Tolkien Gateway

Letter 182

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 182
RecipientAnne Barrett, Houghton Mifflin Co.
DateNot dated, 1956
Subject(s)Wanting to work on The Silmarillion but constrained by duties

Letter 182 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Tolkien vowed to publish parts of his great history, if he was allowed. Because of the surprising success of The Lord of the Rings he expected the prior rejection to be reconsidered, even though without Hobbits it would lack the same appeal. Unfortunately, he was not allowed to get at it. Without a secretary he was submerged by Lord of the Rings business and professional business. Piled-on work made the last years of office intolerable, a way of making professors "go quietly".

The Lord of the Rings had also put him in the pincers, said Tolkien. His philological colleagues were shocked at his fall into "trivial literature" and he claimed the cry was "now we know how you have been wasting your time for 20 years". This created pressure to produce things more professional that were long overdue. Tolkien said he liked both but had only one man's time.

He mentioned that with the retirements of a few others he was left the senior professor of his ancient institution. He had occupied the chair for 31 years and the only ones who seemed to notice were those who wanted it. They would discover, he said, that the padded seat was actually stuffed with thistle.