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  • Unpublished Tolkien LOTR letter may see $13,000 with Bonhams
  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • letterLOTRTolkienUnpublished

Unpublished Tolkien LOTR letter may see $13,000 with Bonhams

Bonhams will offer an unpublished letter from JRR Tolkien that reveals his difficulties completing his masterpiece, The Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien signed letter Lord of the Rings
Tolkien's own handwriting resembles the elvish script that he created in Lord of the Rings



Set to sell on March 19 in London, the letter was written by the author to his publisher Rayner Unwin in 1955. Signed three times with his initials, it is estimated at £6,000-8,000 ($9,858-13,144).

In 2013, a set of first editions of The Lord of the Rings, each signed by Tolkien, sold for £24,000 ($37,995).

Prior to writing the letter to Unwin, Tolkien had shown the celebrated poet WH Auden galley proofs of his appendices to Return of the King, the final book in the The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

Auden was a great admirer of Tolkien's work, but was uncertain about the inclusion of The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen, which was described as "unnecessary & perfunctory". Yet Tolkien writes to Unwin: "I still find it poignant: an allegory of naked hope. I hope you do..."

The letter is long and complex, detailing many of the finer points of the monumental work. It also references Tolkien's most illustrious admirers, with the author saying he has received fan letters from the vice chancellor of Cambridge University, as well as Sir Peter Medawar.

"...Professor Medawar the physiologist is bullying me - but he says he's afraid there is going to be a 'happy ending'. Would you call it a happy ending?"

Rayner Unwin was the 10-year-old who famously wrote the reader's report that persuaded his father Sir Stanley Unwin to publish The Hobbit in 1937. Now an adult employed by his father, he also had to persuade Sir Stanley to publish The Lord of the Rings, confessing that it might cost them as much as £1,000.

To this, Sir Stanley replied, "If you think this to be a work of genius, then you may lose a thousand pounds".

The letter will be sold at part of Bonhams' Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs auction, which will also feature a memo from Winston Churchill on the Tonypandy Riots.

RR Auction is currently offering a JRR Tolkien signed letter written to a fan, which goes into huge detail on the elvish languages and the etymology of some of the names in his books.

Paul Fraser Collectibles has a great selection of letters and books from some of history's best-known authors for sale.


  • Post author
    Paul Fraser
  • letterLOTRTolkienUnpublished