Letter to Jonathan Hepworth

From Tolkien Gateway

On 18 December 1963, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a letter to Jonathan Hepworth and his father.[1]

  • Publication: None.
  • Notes: Contains a previously unknown phrase in Quenya: nai lye hiruva airea amanar!, translated by Tolkien as "may thee find a blessed Amanar", referring to "the Yule and the beginning of the Sun's return" and representing an "ancient Elvish" equivalent to "merry Christmas".[2]
  • Description: Autograph letter signed by J.R.R. Tolkien. In English and Elvish. 2 pages, 87 x 112mm, notecard and half page, 175 x 136mm.[1]

From the auction[1]

‘I have one criticism and that is that you show the Three Rings inside the unbroken One Ring’: Tolkien discusses his cover art illustrations for the Lord of the Rings trilogy with a young fan, adding a Yuletide greeting in Elvish. Tolkien thanks Jonathan for his folding card, ‘especially for the (horrible) view of Mordor and the destruction of Orodruin’, though he does note that the Three Rings should not be shown appearing within the One Ring. ‘I drew “jackets”, a separate one for each volume, but they proved too expensive, and what was used was a (defective) version of the first’, the design for which Tolkien goes on to describe. Having read Jonathan’s message in Runes, he replies with one of his own, wishing his young correspondent a merry Christmas in ancient Elvish, English (‘May thee find a blessed Amanar’) and in Runes.[note 1] Tolkien adds a covering letter to Jonathan’s father, thanking him for his kind words and for Jonathan’s card: ‘I see that he has been studying with effect the rather difficult Runes. How about the Elvish script?’.

Tolkien originally designed three individual dust-jackets for The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King; the illustration for the first of these, which showed the One Ring threatened by three hostile rings, was later adapted as the cover artwork for all three titles. As he complains here, the eventual design showed only one of the three hostile rings.


  1. Actually tengwar, not runes (Cirth).