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The Diaries of J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Diaries of J.R.R. Tolkien refers to the unpublished diaries of J.R.R. Tolkien. Humphrey Carpenter was given access to the writings and quoted several passages in his work J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, noting that Tolkien used the diaries "chiefly as a record of sorrow and distress, and when ... his gloom dissipated he ceased to keep up the diary entries".[1]


  • New Year's Day 1910: "Depressed and as much in dark as ever, [...] God help me. Feel weak and weary." [Entry in the first of Tolkien's preserved diaries][1]
  • April 1910: [After seeing Peter Pan at a Birmingham theatre]: "Indescribable but shall never forget it as long as I live. Wish E. had been with me."[1]
  • [Unknown date, referring to his school years]: "Did a lot of private lang."[1]
  • January 1922: "Eric Valentine Gordon has come [to Leeds University] and got firmly established and is my devoted friend and pal."[3]
  • 1924: [Concerning the birth of Christoper: "Now I would not go without what God has sent."[1]
  • 1926: [Carpenter notes that Tolkien wrote "his diary from 1926 to 1933" in the alphabet 'Quenyatic'/'Feanorian'][1]
  • ?1930s: [On Christopher Tolkien:] "a nervy, irritable, cross-grained, self-tormenting, cheeky person. Yet there is something intensely lovable about him, to me at any rate, from the very similarity between us"[1]
  • 1933: [On the occasion of driving his family to visit relatives in Birmingham:] "I pass over the pangs to me of passing through Hall Green - become a huge tram-ridden meaningless suburb, where I actually lost my way - and eventually down what is left of beloved lanes of childhood, and past the very gate of our cottage, now in the midst of a sea of new red-brick. The old mill still stands, and Mrs Hunt's still sticks out into the road as it turns uphill; but the crossing beyond the now fenced-in pool, where the bluebell lane ran down into the mill lane, is now a dangerous crossing alive with motors and red lights. The White Ogre's house (which the children were excited to see) is become a petrol station, and most of Short Avenue and the elms between it and the crossing have gone. How I envy those whose precious early scenery has not been exposed to such violent and peculiarly hideous change."[1]
  • ?1920s-1930s: [On C.S. Lewis]: "Friendship with Lewis compensates for much, and besides giving constant pleasure and comfort has done me much good from the contact with a man at once honest, brave, intellectual - a scholar, a poet, and a philosopher - and a lover, at least after a long pilgrimage, of Our Lord."[1]
  • August 1955: [Notes on his visit to Italy with Priscilla:] : "Venice seemed incredibly, elvishly lovely"[1]; "contrary to legend and my belief, Italians ... dislike exaggeration, superlatives, and adjectives of excessive praise. But they seem to answer to colour and poetic expression, if justified."[4]
  • Late 1963 or early 1964: [Carpenter notes that soon after C.S. Lewis's death, Tolkien "began to keep a diary, which was something he had not done for many years. In part it was an excuse for using another alphabet that he had invented; he called it his 'New English Alphabet'.]: "Life is grey and grim. I can get nothing done, between stateness and boredom (confined to quarters), and anxiety and distraction. What am I going to do? Be sucked down into residence in a hotel or old-people's home or club, without books or contacts or talk with men? God help me!"[1]
  • 1968-1971: [Carpenter notes that Tolkien kept a diary "for a brief time during [the] Bournemouth years".][1]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 Humphrey Carpenter, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography
  2. References on Amanye Tenceli (external link)
  3. Humphrey Carpenter (2000). J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography. New York: Houghton Mifflin, page 111.
  4. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (2006), The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: Reader's Guide, p. 469