Rayner Unwin

From Tolkien Gateway
Rayner Unwin

But I have friendly personal relations with Stanley (whom all the same I do not much like) and with his second son Rayner (whom I do like very much).

Rayner Stephens Unwin CBE (23 December, 192523 November, 2000) was chairman of the George Allen & Unwin. He was the son of Sir Stanley Unwin, co-founder of the publishing firm.

Biography

Rayner was the second son of Sir Stanley Unwin after David. His second cousin was Harold "Chris" Unwin, who later would serve in R.A.F. with Christopher Tolkien and would become close friends.[1]

He reviewed J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit at age 10 and without his praise of the book it might have never been published.

Tolkien appreciated young Rayner's taste and considered him a good critic. While still planning on a sequel to The Hobbit in 1938, he wanted to send him the drafts; being uncertain about the first chapter of The Lord of the Rings, he thought Rayner's opinion would encourage him to follow the story.[2][3] Rayner didn't enjoy the next chapters as they had too much "hobbit talk".[4]

In summer 1944 Unwin was reading English at Oxford as a naval cadet.[5]

In the meantime Tolkien resented that Stanley Unwin wouldn't wait to publish his Silmarillion, and while writing The Lord of the Rings he hoped that both would be published together. He also hoped that he would reach an agreement with London publisher Collins.[6] The Unwins were concerned about the resulting size of The Lord of the Rings, while Tolkien insisted that it would not be cut, while also insisting that it belonged to the same Saga as The Silmarillion and would not be published separately.[7] Asked his opinion on these issues by his father, Rayner wrote that despite Tolkien's connecting the two works, he did not feel the lack of The Silmarillion. He proposed to have Tolkien or one of his sons edit The Lord of the Rings accordingly, incorporating parts of The Silmarillion as needed; otherwise they could just publish The Lord of the Rings and reject The Silmarillion later. Although this letter was not intended to be seen by Tolkien, Stanley sent it,[8] disappointing Tolkien, who eventually turned to Collins.[9]:p. xxx

Ultimately Tolkien wasn't able to reach an agreement with Collins either. In late 1951 Rayner wrote to Tolkien, and again the next year enquiring about Errantry and his publishing process (The Lord of the Rings remained unpublished). They exchanged letters with kind and warm words, with Tolkien humbly admitting his bad behavior and compromising[10] and Rayner expressing his interest in reading again The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion and promising to discuss the latter in a more appropriate time. This seemed to end their dispute and enabled Tolkien to revise The Lord of the Rings once more.[9]:p. xxxi

After reading the newly revised book, Rayner telegraphed his father in November 1952 saying that publication of the Rings was the work of a genius but would be risky; to which Stanley replied "If you believe it is a work of genius, then you may lose a thousand pounds".[9]:p. xxxii

While the book was being prepared for publication in the summer of 1953, Rayner discussed various details with Tolkien, such as the titles for each of the three volumes,[11] as it was eventually decided. In his own suggestions, he erroneously proposed The Lord of the Rings applying to the first volume, without an overall title for the complete work. He also ultimately chose The Return of the King for the final volume (instead of The War of the Ring), despite Tolkien thinking that it gave away the plot.[9]:p. xxxiii-xxxiv That summer he also visited Tolkien in his house (obviously 76 Sandfield Road), and the visit was so hasty that Tolkien neglected to offer him a refreshment.[12]

Rayner Unwin and Norman Davis (Tolkien's successor) planned to commemorate Tolkien's 70th birthday on January 3 1963.[13] Tolkien's and Rayner's friendship remained deep, which Tolkien compared to that of Gondor and Rohan.[14] At several points Tolkien asked Rayner to stop calling him "Professor", which gave an impression of pedantry, and call him "Ronald".[15][16]

In 1968, Rayner Unwin followed in his father's footsteps as chairman of the publishing firm; Tolkien lamented that he didn't have enough free time to spend time together any more.[17] On 28 March 1972 Tolkien received the Order of the British Empire at Buckingham Palace; Unwin honoured him with a dinner at the Garrick Club and his firm had arranged their (John's and Priscilla's) stay at Brown's Hotel in London.[16]

Rayner had a son, Merlin Unwin (May 1954) the "second Merlin" Tolkien knew, agreeing it was more appropriate a name than "Gandalf";[18] and a daughter, Camilla Unwin, who in 1969 wrote to Tolkien asking about "the purpose of life" for a school project. Tolkien wrote a long letter, which in the same time was too short for that question.[19]

He retired in 1985 and passed away in 2000.

Bibliography, selected

Books

Articles

See also

External links

References

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 98, (undated, written ca. 18 March 1945)
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 18, (dated 23 October 1937)
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 21, (dated 1 February 1938)
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 28, (dated 4 June 1938)
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 74, (dated 29 June 1944)
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 123, (dated 5 February 1950)
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 124, (dated 24 February 1950)
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 127, (dated 14 April 1950)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion
  10. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 133, (dated 22 June 1952), p. 163
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 136, (dated 24 March 1953), Letter 139
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 140, (dated 17 August 1953)
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 243, (dated 19 December 1962)
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 296, (dated 21 July 1967)
  15. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 281, (dated 15 December 1965)
  16. 16.0 16.1 J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 334, (dated 30 March 1972)
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 326, (dated 24 July 1971)
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 145, (dated 13 May 1954)
  19. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 310, (dated 20 May 1969)