Christopher John Reuel Tolkien (21 November 1924 – 16 January 2020) was an English editor and academic. He was the son of author J. R. R. Tolkien and the editor of much of his father's posthumously published work. Tolkien drew the original maps for his father's The Lord of the Rings.
1 Early life
2.1 Editorial work
2.2 Reaction to filmed versions
3 Personal life
6 External links
Tolkien was born in Leeds, England, the third of four children and youngest son of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and his wife, Edith Mary Tolkien (née Bratt). He was educated at the Dragon School (Oxford) and later at The Oratory School.
He entered the Royal Air Force in mid-1943 and was sent to South Africa for flight training, completing the elementary flying course at 7 Air School, Kroonstad, and the service flying course at 25 Air School, Standerton. He was commissioned into the general duties branch of the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve on 27 January 1945 as a pilot officer on probation (emergency) and was given the service number 193121. He briefly served as an RAF pilot before transferring to the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve on 28 June 1945. His commission was confirmed and it was announced he was promoted to flying officer (war substantive) on 27 July 1945.
After the war, he studied English at Trinity College, Oxford, taking his B.A. in 1949 and his B.Litt. a few years later.
Tolkien had long been part of the critical audience for his father's fiction, first as a child listening to tales of Bilbo Baggins (which were published as The Hobbit), and then as a teenager and young adult offering much feedback on The Lord of the Rings during its 15-year gestation. He had the task of interpreting his father's sometimes self-contradictory maps of Middle-earth in order to produce the versions used in the books, and he re-drew the main map in the late 1970s to clarify the lettering and correct some errors and omissions. Tolkien was invited by his father to join the Inklings when he was 21 years old, making him the youngest member of the informal literary discussion society that included C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, Warren Lewis, Lord David Cecil, and Nevill Coghill.
He published The Saga of King Heidrek the Wise: "Translated from the Icelandic with Introduction, Notes and Appendices by Christopher Tolkien" in 1960. Later, Tolkien followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a lecturer and tutor in English Language at New College, Oxford, from 1964 to 1975.
In 2016, he was given the Bodley Medal, an award that recognises outstanding contributions to literature, culture, science, and communication.
His father wrote a great deal of material connected to the Middle-earth legendarium that was not published in his lifetime. He had originally intended to publish The Silmarillion along with The Lord of the Rings, and parts of it were in a finished state when he died in 1973, but the project was incomplete. Tolkien once referred to his son as his "chief critic and collaborator", and named him his literary executor in his will. Tolkien organised the masses of his father's unpublished writings, some of them written on odd scraps of paper a half-century earlier. Much of the material was handwritten; frequently a fair draft was written over a half-erased first draft, and names of characters routinely changed between the beginning and end of the same draft. In the years following, Tolkien worked on the manuscripts and was able to produce an edition of The Silmarillion for publication in 1977.
The Silmarillion was followed by Unfinished Tales in 1980, and The History of Middle-earth in 12 volumes between 1983 and 1996. Most of the original source-texts have been made public from which The Silmarillion was constructed. In April 2007, Tolkien published The Children of Húrin, whose story his father had brought to a relatively complete stage between 1951 and 1957 before abandoning it. This was one of his father's earliest stories, its first version dating back to 1918; several versions are published in The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, and The History of Middle-earth. The Children of Húrin is a synthesis of these and other sources. Beren and Lúthien is an editorial work and was published as a stand-alone book in 2017.
The next year, The Fall of Gondolin was published, also as an editorial work. The Children of Húrin, Beren and Lúthien, and The Fall of Gondolin make up the three "Great Tales" of the Elder Days which J.R.R. Tolkien considered to be the biggest stories of the First Age.
HarperCollins published other J. R. R. Tolkien work edited by Tolkien which is not connected to the Middle-earth legendarium. The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún appeared in May 2009, a verse retelling of the Norse Völsung cycle, followed by The Fall of Arthur in May 2013, and by Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary in May 2014.
Tolkien served as chairman of the Tolkien Estate, Ltd., the entity formed to handle the business side of his father's literary legacy, and as a trustee of the Tolkien Charitable Trust. He resigned as director of the estate in 2017.
Reaction to filmed versions
In 2001, he expressed doubts over The Lord of the Rings film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, questioning the viability of a film interpretation that retained the essence of the work, but stressed that this was just his opinion. In a 2012 interview with Le Monde he criticised the films saying: "They gutted the book, making an action film for 15 to 25-year-olds."
In 2008, Tolkien commenced legal proceedings against New Line Cinema, which he claimed owed his family £80 million in unpaid royalties. In September 2009, he and New Line reached an undisclosed settlement, and he withdrew his legal objection to The Hobbit films.
Tolkien lived from 1975 in the French countryside with his second wife, Baillie Tolkien (née Klass), who edited his father's The Father Christmas Letters for posthumous publication. They had two children, Adam Reuel Tolkien and Rachel Clare Reuel Tolkien. In the wake of a dispute surrounding the making of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy he disowned his son by his first marriage, barrister and novelist Simon Mario Reuel Tolkien, though they reconciled prior to Christopher's death.
He died on 16 January 2020, at the age of 95, in Draguignan, Var, France.
As author or translator
The Saga of King Heidrek the Wise (PDF). Translated by ———. 1960., from the Icelandic Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks
Chaucer, Geoffrey (1958) . ———; Coghill, Nevill (eds.). The Nun's Priest's Tale.
Chaucer, Geoffrey (1959) . ———; Coghill, Nevill (eds.). The Pardoner's Tale.
Chaucer, Geoffrey (1969) . ———; Coghill, Nevill (eds.). The Man of Law's Tale.
———, ed. (1975). Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo. Translated by Tolkien, J. R. R.; Gordon, E.V.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (1977). ——— (ed.). The Silmarillion. ISBN 9780395257302.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (1979). ——— (ed.). Pictures by J. R. R. Tolkien. ISBN 9780047410031.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (2010) . ——— (ed.). Unfinished Tales. ISBN 978-0261102163.
Carpenter, Humphrey; ———, eds. (2005) . The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien. ISBN 978-0261102651.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (2007) . ——— (ed.). The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays. ISBN 978-0261102637.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (1983–2002). ——— (ed.). The History of Middle-earth. ISBN 978-0008259846.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (1983). ——— (ed.). The Book of Lost Tales, part 1. 1. ISBN 978-0261102224.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (1984). ——— (ed.). The Book of Lost Tales, part 2. 2. ISBN 978-0261102149.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (1985). ——— (ed.). The Lays of Beleriand. 3. ISBN 978-0261102262.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (1986). ——— (ed.). The Shaping of Middle-earth. 4. ISBN 9780261102187.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (1987). ——— (ed.). The Lost Road and Other Writings. 5. ISBN 9780007348220.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (1988). ——— (ed.). The Return of the Shadow. 6. ISBN 9780007365302.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (1989). ——— (ed.). The Treason of Isengard. 7. ISBN 978-0395515624.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (1990). ——— (ed.). The War of the Ring. 8. ISBN 978-0261102231.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (1992). ——— (ed.). Sauron Defeated. 9. ISBN 978-0395606490.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (1993). ——— (ed.). Morgoth's Ring. 10. ISBN 978-0261103009.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (1994). ——— (ed.). The War of the Jewels. 11. ISBN 978-0261103245.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (1996). ——— (ed.). The Peoples of Middle-earth. 12. ISBN 978-0261103481.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (2002). ——— (ed.). The History of Middle-earth Index.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (2007). ——— (ed.). The Children of Húrin. ISBN 978-0007597338.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (2009). ——— (ed.). The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún. ISBN 978-0007317240.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (2013). ——— (ed.). The Fall of Arthur. ISBN 978-0007557301.
———, ed. (2014). Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary. Translated by Tolkien, J. R. R. ISBN 978-0007590094.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (2017). ——— (ed.). Beren and Lúthien. ISBN 978-0008214197.
Tolkien, J. R. R. (2018). ——— (ed.). The Fall of Gondolin. ISBN 978-0008302757.
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