Letter to Miss E. Byrne (1 March 1968)
- Contents: J.R.R. Tolkien reflects on his youth, admitting his disintrest in literature during his adolescence.
- Description: Typewritten letter, 1 page
- Publication: The letter was published in Attacks of Taste. A shorter excerpt was published in Sotheby's The James S. Copley Library 17 June 2010.
With famed works such as Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, Tolkien’s letter captures the reality of a teenage boy who would rather explore nature than read a novel. The letter punctuates his interest in the sciences, which later became a passion. In the 1960’s, Tolkien became an environmental activist and much of his love and concern for nature can be seen through the imaginative worlds created in his novels. Charles Alexander John’s book is a guide to identifying plants.
Dear Miss Byrne
‘Teenage’ is a long period, and there is a vast gap between one’s thirteenth birthday and one’s twentieth. I can name no book that influenced me deeply as a book. I found certain elements in books that I liked and stored away in memory. During most of this period I was not interested in ‘Literature’. In the early part of this period things I read with most pleasure were most scientific in reference, especially botany and astronomy. My most treasured volume was John’s Flowers of the Field, an account of the flora of the British Isles.