Tolkien Gateway

Tolkien Gateway:Canon policy

Revision as of 10:00, 9 August 2012 by Morgan (Talk | contribs)

Canon is a concept which cannot be uniformly applied to J.R.R. Tolkien's legendarium. As Wayne G. Hammond put it,

[...] there are Tolkien's latest thoughts, his best thoughts, and his published thoughts and these are not necessarily the same.
Wayne G. Hammond in Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth[1]

A consistent Tolkien "canon" could only exist if a group or an individual decided what should be considered "canon" and what should not. For Tolkien Gateway editors to make such judgements would be for them to portray their own views on such matters, thus violating the principles of an encylopedia. The search of objectivity can only reveal that Tolkien's thoughts on particular concepts changed over the course time for various reasons.

There are many famous inconsistencies in Tolkien's personal writings. For instance, at different points while working on his legendarium, Tolkien considered two very different accounts of the origins of Celeborn. In one version he was a kinsman of Thingol living in Doriath, where he met Galadriel.[2] In another writing Celeborn was a Teler of Alqualondë, where he met Galadriel.[3] Since neither of those versions was established in his published works during Tolkien's lifetime, Tolkien Gateway should favour neither version of events and both should be presented and explained to the reader.

It should be noted that the Tolkien Gateway's old policy was to attempt to reconcile inconsistencies in order to produce a consistent canon.[4] The content of many articles will still reflect this old policy whilst they await a rewrite.


A new canon policy was agreed at Tolkien Gateway's July 2012 meeting.

  • Tolkien Gateway editors should not judge what is canon and what is not.
  • Where there are inconsistencies, this should be explained in the content of the article. This discussion should be placed in a "canonicity" section.
  • Only concepts not created by Tolkien (i.e. those made up in adaptations) should be considered "non-canon". Template:Adaptation should be applied to these articles.


  1. Wayne G. Hammond, "A Continuing and Evolving Creation", in Tolkien's Legendarium, ed. by Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter (New York: Greenwood Press, 2000)
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, "Quenta Silmarillion: Of the Return of the Noldor"; J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn"
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn", "Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn"
  4. "Tolkien Gateway:Canon" dated 4 November 2011, Tolkien Gateway (accessed 8 August 2012)