Letter to Roger Verhulst (9 March 1966)

From Tolkien Gateway

On 9 March 1966, J.R.R. Tolkien wrote a letter to Roger Verhulst.[1]

  • Contents: Tolkien replies to Mr. Verhulst at Eerdmans, with some remarks concerning his relationship with Charles Williams, but presumably declining to comment on Mary Shideler's book Charles Williams in Christian Perspective. He explains that although he owes a debt of gratitude to W.H. Auden, he does not think that Auden knows him well enough to write a book about him.[2]
  • Publication: Quotes from the letter have been provided in Tolkien and The Silmarillion. The letter is also quoted in W.H. Auden: A Legacy. A description of the letter has appeared in the catalogues Christie's Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts 28 November 2011 (lot 257) and Christie's Fine Printed Books and Manuscripts 19 June 2012.
  • Description: Three pages, 76 Sandfield Road, Oxford letterhead. Signed by J.R.R. Tolkien.

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Tolkien writes to express his opposition to the publication of a proposed book about him by W.H. Auden, and quotes his letter to Auden on the subject, "I regard such things as premature impertinences ... I cannot believe that they have a usefulness to justify the distaste and irritation given to the victim", though he concedes "I owe Mr. Auden a debt of gratitude for the generosity with which he has supported and encouraged me since the first appearance of The Lord of the Rings"; also discussing his acquaintance with the author Charles Williams, and the broader membership of the 'Inklings', concluding with a firm distinction between a proposed volume of essays on Williams and one about himself, "a living author whose much more limited work is of quite a different sort, and who is struggling to complete his work, while time is steadily running short, without the distraction of comment or analysis which cannot in the nature of the case be well-informed".[3]

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