Tolkien's Lost Chaucer

From Tolkien Gateway
Tolkien's Lost Chaucer
Publication Information
AuthorJohn M. Bowers
PublisherOxford University Press
Released10 October 2019

Tolkien's Lost Chaucer is a scholarly book by John M. Bowers, published in 2019 by the Oxford University Press. It explores J.R.R. Tolkien's unfinished and previously unknown work, known as the "Clarendon Chaucer".

The work was supposed to be an edition of Geoffrey Chaucer's poetry. Being the main editor, Tolkien worked on it for many years, but for various reasons it was ultimately left unfinished. What is left from this abandoned project are Tolkien's annotated proofs of its Text, a Glossary, and a 160-page Notes which he failed to compress.

The book quotes abundantly from these materials, showing Tolkien's thoughts about Chaucer's language and storytelling. It also quotes from Tolkien's 1934 essay "Chaucer as a Philologist" and 1939 "Reeve's Tale", as well as other unpublished lecture notes and letters, showing how Tolkien's work on Chaucer has inspired his later writings.

A follow-up volume, Tolkien on Chaucer, 1913-1959, is published in 2024.


  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Illustrations
  • List of Abbreviation
  1. Prologue: Concerning Chaucer
  2. Unexpected Journeys
  3. Four Chaucerians: Walter W. Skeat, Kenneth Sisam,
    George S. Gordon, C. S. Lewis
  4. Tolkien as Editor: Text and Glossary
  5. The Chaucerian Incubus: The Notes
  6. Tolkien as a Chaucerian: The Reeve's Tale
  7. Chaucer in Middle-earth
  8. Coda: Fathers and Sons
  • Appendix I
  • Appendix II
  • Works Cited
  • Index

From the publisher

Tolkien's Lost Chaucer uncovers the story of an unpublished and previously unknown book by the author of The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien worked between 1922 and 1928 on his Clarendon edition Selections from Chaucer's Poetry and Prose, and though never completed, its 160 pages of commentary reveals much of his thinking about language and storytelling when he was still at the threshold of his career as an epoch-making writer of fantasy literature. Drawing upon other new materials such as his edition of the Reeve's Tale and his Oxford lectures on the Pardoner's Tale, this book reveals Chaucer as a major influence upon Tolkien's literary imagination.

External links

A J.R.R. Tolkien book guide
Books by or mainly by Tolkien
On Arda Authored by
J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
(i.The Fellowship of the Ring · ii.The Two Towers · iii.The Return of the King) ·
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil · The Road Goes Ever On · Bilbo's Last Song
Edited by Christopher Tolkien The Silmarillion · Unfinished Tales · The History of Middle-earth series
(i.The Book of Lost Tales: Part One · ii.The Book of Lost Tales: Part Two · iii.The Lays of Beleriand · iv.The Shaping of Middle-earth · v.The Lost Road and Other Writings · vi.The Return of the Shadow · vii.The Treason of Isengard · viii.The War of the Ring · ix.Sauron Defeated · x.Morgoth's Ring · xi.The War of the Jewels · xii.The Peoples of Middle-earth · Index) ·
The Children of Húrin · Beren and Lúthien · The Fall of Gondolin
Edited by others The Annotated Hobbit · The History of The Hobbit · The Nature of Middle-earth · The Fall of Númenor
Not on Arda Short stories
and others
Leaf by Niggle · Farmer Giles of Ham · Smith of Wootton Major · Letters from Father Christmas ·
Mr. Bliss · Roverandom · Tree and Leaf (compilation) · Tales from the Perilous Realm (compilation)
Fictional works The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún · The Fall of Arthur · The Story of Kullervo · The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
Translations and academic works Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo · The Old English Exodus · Finn and Hengest ·
The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays · Beowulf and the Critics · Tolkien On Fairy-stories ·
Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary · A Secret Vice · The Battle of Maldon
Letters & poems The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien · The Collected Poems of J.R.R. Tolkien
academic works
A Middle English Vocabulary · Sir Gawain and the Green Knight · Ancrene Wisse
Books by other authors
Books on Arda The Complete Guide to Middle-earth · The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion ·
The Maps of Middle-earth
Tolkien biographies J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography · The Inklings · Tolkien and the Great War
Scholarly books The Road to Middle-earth · The Keys of Middle-earth · The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide ·
The Ring of Words · A Companion to J.R.R. Tolkien · Tolkien's Lost Chaucer · Tolkien's Library · Tolkien on Chaucer, 1913-1959
Scholarly journals Tolkien Studies · (The Chronology)
Other works by Tolkien
Linguistic journals Vinyar Tengwar various issues · Parma Eldalamberon issue 11-22
Collections of artwork
and manuscripts
Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien · J.R.R. Tolkien: Life and Legend · J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator ·
The Art of The Hobbit · The Art of The Lord of the Rings · Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth ·
Tolkien: Treasures · J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript
This list is only a selection, for a fuller bibliography of Tolkien see here or here. See also a timeline and an index.