Letter to Rayner Heppenstall (1-2 December 1954)

From Tolkien Gateway

On 1-2 December 1954, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a letter to Rayner Heppenstall.[1]

  • Contents: On 22 November, Heppenstall had written to inform Tolkien that his radio play will be preceded by Gavin Bone's translation of The Battle of Maldon,[note 1] and hence The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth shouldn't need any introduction. Heppenstall had also written that they have booked an actor for the "Voice in the Dark". Tolkien now replies that Heppenstall did not mention anything about Bone's Battle of Maldon when he paid Tolkien a visit in Oxford, and that he does not believe that such a strategy would help to make the play more understandable:

...even to such readers as heard it. I do earnestly hope that it may even now be possible to include such a brief addition to the preliminary announcement as I have appended on the enclosed copy. [He thought that they had agreed that it would be best to omit the 'Voice in the Dark'. The lines he selected from the Dies Irae] make sense, are apt, and preserve the rhyme-scheme. They are either recited in speaking voice, or sung to simple tone or tune (which preserves the metre and emphasizes the rhyme) [He adds several pages of notes on stress, speaking alliteration, the pronunciation of names, etc.]

  • Archive: BBC Written Archives Centre.

See also


  1. Tolkien's colleauge and friend E.V. Gordon had edited The Battle of Maldon in 1937.