Tolkien Gateway

Letter 35

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 35
RecipientC.A. Furth of Allen and Unwin
Date2 February 1939
Subject(s)Lord of the Rings, Mr. Bliss, Farmer Giles of Ham

Letter 35 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Tolkien reported that the new story, The Lord of the Rings, had reached Chapter 12 and over 300 pages of manuscript. He foresaw at least 200 more pages needed to finish it and asked when was the latest date that the completed manuscript ought to reach Allen and Unwin. He talked about various difficulties that had hampered his writing (labors and troubles stemming from the death of Professor Eric Gordon, work to clear up the New Zealand examination, and a bout of influenza). Next he talked about heavy tasks ahead. Due to financial stress he was obliged to do exams and lectures and what not. He suggested that Allen and Unwin ought to consider publishing Mr. Bliss or Farmer Giles.

Tolkien said that The Lord of the Rings was a good deal better than The Hobbit but might not prove a very fit sequel. It was a more grown up story, partly because readers had clamored for “more about the Necromancer” and he was not child’s play. Of similarities he listed more Hobbits, the reappearance of Gollum, Gandalf, Dwarves, and a Giant. So far there was no dragon but the new and very alarming Ringwraiths were a feature. He wondered if his publishers should see it as it was for if they did not want it there wouldn’t be the desperate pressure to complete it. The writing was taking a long time because he was considering every word and felt that the story had some significance. It would have been easier to work on the lighthearted plots of the Little Kingdom but he wanted to finish the longer tale. He felt that he might finish by June, but with no illustrations. A very necessary map might be all he could do.