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Letter 70

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The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 70
RecipientChristopher Tolkien
DateMay 21, 1944
Subject(s)Hard work nearing the climax of The Lord of the Rings

Letter 70 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.


Tolkien had had the advantage of a bitterly cold week in which to write, but had struck a sticky patch. Everything sketched or written before was of little use, but with great labour he had written all the matter up to Frodo’s capture in the high pass to Mordor. Now he said he had to bring the other folk up to the final crash. He asked if Shelob was a good name for a monstrous spider. It was just "she+lob" (= spider) but was noisome written as one.

Continuing the letter on 22 May, Tolkien reported another wretched cold day. He had worked very hard on his chapter, which was exhausting as the climax approached. With many minor problems of plot and mechanism he had written, torn up, and rewritten many times. His reward was to hear both C.S. Lewis and Charles Williams state that the latest chapters were the best so far. Gollum continued to develop most intriguingly.