Letter to John Kettle

From Tolkien Gateway

On 15 March 1942, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a letter to John Kettle.[1]

  • Subject: Tolkien discusses The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, the latter then a work-in-progress.
  • Description: 3 pages, 4to, 20 Northmoor Road, Oxford (embossed stamp).[2]

From the auction

thanking the recipient for his letter (“it is not often that people write to an author… it is, I must say, a very pleasant sort of letter to get…”), discussing The Hobbit in some detail, including the maps, destruction of publisher’s stock in the Blitz, deciphering of Runes, discussion of Runes on the book's dust-jacket and mentioning “the sequel, if that is ever printed in these paperless days”. Discussing future plans at greater length, Tolkien notes that “the dwarf and goblin wars belong to a little known part of the history, which I have not studied in detail yet” and then states “I have nearly finished another book… It is however very long… You remember the references to the Necromancer and his stronghold in Southern Mirkwood, and to the White Council? Well, Bilbo’s affairs there just touched on the most important of all matters… So the next book explains it, and a very dark business it is…” Tolkien then provides a list of elements of The Lord of the Rings: “You will meet the perennial Gandalf again… Bilbo and many other hobbits of Took descent, and also one Sam Gamgee; Tom Bombadil… Trotter the Ranger; Ents (very strange creatures); Elrond, Gollum, and others; and visit the Mines of Moria, the elf-lands of Lothlórien; the Riders of Rohan; the Fortress of Minas Tirith; and come to the final overthrow of the Dark Tower. Or I hope so. And supposing you want to.” Tolkien finishes with a typical reference to his academic responsibilities ("I have now myself to put aside the more interesting (and I think more important) tracts of Ancient History for Examinations... It would comfort the 'examinees' a good deal, I imagine, if they realized that the Examiners, justly, suffer at least as much in what we must suppose to be a good cause... as they do. Indeed, more, for the torture of the Examiners is more prolonged...") [2]