The original Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, published in 1981, included extracts from over 350 letters from the Lord of the Rings author to various people in his life and literary sphere. It was heavily edited for clarity, as Tolkien was a prolific correspondent and the editors knew that focusing the book would help it be used as a canon expansion in fan and academic circles.
Now, HarperCollins has announced a revised and expanded edition of The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Humphrey Carpenter (the editor involved in the original publication in the ‘80s) is credited posthumously as the editor, alongside the assistance of J.R.R. Tolkien’s son, Christopher Tolkien, who passed away in 2020.
Carpenter wrote the first and only fully authorized biography of Tolkien, and later worked “closely with Christopher Tolkien to edit the letters,” according to a HarperCollins press release. Christopher Tolkien was heavily involved in all literary endeavors concerning his father’s work, as he was the literary executor of the Tolkien estate.
HarperCollins’ senior vice president, Jennifer Hart, says that this manuscript more accurately reflects the original intention of Carpenter and Christopher Tolkien. Describing the 1981 book, she says that “at the publisher’s request, [Carpenter and Tolkien] were required to reduce the original selection to what was then deemed a publishable extent. By going back to the editors’ original typescripts and notes, it has finally been possible for us to reinstate the 150 letters they excised purely for length—an additional 50,000 words—and publish the book as originally intended.”
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien will be published on November 14, 2023. It is available for preorder here.
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