Tolkien Gateway

Letter 115

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 115
RecipientKatherine Farrer
Date15 June (year not given, possibly 1948)
Subject(s)Offering Silmarillion material for reading

Letter 115 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

The letter is part of Tolkien's correspondence with Mrs. Katherine Farrer, the wife of Dr. Austin Farrer, theologian and at that time Chaplain of Trinity College.[1]


[edit] Summary

Tolkien was touched and excited by a kind letter Mrs. Farrer had sent to him.[note 1] Although he had worked on "these things" since 1914 only C.S. Lewis and his Christopher had wanted to read them and no one wanted to publish them. After she had written, Tolkien collected what was more or less finished (and legible) for her to read. He said that the "compendious history" or Silmarillion was tolerable but only half-revised.

Tolkien listed three long tales that were incomplete or not up to date: The Fall of Gondolin, "The Lay of Beren and Lúthien" (verse), and The Children of Húrin. He was distressed that he could not find the "Rings of Power".[note 2] It, plus the "Fall of Númenor", linked the Silmarillion with the Hobbit world. He promised to bring round some unique manuscripts for her.

[edit] Response

In Morgoth's Ring, Christopher Tolkien discusses the drafts of this letter, where his father explains the Elvish "Flat World Version" of the legends, and the Mannish "Round World Version" of the Ainulindale. Farrer replied to him (October 1948) that she liked the Flat Earth version better, as "The hope of Heaven is the only thing which makes modern astronomy tolerable". Christopher guesses that her response influenced his father to abandon the "Round World" text he was working on.[2]


  1. She had apparently asked to read The Silmarillion and related materials.
  2. Possibly Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part One. Ainulindalë", p. 5
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Morgoth's Ring, "Part One. Ainulindalë", p. 6