Essays and minor texts by J.R.R. Tolkien

From Tolkien Gateway


J.R.R. Tolkien was prolific, on many levels.

His published books are many, and there are many good catalogues of them.

His poetry is numerous, a large number of them have since been published in various places. A good, relatively complete catalogue of them will later appear as The Collected Poems of J.R.R. Tolkien.

His letters are vast, but due to their largely personal nature, and the fact that they were only a means of communication in an age when messages must take a physical form, they do not always contain deep thought. Hence, a complete catalogue of them is unneeded. Still, a good collection is already in existence, and its expansion can be expected.

His artworks are fascinating and manuscripts often bewildering. Several catalogues already offer us some good view of them, such as Maker of Middle-earth and The Art of the Manuscript.

The material of his linguistic inventions is abundant, and much remains unpublished. But our excellent, faithful periodicals Vinyar Tengwar and Parma Eldalamberon are continuing the effort to bring more of them to light.

What is left, then? Two.

The first is Tolkien's essays, reviews, and other short publications only in the length of an article. These have appeared in various periodicals or as booklets, some reprinted later others not.

The second is Tolkien's "minor texts" appearing in books not by him, namely the forewords, prefatory notes, etc.

Assuredly, there exist many, many other media that contain even littler contributions by Tolkien, such as mere notes or individual quotes. But this page does not pursue to such an extent, as it deems them too minor or inconsequential to the main purpose, hence profitless.

Essays and articles

  • 1923 —
    • "Henry Bradley, 3 Dec. 1845-23 May 1923", in Bulletin of the Modern Humanities Research Association
      - (obituary, reprinted in Tolkien Studies vol. 12)
    • "Holy Maidenhood", in The Times Literary Supplement
      - (review of Hali Meidenhad edited by F.J. Furnivall)
  • 1924 —
    • "Philology: General Works", in The Year's Work in English Studies
      - (review essay)
  • 1925 —
    • "The Devil's Coach-Horses", in The Review of English Studies
      - (essay)
    • "Some Contributions to Middle-English Lexicography", in The Review of English Studies
      - (essay)
  • 1926 —
    • "Philology: General Works", in The Year's Work in English Studies
      - (review essay)
  • 1927 —
    • "Philology: General Works", in The Year's Work in English Studies
      - (review essay)
  • 1929 —
    • "Ancrene Wisse and Hali Meiðhad", in Essays and Studies by Members of the English Association
      - (essay)
  • 1930 —
    • "The Oxford English School", in The Oxford Magazine
      - (essay)
  • 1932 —
    • "The Name 'Nodens'", in Report on the Excavation of the Prehistoric, Roman, and Post-Roman Site in Lydney Park, Gloucestershire
      - (essay, reprinted in Tolkien Studies vol. 4)
    • "Sigelwara Land", in Medium Aevum
      - (essay)
  • 1934 —
    • "Chaucer as a Philologist", in Transactions of the Philological Society
      - (essay, reprinted in Tolkien Studies vol. 5)
  • 1939 —
    • "The Reeve's Tale: Version Prepared for Recitation at the 'Summer Diversions'"
      - (versoin of Chaucer's The Reeve's Tale, printed in booklets, reprinted in Tolkien Studies vol. 5)
  • 1944 —
  • 1946 —
    • "Research v. literature", in The Sunday Times
      - (review of English literature at the close of the Middle Ages by E.K. Chambers)
  • 1948 —
    • "MS Bodley 34: A re-collation of a collation", in Studia Neophilologica
      - (essay, with S.R.T.O. d'Ardenne)

Minor texts

  • 1911 —
    • "Acta Senatus" (debate report in Latin), in King Edward's School Chronicle
    • "Debating Society Report", in King Edward's School Chronicle, in 2 issues
    • "Editorial", in King Edward's School Chronicle, in 2 issues
  • 1913 —
    • "Oxford Letter", in King Edward's School Chronicle
  • 1918 —
    • "Prefatory note", in A Spring Harvest by G.B. Smith
  • 1928 —
    • "Foreword", in A New Glossary of the Dialect of the Huddersfield District by Walter E. Haigh
  • 1932 —
    • "A Philologist on Esperanto", in British Esperantist
      - (letter, reprinted in SEVEN vol. 17)
  • 1938 —
    • "Letter to the editor", in The Observer
      - (reprinted as Letter 25)
  • 1945 —
    • "The Name Coventry", in Catholic Herald
      - (letter to the editor)
  • 1955 —
    • "Preface", in The Ancrene Riwle translated by M.B. Salu
  • 1958 —
    • "Prefatory Note", in The Old English Apollonius of Tyre edited by Peter Goolden
  • 1960 —
    • "Letter to the editor", in Triode
  • 1971 —
    • "Statement", in Attacks of Taste compiled and edited by Evelyn B. Byrne and Otto M. Penzler
  • 1972 —
    • "Beautiful Place because Trees are Loved", in Daily Telegraph
      - (letter to the editor, reprinted as Letter 339)

Further consideration

To give a description of "all the productions" of J.R.R. Tolkien in his physical life, several layers are needed to be explained.

The first is pre-Tolkien sphere. This is practically the entire world at the point when Tolkien was about to take his physical body. It contains all the contents, informations, and influences that would later be assimilated by him and be shaped into his thoughts. It also includes the reincarnating ego of Tolkien himself and all his past experiences.

The next is all the thoughts of Tolkien during his physical life. This was entirely founded upon the previous layer, plus all the experiences he had accumulated in this incarnation. At this layer they were not in any physical form, but can be perfectly accessed in the Akashic records.

The next is all of his written materials. This includes anything he had ever written down or drawn on any surface with any writing tool. Understandably, the vast majority of them were long lost or destroyed. But still, they remain available in the records.

The next is the material that has been preserved to this day. These ended up in various archives, libraries, and personal collections across the world. These exist in their original manuscript form.

The next is the first published form of some of those material. These have gone through the special care needed for publication, some by Tolkien himself others by others. Many of these are now near-century-old, and hard to find.

The next is the modern publication of some of those material. These are either previously unpublished, or reprinted from older publications. These are the "Tolkien books" that modern readers are most familiar with.

The final layer is Tolkien's legacy. These are the unneglectable influences of Tolkien's writings on the world. They inspire people to write books, to initiate all kinds of projects. They introduce new thoughts and stir up new philosophies. These influences once again merge back into the world.