Tolkien Gateway

Letter 131

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Letter 131 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.


After Allen & Unwin, under pressure from Tolkien to make up their minds, had reluctantly declined to publish The Lord of the Rings together with The Silmarillion, Tolkien was confident that Milton Waldman of Collins (= William Collins, Sons and Co Ltd.) would shortly issue both books under his firm's imprint. In the spring of 1950, Waldman told Tolkien that he hoped to begin typesetting the following autumn. But there were delays, largely caused by Waldman's frequent absences in Italy and his ill-health. By the latter part of 1951 no definite arrangements for publication had yet been made, and Collins were becoming anxious about the combined length of both books. It was apparently at Waldman's suggestion that Tolkien wrote the following letter – of which the full text is some ten thousand words long – with the intention of demonstrating that The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion were interdependent and indivisible. The letter, which interested Waldman so much that he had a typed copy made (see the end of no. 137), is not dated, but was probably written late in 1951.

(This is the headnote of Letter 131 as given in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. From the letter as published in that work the part summarizing The Lord of the Rings has been omitted, that part has been published in The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion instead.)