Tolkien Gateway

Letter 160

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 160
RecipientRayner Unwin
Date6 March 1955
Subject(s)The Appendices of The Lord of the Rings

Letter 160 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Allen and Unwin were pressing for the remainder of the Appendices. Rayner Unwin wrote (on 2 March) that unless it arrived soon they would have to yield to intense pressure and publish the third volume without all the additional material. Tolkien said that he must accept the challenge. He hoped the map would be included as it was the most necessary item.

Tolkien wished that no appendices had been promised. He had received an appalling mass of letters from people who would not like a truncated and compressed addition, while those who only enjoyed the "heroic romance" would very properly ignore the appendices. Tolkien was feeling that the tendency to treat the whole thing as a kind of vast game was not good; certainly for him it held a fatal attraction. It was a tribute to the curious effect of the story that so many should clamour for sheer "information" or "lore", but satisfying such demands would require a book at least the size of Volume I.

The "background" matter was intricate, useless unless exact, and compression within the limits left it unsatisfactory. Writing it required concentration and leisure, and being so interlocked it could not be done piecemeal.