Handwritten letter by J.R.R.Tolkien

The handwritten letter by J.R.R.Tolkien to be offered in Heritage Auctions’ Rare Books Signature Auction. Image credit:  Heritage Auctions, HA.com.

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It is dated 12 April 1956 and was written shortly after the publication of the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Described by James Gannon, Heritage’s director of rare books as “steeped in his academic scholarship”, the letter consists of a reply to a fan which discusses some of Tolkien’s inspirations for the Lord of the Rings as well as a history of the name ‘Tolkien’. The letter reads:

"Dear Mr. Earle, Thank you for your kind and appreciative letter. I hope to retain your approbation to the end of the work. It's not consciously based on anything but a complete 'invention,' like the supposed Elvish languages. But there is no 'invention' in the void, and naturally in digested form I am indebted to the myths and legends of literature. But not specially to those of England and Wales (for Gaelic of Ireland and Scotland I have no great liking). Of ancient A. S. English or Welsh 'myths' alas nothing remains, and of ancient legends very little. My name's German in origin, though in this anglicized form it has been in England some 200 years (and has emigrated to America); but it remains very unusual. It's a form of the German word toll-kühn and should properly be spelt Tol(l)kichn. The correct pronunciation is therefore Tolkeen, with the accent on the 'o' (as in doll). Yours sincerely, J. R. R. Tolkien."

As well as the letter, the sale will also feature a first edition, first impression set of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy.