Tolkien Gateway

Letter 174

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 174
RecipientLord Halsbury
Date10 November 1955
Subject(s)Getting The Silmarillion published

Letter 174 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Lord Halsbury had suggested to Tolkien that if Allen and Unwin were unwilling to publish The Silmarillion commercially, perhaps it could be published by subscription. Tolkien thanked Lord Halsbury for writing, for his approval and interest, and for the suggestion. However, he felt that the surprising welcome for The Lord of the Rings probably had made Halsbury's suggested procedure unnecessary. It also had justified the publishers' resolve to issue The Lord of the Rings first. Tolkien had wanted to present everything in chronological order, which would have lightened and quickened the narrative of the Third Age.

All references in The Lord of the Rings existed in the legends written before it was begun, said Tolkien, except for the "cats of Queen Berúthiel"[1] However, those legends were all high-mythology, Elvish and heroic, with no "hobbitry" at all; he feared it was not as palatable as the present mixture.

Now that the publishers wanted the previously rejected Silmarillion Tolkien planned to prepare the material for publication, as soon as he could find some time. He offered to show some of the material to Lord Halsbury as it was, keeping in mind that it was likely to be altered in detail, presentation, and certainly in style.


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Journey in the Dark"