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2003 reprint of Tolkien: A Look Behind The Lord of the Rings.

My name is TOLKIEN (not -kein)

A lot of people misspell "Tolkien" as Tolkein. This was already the case in Tolkien's time; several passages in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien show Tolkien's frustration about the matter.


The first recorded use of Tolkein stems from 1901. The Blue Book of King Edward's School in Birmingham for January of that year includes in the list of pupils: "[Name.] Tolkein … … [Initials.] J.R.R. [Class.] xi [Date of Birth.] 3.1.92 [Came.] 00/3 [=third quarter of 1900] [then Placed. in class] xi [Parent's Initials.] Mrs. [Address.] 214, Alcester Road [Business.] Independent".[1]

In 1922, Oxford bookseller Basil Blackwell in Fifty New Poems for Children: An Anthology Selected from Books Recently Published included the poem Goblin Feet, which he ascribed to a J.R.R. Tolkein. The name appears in the table of contents, above the poem and in the index.[2]

Later, the name was used, according to Tolkien, by college, bank, and lawyer's clerks,[3] and more or less all who wrote to him.[4]


The name Tolkien has often been associated with Jewry. This was in turn because the Jewry of the time had predominantly Yiddish and German names, and the Tolkien family hailed from Saxony, Germany.[3] Since these Yiddish and German names often ended in -stein, it may have been a hypercorrection.

Other notable occurences


"Goblin Feet" in Fifty New Poems for Children.
The Royal Mail "Tolkein" stamp.
The Royal Mail "Tolkein" stamp.  
The Pembroke College "Tolkein" plaque.
The Pembroke College "Tolkein" plaque.  


  1. King Edward's School Blue Book, January 1901, seen and copied in Birmingham Central Library, Local Studies & History Department, 16 August 2005
  2. Fifty New Poems for Children at Tolkien Library
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 324, (dated 4-5 June 1971)
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 347, (dated 17 December 1972)
  5. "Royal Mail", The Tolkien Shop (accessed 11 January 2011)
  6. Daniel Helen, various, "Tolkien Society Facebook group post" dated 30 November 2016, Facebook (accessed 30 November 2016)