A Letter from Tolkein to What I presume was a young reader soon after publication of The Lord of the Rings
I think this letter, which we can date to 9th April 1957, is particularly inspiring and instructive. I bought it at Sotheby's in March 1998, at a stage when I had already planned the fantasy series we now know from the opening title, The Snowmelt River. It was a very long time in gestation, in part because I was persuaded against my better judgement to switch to a thriller fantasy derivative, The Sundered World, and in part because I was very busy in science and science writing. But I never stopped thinking about it - indeed my young characters demanded to be free.
Others will interpret the Tolkein letter in their own ways, but for me there are two key lessons to be learnt from it. First, there is the humility of tone and complete lack of stuffiness towards what I presume to be a youthful reader. He clearly wrote the letter himself and even addressed the envelope and, perhaps, posted it personally. He also makes clear, even at this very early stage after publication of the third book of Lord of the Rings, that he intended to write no more books about hobbits.
I thought visitors might be interested to share this with me.
Frank P Ryan