The House of the Wolfings

From Tolkien Gateway
A Tale of the House of the Wolfings and All the Kindreds of the Mark
The House of the Wolfings.jpg
AuthorWilliam Morris
PublisherReeves & Turner (1st ed.)
ReleasedDecember 1888 (1st ed.)

A Tale of the House of the Wolfings and All the Kindreds of the Mark is a novel by William Morris. It was the first of the author's 'prose romances', written during his last eight years. The novel was followed by The Roots of the Mountains.[1]

In this novel Morris was perhaps the first to have used the English word Mirkwood, likely derived from Old Norse. In the same manner, J.R.R. Tolkien had created Mirkwood, although it can be seen in a letter to his grandson that he derived the word independently of Morris. Tolkien had, however, bought The House of the Wolfings as early as in spring 1914,[2] and commented in a 1960 letter that he was inspired by The House of the Wolfings in his depiction of the Dead Marshes and the approaches to the Morannon in The Lord of the Rings.[3]

Tolkien scholars have discussed several other possible instances of influence that The House of the Wolfings may have had on Tolkien: both specific ones such as the Red Arrow and Mid-mark (compare Mark), and a more general influence such as "the Germanic sense of enemy and battle"[4] and a literary style "heavily laden with archaisms and poetic inversions in an attempt to recreate the aura of ancient legend".[5]

External links[edit]


  1. Robert Boenig, "The House of the Wolfings", in The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 14 February 2007. Accessed 2 September 2010.
  2. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (2006), The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: Reader's Guide, "Morris, William", pp. 598-604
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 226, (dated 31 December 1960)
  4. Marjorie Burns, "Echoes of William Morris's Icelandic Journals in J.R.R. Tolkien", in Studies in Medievalism, no. 3 (Winter 1991)
  5. Humphrey Carpenter, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, p. 70