Tolkien Gateway

Letter 157

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 157
RecipientKatherine Farrer
Date27 November 1954
Subject(s)Help for ill and troubled friend, Ents, working on Volume III

Letter 157 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Tolkien felt very mean, knowing that Katherine had been ill and troubled, and he had not communicated with her at all despite good intentions. Except for her charity he would have appeared as the type of "friend" who uses you and then departs when you break down.

He understood the financial difficulties. A real holiday should be "with more than pay". If funds could not be found he could well spare £50. Trinity College had been kind to him when he had been in a dreadful pinch in the early war years.[notes 1] He should prefer this way of being grateful by helping her and her husband "toward the sun".

Tolkien returned a "copy of Lewis"[notes 2] and a copy of Encounter containing an Auden volley. She could keep the Encounter since he got it for her. The Ents seemed to have been a success.[notes 3] As usually with himself, said Tolkien, they grew out of their name rather than the other way around. He had always felt something ought to be done about the peculiar Anglo Saxon word ent for a "giant".

He was hopeless behind with the "Appendices" to Volume III and Chris was too overwhelmed to help with maps. Nevertheless, he was at it.

[edit] Notes

  1. Katherine Farrer’s husband was Chaplain of Trinity College and it was Trinity that had reduced the education fees of Tolkien’s sons as undergraduates.
  2. Possibly Lewis's review of The Fellowship of the Ring in Time & Tide.
  3. The Two Towers had recently been published, on 11 November.