Chronology of Tolkien's writings

From Tolkien Gateway
"We have a long way to go, and there is time ahead for thought." — Treebeard
This article or section is in the early stages of construction and should not be viewed as complete, or even close to being finished.

A reference tool[edit | edit source]

The goal of this page is to present the chronology of Tolkien's writings ordered by thematics so that readers can understand the relation between the texts, their "freshness", their shared chronology. In a way, it is an expansion on The Texts and Their Relations.

It is a useful tool when debating about Canon - whether your preference is Height Intent or Final Intent or any others. The source of information is mainly the textual indications given by Christopher Tolkien in the History of Middle-Earth Series.

Tolkien writings timeline being very long, this chronology is broken in 3 production phases.

Early Years - the Mythology period[edit | edit source]

Date Hobbit Lord of the Rings Ainulindalë Valaquenta Quenta Silmarillion Húrin & Turin Beren & Lúthien Tuor & Gondolin Annals of Valinor Annals of Beleriand Númenor
1917 Turambar and the Foalókë Tale of Tinúviel The Fall of Gondolin
1918 The Music of the Ainur
1919 The Chaining of Melko The Coming of the Elves and the Making of Kôr’ and ‘The Theft of Melko and the Darkening of Valinor The Lay of the Children of Húrin
1920 The Lay of the Fall of Gondolin
1925 The Flight of the Noldoli from Valinor The Lay of Leithian The Lay of Eärendel
1926 Sketch of the Mythology
1928 The Fall of Númenor

Middle years - The publication phase[edit | edit source]

This period is the most productive in Tolkien's life. Following the success of the Hobbit, he hoped to publish the Silmarillion as a consistent account of the Elder Day. The texts produced in the later phase have a great amount of consistency with the published Lord of The Rings.

Date Hobbit Lord of the Rings Ainulindalë Valaquenta Quenta Silmarillion Húrin & Turin Beren & Lúthien Tuor & Gondolin Annals of Valinor Annals of Beleriand Númenor
1930 Quenta Noldorinwa The Earliest Annals of Valinor - AV1 The Earliest Annals of Beleriand - AB1
1931 Beg. of 1st Edition writing of The Hobbit
1935 The Hobbit - end of writing
1936 Ainulindalë B Kortirion among the Trees Later Annals of Valinor - AV2 Later Annals of Beleriand - AB2 Fall of Númenor 1
1937 The Hobbit 1st ed. publication Ambarkanta Quenta Silmarillion Fall of Númenor 2
1938 LoTR - 1st Edition beg. of writing
1946 The Drowning of Anadûnê 1
1947 Ainulindalë C* The Drowning of Anadûnê 2
1948 Ainulindalë C Narn i Chîn Húrin The Drowning of Anadûnê 3
1949 Ainulindalë D Lay of Leithian Revised
1950 LoTR - 1st Edition end of writing Annals of Aman Grey Annals
1951 Later Quenta Silmarillion - LQ1 Of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin
1956 Akallabêth A
1957 Húrin & Morwen Akkalabeth B
1958 Later Quenta Silmarillion - LQ2 Annals of Aman Typescript Akkalabeth C
1960 Aldarion and Erendis
1961 Valaquenta A Description of the Isle of Númenor’ and ‘The Line of Elros: Kings of Númenor

Later years - exploratory writings[edit | edit source]

In this period of this life, Tolkien had abandoned any hope of finishing the Silmarillion and getting it published. Most of his works fall in either of 4 categories:

  1. Philological and philosophical writings
  2. Languages work
  3. Exploring inconsistencies and way to resolve them
  4. Expansion stories for main characters / key historical events
Date Language Maps Tale of the years Names Genealogies People Heroes Places Other
1955 Athrabeth
1957 Finwë & Miriel
1958 Concerning Dwarves, Of the Ents
1959 ‘The Converse of Manwë and Eru’, ‘Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth’ and the ‘Reincarnation of Elves’.
1960 Quendi and Eldar’, ‘Cuivienyarna’, ‘Orcs’, ‘The Elessar Concerning Galadriel and Celeborn
1963 The Tale of Adanel
1967 The Shibboleth of Fëanor
1968 The New Shadow’ and Tar-Elmar
1969 The Disaster of the Gladden Fields’, ‘Cirion and Eorl’ and ‘Part of the Legend of Amroth and Nimrodel The Rivers and Beacon-hills of Gondor
1970 A Map of Middle-earth by Pauline Baynes Maeglin
1972 ‘Glorfindel’ and ‘Círdan’
1973 Galadriel & Celeborn