Letter to C.A. Furth, Allen & Unwin

Could you give me any idea of the latest date by which the completed MSS. ought to reach you? I have worked under difficulties of all kinds, including ill-health. Since the beginning of December I have not been able to touch it. Among many other labours and troubles that the sudden death of my friend Professor Eric Gordon bequeathed to me, I had to clear up the New Zealand examinations, which occupied nearly all last vacation. I then caught influenza, from which I have just recovered. But I have other heavy tasks ahead. I am at the peak of my educational financial stress, with a second son clamouring for a university and the youngest wanting to go to school (after a year under heart-specialists), and I am obliged to do exams and lectures and what not. Perhaps you ought to be thinking about Mr Bliss. And what about Farmer Giles? You had the MSS. of the enlarged form in September or October.

I think The Lord of the Rings is in itself a good deal better than The Hobbit, but it may not prove a very fit sequel. It is more grown up - but the audience for which The Hobbit was written has done that also. The readers young and old who clamoured for 'more about the 'Necromancer' are to blame, for the N. is not child's play.* My eldest son is enthusiastic, but it would be a relief to me to know that my publishers were satisfied. If the part so far written satisfied you, there need be no fear of the whole. I wonder whether it would not be a wise thing to get what I have done typed and let you see it? I shall certainly finish it eventually whatever you think of it; but if it did not seem to be what you want to follow The Hobbit there would be no desperate pressure. The writing of The Lord of the Rings is laborious, because I have been doing it as well as I know how, and considering every word. The story, too, has (I fondly imagine) some significance. In spare time it would be easier and quicker to write up the plots already composed of the more lighthearted stories of the Little Kingdom to go with Farmer Giles. But I would rather finish the long tale, and not let it go cold.

JRRT Footnote:* Still there are more hobbits, far more of them and about them, in the new story. Gollum reappears, and Gandalf is to the fore: 'dwarves' come in; and though there is no dragon (so far) there is going to be a Giant; and the new and (very alarming) Ringwraiths are a feature. There ought to be things that people who liked the old mixture will find to have a similar taste.

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
2 February 1939

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