Difference between revisions of "Smith of Wootton Major"

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*[http://www.johngarth.co.uk/php/SmithofWoottonMajor.php Review of the expanded edition] by [[John Garth]]
 
*[http://www.johngarth.co.uk/php/SmithofWoottonMajor.php Review of the expanded edition] by [[John Garth]]
  
 
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Revision as of 13:44, 7 June 2022

Smith of Wootton Major
Smith of Wootton Major (edited by Verlyn Flieger).jpg
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
EditorVerlyn Flieger (for the 2005 Expanded Edition)
IllustratorPauline Baynes
PublisherGeorge Allen and Unwin (UK)
Released9 November 1967 (UK)
FormatHardcover
Pages160
ISBN0007202474

Smith of Wootton Major, first published in 1967, is a short story by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Background

The book grew out of an attempt to explain the meaning of Faery by means of a brief story about a cook and his cake. This would have been part of a preface by Tolkien to George MacDonald's faerie story The Golden Key. But the story grew from there and became a tale in its own right.

The book was originally called "The Great Cake", but the title was changed to "Smith of Wootton Major" in an attempt to suggest an early work by P.G. Wodehouse.

The story was first published in the Christmas edition of Redbook magazine, New York on # 23 November 1967 but without the illustrations by Pauline Baynes that appeared in the published book.

It is not definitely connected to the Middle-earth legendarium.

It is sometimes published in an omnibus edition with "Farmer Giles of Ham", another Tolkien novella with illustrations by Pauline Baynes, although the two stories are not obviously linked.

The story

The village of Wootton Major is well-known around the countryside for its annual festivals, which are particularly famous for their culinary delights. The biggest festival of them all is the Feast of Good Children. This festival is celebrated only once every twenty-four years, and the celebrations take the form of a party to which twenty-four children of the village are invited. The high point of the party is the Great Cake, which is remarkable for its hidden magical ingredients. Whoever swallows one of these is given the rare gift of an entry into the Land of Faery.

This year the magic star hidden inside the Great Cake was eaten by a blacksmith's son. The boy did not feel any of its magical properties at once but on the morning of his tenth birthday the star fixed itself on his forehead and marked him as one intimate with the Faeryfolk. This boy grew up to be a blacksmith like his father, but in his free time he roamed into the Land of Faery. The star on his forehead protected him from the evils threatening mortals in that land, and the Folk called him Starbrow and told him about their land and its hidden beauties and dangers.

The years passed and it was now time for another Feast of Good Children. Smith had had his precious gift for most of his life now and the time had come for it to be passed on to some other child. So he gave up the star, and the mysterious new Master Cook baked it into the festive cake once more.

Funny, frightening and always fascinating, the book is in part dominated by the character of the earlier Master Cook, a shallow, sly and lazy man called Nokes. He is the foremost among the non-believers, and dismisses all things magical as mere dreams and fancies. In the end it is he who meets the King of Faery and who is told off by him for his greed and indolence.

The Extended Edition

In 2005, an extended edition of Smith of Wootton Major was published, prepared by Verlyn Flieger.[1]

In addition to editorial Notes and Commentary, the edition includes much material that was hitherto unpublished, including facsimiles of manuscripts and typescripts of previous versions, a Time Scheme, new essays (especially one dealing with the background of the story and the nature of Faerie) and notes by J.R.R. Tolkien, and a list of characters.[2]

On 26 February 2015, the extended edition was reissued by HarperCollins as a pocket hardback, with an additional gallery displaying the illustrations redrawn by Pauline Baynes for appearance in the 1980 deluxe edition of Poems and Stories.[3]

See also

External links

References

  1. "Smith of Wootton Major. 2005", TolkienBooks.net (accessed 2 March 2015)
  2. Mythus (Verlyn Flieger's website), as of 18 August 2010
  3. "New Book Releases" dated 26 February 2015, Tolkien Collector's Guide (accessed 2 March 2015)
Tales from the Perilous Realm
Farmer Giles of Ham · The Adventures of Tom Bombadil · Leaf by Niggle · Smith of Wootton Major
Roverandom (since 2008) · On Fairy-Stories (since 2008)
A J.R.R. Tolkien book guide
Books by Tolkien or based on his writings
Of Arda Authorized by
J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
(i.The Fellowship of the Ring · ii.The Two Towers · iii.The Return of the King) ·
The Road Goes Ever On · Bilbo's Last Song
Edited by Christopher Tolkien The Silmarillion · Unfinished Tales · The History of Middle-earth series
(i.The Book of Lost Tales: Part One · ii.The Book of Lost Tales: Part Two · iii.The Lays of Beleriand ·
iv.The Shaping of Middle-earth · v.The Lost Road and Other Writings · vi.The Return of the Shadow ·
vii.The Treason of Isengard · viii.The War of the Ring · ix.Sauron Defeated · x.Morgoth's Ring ·
xi.The War of the Jewels · xii.The Peoples of Middle-earth · Index) ·
The Children of Húrin · Beren and Lúthien · The Fall of Gondolin
Edited by others The Annotated Hobbit · The History of The Hobbit · The Nature of Middle-earth · The Fall of Númenor
Not of Arda Short stories
and poems
Leaf by Niggle · Farmer Giles of Ham · Smith of Wootton Major · The Adventures of Tom Bombadil ·
Letters from Father Christmas · Mr. Bliss · Roverandom ·
Tree and Leaf (compilation) · Tales from the Perilous Realm (compilation)
Fictions The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún · The Fall of Arthur · The Story of Kullervo · The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
Translations and academic works Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo · Finn and Hengest: The Fragment and the Episode ·
Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary · The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays ·
Tolkien On Fairy-stories · A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages
Other The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
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Reference book The Complete Guide to Middle-earth
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The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion · The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide
Scholarly journal containing Tolkien's writings Tolkien Studies various issues
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Linguistic journals Vinyar Tengwar issues 1-50 · Parma Eldalamberon issues 1-22
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Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien · Tolkien: Life and Legend · J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator ·
The Art of The Hobbit · The Art of The Lord of the Rings · Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth ·
Tolkien: Treasures · J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript
This list only includes the major published works, for the full bibliography of Tolkien, see here or here