Letters from Father Christmas
|Letters from Father Christmas|
|Publisher||George Allen and Unwin (UK)|
Houghton Mifflin (US)
|Released||2 September 1976 (UK)|
19 October 1976 (US)
|Format||Hardcover; paperback; deluxe edition|
Letters from Father Christmas, also known as The Father Christmas Letters, are a collection of letters written and illustrated by J.R.R. Tolkien between 1920 and 1943 for his children, from Father Christmas.
The book was warmly received by critics, and it has been suggested that elements of the stories inspired parts of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.
The stories are told in the format of a series of letters, told either from the point of view of Father Christmas or his elvish secretary. They document the adventures and misadventures of Father Christmas and his helpers, including the North Polar Bear and his two sidekick cubs, Paksu and Valkotukka. The stories include descriptions of the massive fireworks that create the northern lights and how Polar Bear manages to get into trouble on more than one occasion.
The letters themselves were written over a period of over 20 years to entertain Tolkien's children each Christmas. Starting in 1920 when Tolkien's oldest son was aged three, each Christmas Tolkien would write a letter from Father Christmas about his travels and adventures. Each letter was delivered in an envelope, including North Pole stamps and postage marks as designed by Tolkien.
Prior to publication, an exhibition of Tolkien's drawings was held at the Ashmolean Museum. These included works from The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, and The Father Christmas Letters.
The first edition was published by Allen and Unwin in 2 September 1976, three years after Tolkien's death. The Houghton Mifflin edition was released later that year on 19 October.
The book was revised in 1999 and was retitled Letters from Father Christmas. In this edition all of the Father Christmas letters and artwork not appearing in the first edition were included.
The reception to the first few works of Tolkien published posthumously had been warm, which was subsequently thought to be due to the author's recent death. The response to The Father Christmas Letters was much more measured and balanced. Jessica Kemball-Cook suggested in her book Twentieth Century Children's Writers that it would become known as a classic of children's literature, while Nancy Willard for The New York Times Book Review also received the book positively, saying "Father Christmas lives. And never more merrily than in these pages." In 2002, an article in The Independent on Sunday described the work as rivalling "The Lord of the Rings for sheer imaginative joy".
Relation to the legendarium
- Father Christmas' elf-secretary Ilbereth (progenitor of Elbereth?)
- glimpses of elvish writing and the Goblin Alphabet
- "Arctic" Quenya
Kris Swank has discussed similarities between The Hobbit and the Letters from Father Christmas, noting that they share a couple of story elements and that both works "contain story elements which have common roots in Tolkien's early Lost Tales and poems".
Publication history and gallery
- George Allen and Unwin hardcover (1976), pp. 48. ISBN 0048231304
- Unwin Paperbacks paperback (1978), pp. 48. ISBN 0048231487
- Unwin Paperbacks paperback (1990)
- Collins Children's Books hardcover (1995), pp. 48. ISBN 000137463X
- HarperCollins hardcover (1999), pp. 160. ISBN 0261103857
- HarperCollins hardcover (2004), ISBN 0261103865
- HarperCollins paperback (2006), ISBN 0007205228
- HarperCollins paperback (2009), pp. 160. ISBN 0007280491
- HarperCollins hardcover (2012), pp. 192. ISBN 0007463375
- HarperCollins hardcover with slipcase (2019), pp. 208 ISBN 0008327726
- HarperCollins hardcover (2020), ISBN 0008406847
- Letters from Father Christmas Miniature Set (1994)
A three-volume set issued in a slipcase.
- HarperCollins hardcover (1994), ISBN 0261103172
- HarperCollins hardcover (1994)
- HarperCollins hardcover (1994)
- HarperCollins hardcover (1998), pp. 96. ISBN 0261103695
- Letters from Father Christmas by Baillie Tolkien
- The ‘Father Christmas’ Letters by Christina Scull
- A tabulated comparison of all known editions of the book on Tolkienguide.com
|The world of the Letters from Father Christmas|
|Main characters:||Father Christmas · North Polar Bear · Ilbereth|
|Other characters:||Mr Cave Bear · Green Brother · Grandfather Yule|
Man in the Moon · Paksu & Valkotukka · Snow Man
|Races & Peoples:||Goblins · Green elves · Red Elves · Snow-elves · Snow-men|
|Other concepts:||Arktik · Goblin Alphabet · Windbeam|