Tolkien Letters On His Own Hobbitness and the Creation of The Lord of the Rings at Bonhams


Tolkien discusses his hobbitness in this letter

A series of letters from J.R.R. Tolkien to a fan discussing his feelings about hobbits and the writing of The Lord of the Rings are coming to auction at Bonhams later this month.

In a four page reply to an early fan Miss F.L. Perry, Tolkien writes on June 28, 1955,  describing himself like a hobbit and discusses the laborious creation of The Lord of the Rings. "Alas, I love men so little — en masse — that my own desire is for empty countries, though being far more timid and unadventurous than my desires, I do not really face the prospect of hardship or deprivation of familiar foods (and tobacco) with anything but alarm. This sounds a fair description of a hobbit! But I cannot claim to be one, since I have no confidence at all that I should prove 'tough at/or in a pinch'."

Responding to her comment that his writing "gave the effect of ease," he says "the whole work was so laborious, and so often (at all points) rewritten: the actual sensation in process of composition, except for a few passages, was more like walking uphill in heavy boots against a strong wind with the light failing!"

Miss Perry was the first fan to send Tolkien a letter regarding The Lord of the Rings. They exchanged a number of letters  until at least 1961. The estimate for this letter is US$10,000 - US$15,000.

In an earlier letter (estimate US$8,000 - US$12,000) from November 22, 1954, Tolkien wrote to her detailing his worries about the publication of the second volume in the trilogy, The Two Towers, saying he was "anxious about one or two points: especially about the return of Gandalf; and generally: whether my friends would feel a falling off on a failure of their expectations; or feel they had had enough after the novelty wore off, and perhaps regret the decrease in hobbitry and elvishness: as the darkness increase and war and terror come out of the East." 

Two months previously on September 20, he recounted his thoughts in another letter (estimate US$8,000 - US$12,000) to her about The Fellowship of the Ring, the first volume in the series. This talks about its slightly mixed reception in reviews and goes on to describe his feelings about writing the novel. "The whole process was far more like deciphering the pages (disordered) of a history," he writes, "and of finding out what was there and did happen, than of 'invention.' Of that I had no experience — except in parts discarded as wrong."