The Cottage of Lost Play

From Tolkien Gateway
This article is about a chapter. For the location, see Cottage of Lost Play.
The Book of Lost Tales Part One chapters
  1. The Cottage of Lost Play
  2. The Music of the Ainur
  3. The Coming of the Valar
  4. The Chaining of Melko
  5. The Coming of the Elves
  6. The Theft of Melko
  7. The Flight of the Noldoli
  8. The Tale of the Sun and Moon
  9. The Hiding of Valinor
  10. Gilfanon's Tale

The Cottage of Lost Play is the first chapter of The Book of Lost Tales Part One.


We are introduced to Eriol the mariner, described as a "man of great curiosity" who has journeyed to the Lonely Island, Tol Eressëa from the Great Lands.

Whilst travelling through the centre of the island, he reaches the region later named as Alalminórë. Eriol decides it is time to seek lodging just as the sun has begun to set and the first stars appear in the sky. At the summit of a hill he turns down a winding lane and on the western slope he spots a tiny dwelling, this is the Cottage of Lost Play.

There he meets Lindo and Vairë, who built the cottage long years ago, and now care for the many lost children of men that have remain in Kôr with the Eldar for ever. From them Eriol learns of the foundation of Kortirion and some small parts of the history of the Eldar.

Many great events are mentioned here but not explained in detail; the Faring Forth, the Exiles of Kôr, the Valar and Valinor. The story ends with Vairë suggesting that Eriol may be a descendant of one that had "found the rocks of Eldamar in those old days".


The story is recorded in a High School Exercise Book labelled The Cottage of Lost Play, which intoduceth [the] Book of Lost Tales and was written out by Edith Tolkien, being a fair copy of the original pencil manuscript likely written in the winter of 1916-17.

Eriol is described as a "Son of Eärendel" but this is not to say that he is a descendant of Eärendel; if a beam from the star of Eärendel falls on a new-born child he is considered a “child of Eärendel“ and becomes a restless wanderer.

Alongside this notebook is a small pocket-book labelled as Story of Eriol’s life which amongst other things explains his genealogy. He traces his descent from the god Woden. At the time of visiting Tol Eressëa has two sons, named Hengest and Horsa, they are from his first wife Cwén who had died of unknown cause shortly before Eriol’s journey to find the Lonely Island.

Eriol is said to have come from "the lands East of the North Sea" which certainly refers to an area of the Danish peninsula according to Christopher Tolkien. It also indicates that Eriol appears to belong to a period preceding the Anglo-Saxon invasion of Britain.


The four poems published at the end of this chapter are gradual revisions of the same work over a period of almost half a century.