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Letter 240

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The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 240
RecipientPauline Gasch
DateAugust 1, 1962
Subject(s)Tom Bombadil

Letter 240 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.


Pauline Gasch was illustrating The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, and was given both a typescript and a galley-proof of the poems. However, the former mentioned Tom Bombadil wearing a "peacock's feather" on his hat, and the latter had a "swan-wing feather". Tolkien tells her that the peacock was a leftover from an old draft, and would have to go. Bombadil had a swan-feather at first, and later in the narrative a blue kingfisher feather.

Next follows a short treatise about the etymology of "kingfisher", and its place as the rival of the swans as most prized property of a King; in this case Bombadil. Tolkien tells her not to be bothered too much, as most detail is just a "private pleasure". Tolkien looks forward to Mrs. Gasch' interpretation.