David Day

From Tolkien Gateway
David Day
Biographical information
Born14 October 1947[1]
EducationUniversity of Victoria[1]

David Day is a prolific Canadian author who has written several Tolkien-related books. Primarily known for his reference books, starting with A Tolkien Bestiary in 1978, Day's books have sold over 3 million copies, and have been published in over 120 different editions in over 20 languages.[2]

Day's books have been repeatedly criticized by the Tolkien community for their inaccuracy. Day rejects the charge of inaccuracy, though he accepts that his reference books have been repackaged and reprinted by publishers under different titles.[3]

Reputation within the academic Tolkien Community[edit | edit source]

The Tolkien Society does not recommend any of Day's books in their suggested readings (preferring Robert Foster's The Complete Guide to Middle-earth instead)[4] whilst David Bratman, editor of the Tolkien Studies journal, makes the same suggestion that David Day's books are "Not Recommended".[5] Troels Forchammer noted in his blog that "Day is infamous in Tolkien circles for his creative re-interpretation of Tolkien's work"[6] whilst Michael Martinez made the sterner observation that "In Tolkien scholarship the worst insult one could deliver at any point for many years was equivalent to 'That sounds like something David Day wrote'."[7]

Tolkien Meta-FAQ author Steuard Jensen said about A Tolkien Bestiary that "it is not wise to rely on this book for information on Tolkien's vision of Middle-earth" and that "it is important to be aware that a considerable number of other details in those vivid descriptions were invented by Day himself with little or no justification in the texts, and that these extrapolations are not distinguished from the justified facts in any way".[8] In particular, A Tolkien Bestiary (and its derivative Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopedia) has been specifically criticised for its entries on Beren, Giants, long-worms, Sauron, Telcontari.[8]

Most of the criticism have been to the encyclopedia style books. More recently The Battles of Tolkien has been described saying:

"One of the surprises to me is that this book contains genuinely new content; this isn’t just a rehashing of previous books. And the factual pieces of information on the battles and the characters are accurate: it was a pleasant surprise to me to find none of the painfully obvious errors that were common throughout the previous two books. Similarly, the chronologies – save for one inconsistency on the War of Wrath – were also accurate."
Gunner, Shaun. "Review: The Battles of Tolkien" in Amon Hen 267

Having acknowledged that the book contains fewer factual errors than earlier books by Day, the reviewer describes it as "not a work of reference, but an attempt at analysis" and describing the analysis as "a bunch of clichéd theories that failed to stretch beyond a child pointing at things and exclaiming 'This is like that!'."

A Composite Study Of The Lands Of Arda Throughout The Ages[edit | edit source]

A Tolkien Bestiary (1979) and later works includes a map that intentionally gives an overall view of all the lands over all the ages in a composite image. It include the Lamps, the Trees Of The Valar, Númenor, Beleriand, and the Undying Lands which never existed all at the same time. The map is criticized for differences from Tolkien's own maps such as "Map V" from the Ambarkanta maps.[9]

Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopedia has Geography section called "The Evolution of Arda" that has 8 maps that does show the evolution of the world map throughout the ages.

The Tolkien community generally steers readers away from the Composite map and instead towards The Atlas of Middle-earth by Karen Wynn Fonstad (1981, revised 1991).

Oxonmoot controversy[edit | edit source]

David Day attended Oxonmoot 2004 yet failed to pay for his attendance. In the minutes of The Tolkien Society committee meeting held on 30th October 2004 it states that:

Chris [Chris Crawshaw, Chairman] has also written to David Day to ask him to pay his registration for Oxonmoot. She was instructed by the meeting to keep badgering him about this, since he seems to feel his 'celebrity' status exempts him from such mundane details
Amon Hen 191, p. 19

Four months later in the minutes of a committee meeting held on the 26th February 2005 it is recorded:

Since David Day has still not paid his registration for Oxonmoot, it was agreed that he should be blacklisted for future events.
Amon Hen 193, p. 17

There are no other recorded incidents of The Tolkien Society blacklisting individuals from attending their events.

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Encyclopedia Style Art Books Starting With A Tolkien Bestiary
    • 1979: A Tolkien Bestiary (also published as Guide to Tolkien's World: A Bestiary, Characters from Tolkien, Creatures From Tolkien)
    • 1992: Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopedia (updated and expanded A Tolkien Bestiary with new art)
    • 1993: A to Z of Tolkien (also published as The Tolkien Companion, A Guide to Tolkien, Tolkien: A Dictionary, A Dictionary of Tolkien) (Book #1 Tolkien Illustrated Guides)
    • 2002: The World of Tolkien (Features new art)
    • 2019: An Encyclopedia of Tolkien (derived from A Tolkien Bestiary) (Leather-bound Classics)
    • 2019: The Illustrated World of Tolkien (derived from A Tolkien Bestiary, Tolkien: The Illustrated Encyclopedia, The World of Tolkien, and books #1-6 of Tolkien Illustrated Guides)
    • 2019: A Dictionary Of Sources of Tolkien (derived from earlier works)
  • 1994: Tolkien's Ring
  • 1997: The Hobbit Companion
  • 2001: The Hobbit Calendar 2002
  • 2002: The Hobbit Calendar 2003
  • 2015: An Atlas of Tolkien (Book #2 Tolkien Illustrated Guides)
  • 2016: The Battles of Tolkien (Book #3 Tolkien Illustrated Guides)
  • 2017: The Heroes of Tolkien (Book #4 Tolkien Illustrated Guides)
  • 2018: The Dark Powers of Tolkien (Book #5 Tolkien Illustrated Guides)
  • 2020: The Hobbits Of Tolkien (Book #6 Tolkien Illustrated Guides)
  • 2020: The World Of Tolkien (Boxed Set of books #1-6 Tolkien Illustrated Guides)
  • 2020: The Rings Legends Of Tolkien (based on Tolkien's Ring) (Book #7 Tolkien Illustrated Guides)

External links[edit | edit source]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "David Day (Author of A Tolkien Bestiary)", goodreads (accessed 21 January 2015)
  2. "DAY, David", ABC Bookworld (accessed 21 January 2015)
  3. "Books to read", David Day's site (accessed 5 May 2021)
  4. "Books about Tolkien", The Tolkien Society (accessed 21 January 2015)
  5. "Recommended books on Tolkien", David Bratman's Home Page (accessed 21 January 2015)
  6. "Tolkien Transactions XXXIII" dated 1 February 2013, Parma-kenta (accessed 21 January 2015)
  7. "Why Wikipedia Content Cannot Be Trusted" dated 7 March 2007, Tolkien Studies Blog (accessed 21 January 2015)
  8. 8.0 8.1 "Notes on David Day's Tolkien Books", Tolkien Meta-FAQ (accessed 21 January 2015)
  9. Stentor Danielson, "Extending Arda: Mapping beyond the Lord of the Rings and Silmarillion", Journal of Tolkien Research (accessed 21 January 2015)