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Letter 7

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 7
RecipientThe Electors of the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professorship of Anglo-Saxon, University of Oxford
Date27 June 1925

Letter 7 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

This is Tolkien's formal letter of application to the post of Rawlinson and Bosworth Professorship of Anglo-Saxon, recently resigned by W. A. Craigie. He expresses his desire to return to the Oxford English School and gives an account of his time there as an undergraduate, tutor and assistant working on the Oxford English Dictionary. He then describes his five years as Reader in English Language at the University of Leeds, paying particular attention to the role he played in developing the linguistic side of the School of English Studies which had previously been entirely devoted to literary studies. He lists the linguistic courses he has taught on: "Old English heroic verse, the history of English, various Old English and Middle English texts, Old and Middle English philology, introductory Germanic philology, Gothic, Old Icelandic [...], and Medieval Welsh". He describes his success in encouraging the study of philology and especially Old Icelandic amongst his students, some of whom have set up a Viking Club. Finally he explains how this focus on teaching has adversely affected his research output, but nonetheless attaches a note of what he has published.

Though at thirty-three Tolkien was fairly young for an Oxford Professorship the application was successful. He held the Chair until 1945 when he took up the post of Merton Professor of English Language and Literature.