Tolkien Gateway

Letter 140

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 140
RecipientRayner Unwin
Date17 August 1953
Subject(s)Naming the volumes of The Lord of the Rings, illustrations

Letter 140 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Rayner Unwin had just visited Tolkien, and he thanked Rayner for coming and clearing things up. Only after Rayner had left did Tolkien realize that his guest never had any beer or other refreshment. He apologized for the below-hobbit standards.

For the volumes of The Lord of the Rings Tolkien suggested "The Fellowship of the Ring", "The Two Towers", and "The War of the Ring", or if Rayner still preferred, "The Return of the King". The first title fit, especially since the last chapter in the volume was "The Breaking of the Fellowship". The second title got as near as possible to covering the widely divergent Books 3 and 4. The identities of which two towers were meant could be left ambiguous. For the third volume he thought "The War of the Ring" better. It mentioned the Ring again and was more non-committal, less revealing of the turn of the story.

Tolkien doubted if red letters were important enough for the Ring inscription to warrant the expense of alteration. He proposed including the last page of the Book of Mazarbul because it closely concerned the narrative.

On 1 September Tolkien said he would personally bring the copy for Volume II, already well in order. He was turning to the Maps and Foreword.

Tolkien asked Rayner to excuse the red typewriting. He was saving money by using a type-reel with used up black but hardly used red.