Tolkien Gateway

Letter 339

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 339
RecipientThe editor of The Daily Telegraph
Date30 June 1972
Beautiful Place because Trees are Loved.jpg

Letter 339, published in The Daily Telegraph on 4 July as "Beautiful place because trees are loved", is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

The letter was a response to the leader article of 29 June, where actions by the Forestry Commission had been described as giving forests a "Tolkien gloom".[1] The leader, entitled "Forestry and Us", contained the following passage which arouse a reaction from Tolkien: "Sheepwalks where you could once ramble for miles are transformed into a kind of Tolkien gloom, where no bird sings...".

Tolkien writes in the letter that he rejects the use of his name as an adjective to "gloom", and continues to explain the motives of his forests. Lothlórien was beautiful because the trees were loved. The Old Forest was hostile due to bad memories. Fangorn Forest was old and beautiful, but under attack by a machine-loving enemy. Mirkwood, though under the dominion of a Power that hated all living things, was restored to its beauty.

Furthermore, Tolkien calls comparing the Forestry Commission to Sauron unfair, because it is capable of repentance. It might have done some stupid actions, but it does not weigh up to the damage to forests done by private citizens and minor official bodies.


  1. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (2006), The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: Chronology, p. 764