Tolkien Gateway

Letter 139

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 139
RecipientRayner Unwin
Date8 August 1953
Subject(s)The Lord of the Rings sub-titles, drawings, maps

Letter 139 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Tolkien was told that it was desirable to have separate titles for each of the three volumes of The Lord of the Rings, referring to Tolkien's 24 March letter (see Letter 136) in which he had made suggestions for such sub-titles. Tolkien had no copy of his earlier letter and asked if Allen and Unwin could send him one. He opposed having separate titles for each volume, wanting The Lord of the Rings as the over-all title, although that was least suitable for the first volume. His suggestions were: "I. The Return of the Shadow", "II. The Shadow Lengthens", and "III. The Return of the King", but with the over-all title to prevent confusion. Tolkien was not wedded to any suggested sub-title and wished they could be avoided. The division of two "books" per volume was purely a convenience due to length.

What position did the publishers have about reproducing the burned pages of the "Book of Mazarbul"? Tolkien claimed that the text was pointless without them. He also had the drawing of the secret door that he would re-draw and improve, having finished correcting the galleys. He apologized for not re-drawing the essential maps, having had no respite from drudgery, but he would turn to them at once.