The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion

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The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion
Publication Information
AuthorWayne G. Hammond, Christina Scull
IllustratorJ.R.R. Tolkien (cover)
PublisherHarperCollins (UK)
Houghton Mifflin (US)
ReleasedDecember 2005
FormatHardcover; paperback

The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion is a scholarly book published in 2005, by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. It is an annotated reference to J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

The Reader's Companion was designed to accompany the revised one-volume 50th anniversary edition of The Lord of the Rings. It is available in both hardcover and paperback.

The book contains many hard-to-find or previously unpublished material by Tolkien, among them is a significant text "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings", (previously known as "Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings", first published in A Tolkien Compass) in which Tolkien explained the source or meaning of many of the names in the book, with a view to aiding translators in rendering his work into foreign languages.


Hammond and Scull proceed chapter-by-chapter from the original foreword through to the end of The Lord of the Rings. Appendices, examining the evolution of the text, changes, inconsistencies, and errors, often using comments from Tolkien's own notes and letters. Other sections cover the numerous maps of Middle-earth, chronologies of the story and its writing, and notes on the book and jacket design of the first editions of 1954–1955.

  • Preface
  • A Brief History of The Lord of the Rings
    (the development and publication history of the book)
  • Chronologies, Calendars, and Moons
    (the time-scheme used by Tolkien to keep track of events)
  • Preliminaries
    (the title-page and dust-jacket design of the first edition The Lord of the Rings)
  • The Maps of The Lord of the Rings
    (details on the maps)
  • Foreword to the Second Edition
    (notes to Tolkien's Foreword to the second edition The Lord of the Rings)
  • The Reader's Companion
    • Prologue
    • The Fellowship of the Ring
    • The Two Towers
    • The Return of the King
    • Appendices
  • Extracts from a Letter by J.R.R. Tolkien to Milton Waldman, ?late 1951
    (Tolkien giving an account of the structure of the book)
  • Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkien
    (Tolkien's notes explaining how the names in the book should be translated)
  • Changes to the Editions of 2004-5
    (textual changes made in the 50th anniversary edition The Lord of the Rings)
  • Index

Rare or new writings

Cover art

The art on the cover of this book was drawn by Tolkien in 1954 for an experimental dust-jacket for The Fellowship of the Ring. It shows a ribbon running behind the central Ring of Sauron, around which is written in Tengwar the Ring inscription in the Black Speech. The runic letters on the ribbon read, from the Ring Verse, 'In the land of shadows where the Mordor lie', shadows and Mordor inverted in error. Above this, in symbolic opposition to the One Ring, is Narya, the Ring of Fire worn by Gandalf. The complete design of the experimental dust-jacket is reproduced in J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator, fig. 176.

See also Original dust-jacket designs


The book won the 2006 Mythopoeic Scholarship Award in Inklings Studies.

David Bratman, reviewing the work for Tolkien Studies, described it as "simply ... an Annotated Lord of the Rings that for reasons of space omits the text of the work being discussed", by contrast with Douglas A. Anderson's The Annotated Hobbit. He notes that the omission makes keying the notes to the text difficult: page numbers are given for the three-volume Allen and Unwin 1954-1955 edition, and the HarperCollins/Houghton Mifflin one-volume 2004 edition. Since many readers have neither of those, it also provides the first words of every cited paragraph, which in his view is at least workable. As an annotated edition, it succeeds "admirably", Bratman writes, in documenting many words and phrases "worthy of specific relevant commentary", and in providing a scholar capable of doing such a task justice. He notes that at 900 pages "of small type" it is similar in length to the text, while the comments range from brief glosses to "a five-page essay" on the Elf-lady Galadriel, which he calls "by itself a major essay on the subject".[1]

Publication history and gallery

2005 first edition hardcover
2005 first edition hardcover  
2005 first edition paperback
2005 first edition paperback  
2008 first revised edition
2008 first revised edition  
2014 second revised edition
2014 second revised edition  

See also

External links


A J.R.R. Tolkien book guide
Books by or mainly by Tolkien
On Arda Authored 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 Adventures of Tom Bombadil · 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 on Arda Short stories
and others
Leaf by Niggle · Farmer Giles of Ham · Smith of Wootton Major · Letters from Father Christmas ·
Mr. Bliss · Roverandom · Tree and Leaf (compilation) · Tales from the Perilous Realm (compilation)
Fictional works 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 · The Old English Exodus · Finn and Hengest ·
The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays · Beowulf and the Critics · Tolkien On Fairy-stories ·
Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary · A Secret Vice · The Battle of Maldon
Letters & poems The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien · The Collected Poems of J.R.R. Tolkien
academic works
A Middle English Vocabulary · Sir Gawain and the Green Knight · Ancrene Wisse
Books by other authors
Books on Arda The Complete Guide to Middle-earth · The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion ·
The Maps of Middle-earth
Tolkien biographies J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography · The Inklings · Tolkien and the Great War
Scholarly books The Road to Middle-earth · The Keys of Middle-earth · The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide ·
The Ring of Words · A Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien · Tolkien's Lost Chaucer · Tolkien's Library · Tolkien on Chaucer, 1913-1959
Scholarly journals Tolkien Studies · (The Chronology)
Other works by Tolkien
Linguistic journals Vinyar Tengwar various issues · Parma Eldalamberon issue 11-22
Collections of artwork
and manuscripts
Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien · J.R.R. 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 is only a selection, for a fuller bibliography of Tolkien see here or here. See also a timeline and an index.