Tolkien Gateway

Letter 340

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Letter 340
RecipientChristopher Tolkien
Date11, 13 & 15 July 1972
Subject(s)Headstone for his wife, success of his stories

Letter 340 is a letter written by J.R.R. Tolkien and published in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien.

[edit] Summary

Tolkien told his son what the inscription would be on Edith's grave: EDITH MARY TOLKIEN, 1889-1971, Lúthien. Adding the word "Lúthien" meant more to Tolkien than a multitude of words, and she had known that she was his Lúthien.

Continuing the letter on 13 July, Tolkien asked Christopher what he thought of "Lúthien" on her grave. He hoped his children would not think he had put it there out of sentimental fancy. He had never called her this name but she had been the inspiration for what became the chief part of The Silmarillion, first conceived in a woodland glade at Roos in Yorkshire in 1917 where she sang and danced. Tolkien wished to have a long talk with Christopher since it seemed possible that he would never write an ordered biography and someone close in heart should know about things that records do not record.

Continuing the letter on 15 July, Tolkien recounted a visit to the new offices and book-stores of Allen and Unwin, where he felt like minor royalty. He was startled to discover that the main business of many departments was to deal with his works. He learned that sales of The Hobbit had rocketed to hitherto unreached heights and that a large single order had come in for The Lord of the Rings. Not showing the gratified surprise expected, Tolkien was gently told that a single order of 100 copies used to be pleasing (and still was for other books) but this one was for 6,000.