Letter to Christopher Fettes
- Subject: Tolkien writes an answer to Christopher Fettes's question about why Tolkien seemed to refer to both Tom Bombadil and Treebeard as the oldest of living creatures.
- Publication: A large excerpt from the letter was first published in Amon Hen 173, later reprinted in The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion.
I think there are two answers; (i) External (ii) Internal; according to (i) Bombadil just came into my mind independently and got swept up into the growing stream of The Lord of the Rings. The original poem about him, in the curious rhythm which characterizes him, appeared in the Oxford Magazine at some time not long before the war. According to (ii), I have left him where he is and not attempted to clarify his position, first of all because I like him and he has at any rate a satisfyingly geographical home in the lands of The Lord of the Rings; but more seriously because in any world or universe devised imaginatively (or imposed simply upon the actual world) there is always some element that does not fit and opens as it were a window into some other system. You will notice that though the Ring is a serious matter and has great power for all the inhabitants of the world of The Lord of the Rings, even the best and most holy, it does not touch Tom Bombadil at all. So Bombadil is ‘fatherless’, he has no historical origin in the world described in The Lord of the Rings.”