Letter to William Ready (9 June 1957)
- Subject: Tolkien apologizes for not replying to a letter from him, or to an invitation from the director of the Marquette Department of English to visit the University, pleading 'overwork, difficult domestic and academic circumstances, and the necessity of coping (or trying to cope) with a now very large mail, as well as heavy professional work and duties, without any secretary'.
- Publication: A description of and quotations from the letter appeared in The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: Chronology and quoted in The Tolkien Relation (pp. 59-60).
- Description: Two page, handwritten signed letter.
Dear Mr. Ready,
I have ill repaid the generosity of Marquette, by my discourtesy of silence, to you and the Director. Without going into long details this has been due not to lack of pleasure, (indeed excitement and delight) in the generous invitation, but to overwork, difficult domestic and academic circumstances, and the necessity of coping (or trying to cope) with a now v.[very] large mail, as well as heavy professional work and duties, without any secretary!
Professors of “humanitis" [sic] are not provided with any secretarial assistance in this institution; and I certainly cannot afford one of my own! In spite of the success of The Lord of the Rings (which has surprised me very much), our "Chancellor of the Exchequer" has walked off with most of the cash evidence of that, anyway — or will.
I have just written to the Director. To the effect that I should be very delighted to accept Marquette’s invitation; and that I shall try to arrange my affairs so as to make it possible. It depends on my success in obtaining leave of absence. I cannot hope for that until next year; but I may be able to make it possible to come sometime after about March 20, 1958. I have, however, one unsolved difficulty beyond the academic, and that is the domestic situation: it will prove difficult either to leave my wife alone, or to persuade her to accompany me. (My children all having grown up and departed, we live alone.)
I saw Mr. Be[r]tram Rota on Saturday Friday last (June 7), and handed over Hobbit material, and Farmer Giles (including two early MS's I had discovered). The other material he has inspected; but it needs, both for my own sake and yours, some inspection and ordering on my part. That requires some attention, which I hope to be able to give to it, when this term ends (at the end of this month).
I hope indeed to have the opportunity of meeting you ere very long, face to face. In the meanwhile I look forward to receiving your book of stories. (I too have found more favour outside the Church than within it. Apart from a notice in theTablet, not very good, I have been greeted with silence in this country. One of my most charming notices, however, was in the Tablet of New Zealand). My good wishes to Patrick!