Bonhams to auction unpublished letter from Tolkien on Lord of the Rings

An unpublished letter from J.R.R. Tolkien to his publishers about the difficulties of completing The Return of the King, the third and final part of The Lord of the Rings, is to be offered at Bonhams sale of Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Historical Photographs in London on 19 March. It is estimated at £6,000-8,000.

Many of Tolkien’s concerns are to do with the problems he faced in preparing the appendices to the work. These contain extra, detailed material on the background to the story, the characters and their culture.

Tolkien had shown the galley proofs of the appendices to the poet W. H. Auden, an admirer of the novels, who, he reports, had largely approved. Auden had, however, questioned the inclusion of the love story – ‘The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen’ – much to Tolkien’s dismay since, as he wrote to Unwin, “I still find it poignant: an allegory of naked hope’.