Tolkien Gateway

Letter 28

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 28
RecipientStanley Unwin
Date4 June 1938
Subject(s)Finances, progress on The Lord of the Rings, Oxford election

Letter 28 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

On 1 June Unwin had told Tolkien that approximately 3,000 copies of the American edition of The Hobbit had been sold. In April, the book had been awarded a $250 prize by the New York Herald Tribune. Rayner Unwin had criticized the second and third chapters of The Lord of the Rings for having too much “hobbit talk”.

Tolkien thanked Unwin for the comforting news. Despite the American prize Tolkien said that he was in financial difficulties, which would be increased when he vacated his research fellowship in September. To make ends meet he might have to return to the examination treadmill (serving as an external examiner for other universities). Tolkien agreed with Rayner’s criticism (much like C.S. Lewis’s comments) although he personally liked “hobbit talk”. Tolkien listed various projects and duties which had kept him from writing and might do so for months.

In a postscript, Tolkien explained that his reply had been delayed due to the election of the Rev. Adam Fox as Professor of Poetry. Lewis and Tolkien had nominated Fox and he had won, defeating a Knight and a noble Lord, which Tolkien called “our first public victory over established privilege”.