The Tolkien Trust

From Tolkien Gateway
(Redirected from Tolkien Trust)
Company Information
Founded1 April 1977
TypeCharitable incorporated organisation
Key peopleChristopher Tolkien
Priscilla Tolkien
Baillie Tolkien
Michael George Tolkien

The Tolkien Trust is a British charity founded in 1977 by J.R.R. Tolkien's children. As a charitable trust, it makes grants to a wide variety of organisations at the discretion of the current trustees.[1] It does not manage Tolkien's literary estate,[2] even though its source of income is via the copyright it owns to some of Tolkien's works that were formerly owned by The Tolkien Estate.


Created on 1 April 1977, and registered with the Charity Commission from 2 June 1977, the Trust was founded by J.R.R. Tolkien's four children: John, Michael, Christopher and Priscilla. Today, the trustees of the charity are Christopher, Priscilla, Michael George Tolkien (son of Michael, succeeding his sister Joan as a trustee in 2008),[3] and Christopher's wife Baillie Tolkien.[4]

The Trust makes grants to other charitable causes at the discretion of the trustees. It currently does not accept unsolicited applications for funding,[5] but does list a number of specific areas it supports:

1. emergency and disaster relief
2. overseas aid and development
3. the homeless and refugees
4. healthcare charities, especially those focusing on illnesses of childhood and old age, the needs of disadvantaged communities and medical research
5. religious causes promoting peace and reconciliation and work with impoverished communities
6. environmental causes
7. education and the arts

In the period 2008-13, sizeable grants (£100,000 and over) have been made to: Enfants du Monde, The Grail Centre Trust, Oxfam, Rebuilding Sri Lanka,[3] Action Against Hunger (Haiti Earthquake Appeal), Médecins Sans Frontières (Haiti Earthquake Appeal), UNICEF (Haiti Earthquake Appeal), University of Manitoba (Alan Klass Memorial Fund),[6] Action Against Hunger (Pakistan Flooding), Find Your Feet, King Edward's School Birmingham Trust, Médecins Sans Frontières (Pakistan Flooding), Oxfam (Pakistan Flooding), UNICEF,[7] and The Bodleian Library.[8] On top of that, The Tolkien Trust has also been listed as a supporter of Birdlife International,[9] the Koestler Trust,[10] the Orchestra of St. John's,[11] the Oxford Botanic Garden,[12] the Prisoners' Educational Trust,[13] and the WWF.[14]


From 2003 and 2006 the Trust and The Tolkien Estate demanded royalties from The Lord of the Rings films.[15] Following claims from New Line Cinema that the films failed to make a profit, on 11 February 2008 The Tolkien Trust, The Tolkien Estate and HarperCollins filed a lawsuit seeking at least $150 million (7.5% of gross revenue) in damages. They accused New Line Cinema of "unabashed and insatiable greed" and the "infamous practice of creative 'Hollywood accounting'."[16] The claim, which also attempted to stop production of the forthcoming Hobbit films, was concluded on 8 September 2009 with an out-of-court settlement.[17] Christopher Tolkien said that they "regret that legal action was necessary, but are glad that this dispute has been settled on satisfactory terms"[18] and that "New Line may now proceed with its proposed films of 'The Hobbit'", whilst their lawyer said that they "feel vindicated and are entirely satisfied with the terms of the settlement." Alan Horn, president of Warner Bros. (owners of New Line Cinema) said "we all look forward to a mutually productive and beneficial relationship in the future".[19] Although both sides refused to reveal the size of settlement - simply saying that the Tolkien Trust would receive a "significant portion" - the Trust's accounts reveal that in 2009 and 2010 it received £24 million and £1.6 million respectively in film rights,[3][6] and in 2011 it received £603,515 in merchandising rights.[7]

On the 19 November 2012, Priscilla Tolkien as a trustee of The Tolkien Trust, The Tolkien Estate and HarperCollins ("the plaintiffs") filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros., New Line Cinema and the Saul Zaentz Company ("the defendants") seeking damages of $80 million.[20] They claimed that Tolkien's copyright had been breached and that the defendants had no right to sell themed slot machines and downloadable video games; in the claim the plaintiffs state: "Not only does the production of gambling games patently exceed the scope of defendants' rights, but this infringing conduct has outraged Tolkien's devoted fan base, causing irreparable harm to Tolkien's legacy and reputation and the valuable goodwill generated by his works."[21] They assert that the merchandising rights only extend to physical, and not electronic, products.[22] On 11 March 2013, Saul Zaentz and Warner Bros. filed counter-claims against the plaintiffs (including The Tolkien Trust) arguing that as a result of the Estate's actions the defendants had lost out on merchandising income, and that there has been a breach of good-faith by the Estate and the Trust.[23]


The primary assets of The Tolkien Trust are the copyrights to certain works by J.R.R. Tolkien which continue to provide income to the Trust. The assets held by The Tolkien Trust are a number of (many posthumous) publications by J.R.R. Tolkien:[3]

The Trust also holds a number of sundry assets:


The Trust does not partake in any fund-raising activity: all income received constitute royalties from copyrights and subsequent investments. Although the Trust holds literary assets no value is provided for them on the grounds that it would not be "practical and cost-effective"; as such, the primary assets of the Trust are cash and investments (bonds and shares). The Trust has an ethical investment policy so has no investment in tobacco, or the manufacture of armaments.[3] In 2012, gambling services was added to the list of investments the Trust would not hold.[8]

The Trust was founded on 1 April 1977 and its financial year was the same as the United Kingdom's fiscal year for individuals (6 April - 5 April). In 2013 the existed unincorporated charity was closed and its assets transferred to a new charitable incorporated organisation; the new charity's financial year is the same as the calendar year.[24]

  (on charitable activities)£1,098,289£3,712,300£1,141,114£811,526£681,906

See also

External links


  1. "Charity overview - The Tolkien Trust", Charity Commission (accessed 7 July 2015)
  2. "FAQ", The Tolkien Trust (accessed 7 July 2015)
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 "The Tolkien Trust - Accounts for the Year Ended 5 April 2009", Charity Commission (accessed 7 July 2015)
  4. "Contact and trustees - The Tolkien Trust", Charity Commission (accessed 7 July 2015)
  5. "Applications", The Tolkien Trust (accessed 7 July 2015)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 "The Tolkien Trust - Accounts for the Year Ended 5 April 2010", Charity Commission (accessed 7 July 2015)
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 "The Tolkien Trust - Accounts for the Year Ended 5 April 2011", Charity Commission (accessed 7 July 2015)
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "The Tolkien Trust - Accounts for the Year Ended 5 April 2012", Charity Commission (accessed 7 July 2015)
  9. "Major Donors and Supporters", Birdlife International (accessed 7 July 2015)
  10. "How we are funded", Koestler Trust (accessed 7 July 2015)
  11. "About our Supporters", Orchestra of St. John's (accessed 7 July 2015)
  12. "Get Involved", Oxford Botanic Garden (accessed 7 July 2015)
  13. "Our Supporters", Prisoners' Educational Trust (accessed 7 July 2015)
  14. "Our supporters", WWF UK (accessed 7 July 2015)
  15. Raphaëlle Rérolle, "My Father's "Eviscerated" Work - Son Of Hobbit Scribe J.R.R. Tolkien Finally Speaks Out" dated 5 December 2012, World Crunch (accessed 7 July 2015)
  16. "Tolkien heirs sue Lord of the Rings studio for $150m" dated 12 February 2008, The Guardian (accessed 7 July 2015)
  17. Alex Dobuzinskis, "Legal settlement clears way for 'Hobbit' movie" dated 8 September 2009, Reuters (accessed 7 July 2015)
  18. Claudia Eller, "New Line resolves lawsuit with Tolkien Trust and HarperCollins over 'Lord of the Rings'" dated 8 September 2009, Los Angeles Times (accessed 7 July 2015)
  19. "Warner Bros. settles lawsuit over 'Lord of the Rings' licensing payments" dated 9 September 2009, Los Angeles Times (accessed 7 July 2015)
  20. Raf Sanchez, "JRR Tolkien's daughter sues producers of The Hobbit" dated 20 November 2012, The Telegraph (accessed 7 July 2015)
  21. "Trouble in the shire: Tolkien family sues movie makers for $80MILLION over 'Hobbit' trilogy merchandizing" dated 21 November 2012, The Daily Mail (accessed 7 July 2015)
  22. Daniel Miller, "Gambling's a really bad hobbit: Tolkien family and Warner Bros at war over Lord of the Rings fruit machines" dated 15 March 2013, The Daily Mail (accessed 7 July 2015)
  23. Kelvarhin, "Making Sense of the latest Tolkien Lawsuit" dated 16 July 2013, (accessed 7 July 2015)
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 24.3 24.4 24.5 "The Tolkien Trust - Accounts for the Year Ended 31 December 2013", Charity Commission (accessed 7 July 2015)