Tolkien Gateway

Letter 148

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 148
RecipientKatherine Farrer
Date7 August 1954
Subject(s)Nasturtians, a busy year

Letter 148 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Tolkien acknowledged that misprints still existed in Volume I, but nasturtians was deliberate and represented a final triumph over the high-handed printers. They had corrected his English without reference to him and he had been put to the trouble of proving to the chief proof-reader his own ignorance and rebuking him for his impertinence. He had dug in about nasturtians, which he had always said. It was an Anglicization after the "Indian Cress" was naturalized in the 18th century.

Tolkien had consulted the college gardener: "What do you call these things?" "Tropaeolum, sir." "But when just talking to the dons?" "I says nasturtians, sir." "Not nasturtium?" "No, sir; that’s watercress."

It was a crushingly laborious year, said Tolkien. So many things at once needing exclusive attention. There was clamour for Gawain. He was struggling to select the material for Appendices. There were planned trips to Ireland and Belgium, and then it would be term…