, or alfirin since they were imaginary flowers but he then described them as he imagined them: Niphredil would be a delicate kin of a snowdrop. Elanor would be a pimpernel (perhaps a little enlarged) growing sun-golden flowers and star-silver ones on the same plant, and sometimes the two combined. Alfirin ("immortal") would be an immortelle, but not dry and papery: simply a beautiful bell-like flower, running through many colours, but soft and gentle.

All illustrated botany books or direct contact with unfamiliar flora especially fascinated him, said Tolkien. Not so much the rare, unusual, or unrelated specimens, but the variations and permutations of flowers that were kin to those he knew. Those aroused visions of kinship and descent through great ages. He told of seeing a beautiful fox-glove that was also a figwort, showing the kinship. He also related a story of planting daises in which one strayed into enormously rich soil and produced a flower four times the normal size with six pick-tipped little elvish daisies like an airy crown.

[edit] Note

  1. Mary Maytham Kidd’s Wild Flower of the Cape Peninsula