Tolkien Gateway

Letter 47

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 47
RecipientStanley Unwin
Date7 December 1942
Subject(s)Were the Lord of the Rings or Farmer Giles of Ham wanted?

Letter 47 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Unwin had written to say that Foyle’s bookshop in London would be issuing The Hobbit as part of their Children's Book club, which enabled Allen and Unwin to reprint the book (most desirable since an air-raid had destroyed their previous stock of copies).

Tolkien asked if, in the present situation[notes 1], he should try to finish the sequel to The Hobbit. He had worked on it intermittently since 1938, with interruptions from official work, domestic work, and "Civil Defense".[notes 2] It was nearing completion and he hoped to complete it early next year. He had misgivings though because it was very long, sometimes more alarming than The Hobbit, and in fact not a "juvenile" at all. It had reached Chapter XXXI[notes 3] and would need at least six more (already sketched). Would an "epic" be considered under present circumstances? Would Unwin want to wait until it was all done? It had the approval of his sons and C.S. Lewis, but it was a question of paper, bulk and market! It needed two maps.

The burning of The Hobbit was a blow, but Tolkien blamed himself for not expressing his sympathy for their loss.

Tolkien inquired if Unwin would consider a volume of shorter stories with verses. He mentioned that Farmer Giles had pleased a large number of children and adults. If too short he could add one or two tales and "Tom Bombadil".

[edit] Notes

  1. World War II
  2. Tolkien was an Air Raid Warden in 1942.
  3. "Flotsam and Jetsam" in the yet undivided Lord of the Rings.