In a thrilling discovery ahead of Tolkien Reading Day on March 25, a volunteer at The National Archives in Kew has unearthed two handwritten letters written by JRR Tolkien himself.

Throughout his life, JRR Tolkien wrote several books, including the famous fantasy novel series “The Lord of the Rings,” as well as “The Hobbit,” “The Silmarillion,” and numerous other works. He was a renowned writer and philologist, and his writing was largely focused on the creation of fictional worlds, complete with their own languages, cultures, and mythologies. His books continue to be widely read and have had a significant impact on the fantasy genre as a whole.

JRR Tolkien passed away on September 2, 1973, at the age of 81. He died in Bournemouth, England, from complications of a bleeding ulcer. After his death, he was buried in Wolvercote Cemetery in Oxford, England, alongside his wife, Edith Tolkien. This recent discovery marks the first time these previously unrecorded letters have been found, almost half a century after the passing of the beloved author.

JRR Tolkien's letter

JRR Tolkien’s letter

The letters date back to 1945, shortly after Tolkien’s appointment as Professor of English Language and Literature at Merton College, Oxford. They were written as part of an exchange with the British Council regarding funding for his research into early English languages, specifically concerning his collaboration with Simonne d’Ardenne, one of his former students who shared his academic interest in historical languages.

Sarah Castagnetti, Visual Collections Team Manager at The National Archives, expressed excitement at the discovery, noting that it offers a fascinating new glimpse into Tolkien’s life and work.

The letters will now be added to the archives alongside previously catalogued correspondence from Tolkien. This discovery serves as a powerful reminder of the enduring significance of archives and their ability to offer a window into the past.

Image Source:

  • JRR Tolkien’s letter: The National Archives
  • Tolkin2: mail online
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