Tolkien's Letters

All about J.R.R.Tolkien's life, his beliefs and philosophies, and his interests
Varda
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Post by Varda » Fri Sep 23, 2005 10:26 pm

I wonder if the recluse nature of Christopher Tolkien is why more of his father's papers haven't been published...somewhere along the line I ran into an aquaintance who finding out how much I loved Tolkien, told me of a story of meeting Priscilla, J.R.R.'s daughter, at her home. AND of the rather large stack of 'papers' she had that had belonged to her father, just sitting out.... :shock: It was enough to sends shivers up my back!!

You have to wonder how much more of his work ( letters, stories, art) is still hidden away... :shock:
O Elbereth! Gilthomiel!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees,
Thy starlight on the Western Seas.

Iolanthe
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Post by Iolanthe » Fri Sep 30, 2005 3:54 pm

'Large stack of papers'? It's so tantalizing. Maybe one day? It all depends how personal it is and who's making the judgements. Like Riv I wouldn't want to intrude but would love to know more of the workings of his mind. I've just started dipping into the published letters so I'm bound to be coming up with endless questions soon :D . I feel I've got a long way to go and a lot to learn.
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

marbretherese
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Post by marbretherese » Sun Oct 23, 2005 9:54 pm

I'm roughly half way through the letters now (no, I couldn't wait until Christmas!) and, being relatively ignorant of the background to LOTR, finding them fascinating (I work in publishing so the tussles he had with his publishers, sub-editors and translators are also of particular interest). From the letters, I now know a lot more about the Silmarillion than previously, and I'm looking forward to reading that soon.

Wonderful: Tolkien received a letter from a real Sam Gamgee (and ended up sending him the three volumes of LOTR!). In his reply he reveals that as a child the word "Gamgee" was used for cotton wool, so in the story he connected the families of Gamgee and Cotton !

I was much struck by Tolkien's assertion that "legends depend upon the language to which they belong; but a living language depends equally on the legends which it conveys by tradition". I'd never thought of it in those terms before.
"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back.
But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy."


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Merry
Varda
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Post by Merry » Sun Oct 23, 2005 10:15 pm

Oh, it's so nice to see you here, marbretherese! I'm glad you're enjoying the letters, too.

The quote you give us is interesting. It's related to some ideas from Shippey that I've been trying to talk about in another thread. I think Tolkien is unique in that the language is such an important factor in his writing. And I've recently figured out that it's not just the invented languages, but even his choices of which English words to use are significant. So even our own language is the stuff of legends!
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

Varda
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Location: maryland

Post by Varda » Mon Oct 24, 2005 1:25 am

A *real* Sam Gamgee, now that is a wonderful thought! :D
O Elbereth! Gilthomiel!
We still remember, we who dwell
In this far land beneath the trees,
Thy starlight on the Western Seas.

marbretherese
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Post by marbretherese » Mon Oct 24, 2005 12:27 pm

Merry wrote: I think Tolkien is unique in that the language is such an important factor in his writing.


Yes, it's clear from the letters that his love of language is what started him off, and everything else evolved from there; to the extent that after LOTR was published, he had time and again to explain that he did not consciously include symbolism or allegory in the story - he was coming from quite a different place.

As well as a lot about the history and development of language, some wonderfully funny situations arise, such as Tolkien's letter concerning a Dutch translation of place names in LOTR - his point being: why translate them at all?

The Sam Gamgee letter reminds us just how much care Tolkien took when choosing names - no wonder he didn't want them altered!
"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back.
But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy."


http://www.marbretherese.com
http://marbretherese.blogspot.com/

Cheyenne Angel
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Post by Cheyenne Angel » Thu Mar 08, 2007 5:29 pm

I don't know if I'm in the right post of the forum for that : ... :oops: ...

AUTOGRAPH LETTERS AND MANUSCRIPTS
TOLKIEN and BIRMINGHAM - SAREHOLE MILL
Counterpart of a mortgage in fee whereby "Richard Eaves of Sarehole in the Parish of Yardley in the County of Worcester Gentleman" grants to "Richard Horsman the Elder of Campden in the County of Gloucester Fruiterer" for £800 "all that Water Corn Mill with the Appurtenances called by the Name of Biddles Mill otherwise the little Mill which said Mill with the Appurtenances hath been lately taken down and new built by the said Richard Eaves" together with other property nearby (specified), signed and sealed by Richard Horsman, on two skins of vellum, duty-stamps, usual light dust-staining, especially to verso, but overall in fine condition, 25 May 1769

Estimate: £600 - 800
Footnote:
Sarehole Mill occupies a central place in the story of J.R.R. Tolkien, as John Ezard, then writing for the Oxford Mail, discovered: "Seven years before his death Tolkien told me about Sarehole, his imaginative heartland, a small village near Birmingham which was the starting-point for his fictional Shire in both The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. This was in 1966, when he was just beginning to be a bestseller. The Hobbit was not then, as it is now, the most popular work of fiction in 20th century publishing history. He was news because of his efforts to counter an American pirate edition of the Ring trilogy. But he was much more interested in talking about Sarehole, where he had grown up between the ages of four and eight during the last four years of the 19th century. He dated everything from it. 'It was a kind of lost paradise' he said. 'There was an old mill that really did grind corn with two millers, a great big pond with swans on it, a sandpit, a wonderful dell with flowers, a few old-fashioned village houses and, further away, a stream with another mill. I always knew it would go - and it did'". In 1967, Tolkien sent Ezard a copy of his story 'Smith of Wootton Major', with its opening: "There was a village once, not very long ago for those with long memories nor very far away for those with long legs". "It was", writes Ezard, "unmistakably, his imaginative farewell to Sarehole" ('Tolkien's Shire', Guardian, 28 December 1991).


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Merry
Varda
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Post by Merry » Thu Mar 08, 2007 9:52 pm

Neat: isn't somebody working to preserve that area for posterity?

I have wondered about what a sandpit is. I'm not sure we have them in the US--at least I don't know of any. Are sandpits regular features of the landscape in England?
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

marbretherese
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Post by marbretherese » Sat Mar 10, 2007 12:38 pm

Merry, to me, a sandpit means a small play area filled with sand for children to mess about in or build sandcastles - a favourite pastime when I was growing up. I'm not sure whether kids in England enjoy sandpits any more, as I don't have children of my own. But it's possible that the sandpit at Sarehole Mill was a larger affair with some kind of practical function - the description quoted by Cheyenne Angel doesn't suggest a child's play area, but rather Tolkien and his brother making up their own games on the edge of the adult world!

There's a littlle more information about Sarehole Mill - and other places which influenced Tolkien's works - on these websites:

http://www.bplphoto.co.uk/TolkiensBirmi ... rehole.htm
http://www.authatrails.com/tolkien/sarehole.html
"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back.
But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy."


http://www.marbretherese.com
http://marbretherese.blogspot.com/

Merry
Varda
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Post by Merry » Sat Mar 10, 2007 3:52 pm

We call those 'sandboxes' here in the States, but I haven't seen one in ages! Do kids still play in sandboxes when they have video games to keep their interest? :(

I guess I was imaging that a sandpit was some kind of huge natural formation.
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

marbretherese
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Post by marbretherese » Sun Mar 11, 2007 4:26 pm

I'm not sure about the size of the sandpit Tolkien refers to, but a little more Googling has established that it was near Moseley Bog, site of an old clay quarry, which means it probably was for industrial use and could well be a natural feature. These links might yield some more info, & one of the comments posted on the first suggests that there is indeed a move to preserve the local sites connected to Tolkien!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/legacies/myths_leg ... le_2.shtml

http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/printer/Ge ... MENU_ID=15
"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back.
But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy."


http://www.marbretherese.com
http://marbretherese.blogspot.com/

Merry
Varda
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Post by Merry » Sun Mar 11, 2007 9:32 pm

Thanks for the links, marbretherese--interesting!

The sandpit makes it into the LOTR, I think--no time to look it up today, but weren't the bodies of the ruffians buried in a sandpit after the Battle of Bywater?

I think your links make it clearer to me that the feeling of realism we get when we read about Middle-earth has a good basis.
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

marbretherese
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Joined: Sat Sep 17, 2005 1:42 pm
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Post by marbretherese » Tue Mar 13, 2007 9:40 am

:worship:

Merry, do you by any chance have an encyclopaedic knowledge of LOTR? I only ask because that's amazing recall - I had to search to find the reference, but it is there!!


Even in the small details Tolkien draws from life - that's what gives his work such depth! :D
"Torment in the dark was the danger that I feared, and it did not hold me back.
But I would not have come, had I known the danger of light and joy."


http://www.marbretherese.com
http://marbretherese.blogspot.com/

Iolanthe
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Post by Iolanthe » Tue Mar 13, 2007 11:56 am

Thanks for the links, mabreterese :D . What an idyllic place to spend part of your childhood. I handn't realised it was so beautiful there - especially so close to the centre of Birmingham as it is now!

Maybe we should have a look for one of the Tolkien Society events at Sarehole and think about going to one (now I'm a member).
Now let the song begin! Let us sing together
Of sun, stars, moon and mist, rain and cloudy weather...

Merry
Varda
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Joined: Wed Aug 17, 2005 7:01 am
Location: Middle-west

Post by Merry » Tue Mar 13, 2007 4:17 pm

Ha, marbretherese! My knowledge of LOTR is much like my knowledge of the rest of life--I seem to recall some things very well and others not at all! I've read LOTR many times, and I've had the thought of somebody just tossed into a sandpit and covered as a form of burial. :shock:

I am so jealous of you Brits who can easily go to the sacred spaces!
Sing and be glad, all ye children of the West,
for your King shall come again,
and he shall dwell among you
all the days of your life.

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