“Middle-Earth's First Scholar,” Dies At 95

Appreciating Christopher Tolkien and his efforts.
Friday 17 January 2020
Christopher Tolkien, photographed in 1992. Photo: Charles E Noad/Tolkien Society

The son of literary great J.R.R. Tolkien – author of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit – died on 15 January 2020, at the age of 95.

Regarded as “Middle-earth’s First Scholar,” by the Tolkien Society – the official body that promotes the life and works of the revered fantasy writer – Christopher’s death was informed and confirmed by Daniel Klass, Christopher’s brother-in-law.

Oxford University-educated Tolkien was the author’s third and youngest son, and was responsible carrying on the legacy of his father’s work following his death in 1973.

These are some of his efforts and contribution to the literary world:

Drew the map of Middle Earth

The son of the fantasy author drew the original Lord of the Rings map that everybody knows. The design is iconic, but his father only provided the outline – the drawing and calligraphy was entirely done by Christopher.

Continued the Tolkien legacy

“Christopher’s commitment to his father’s works has seen dozens of publications released, and his own work as an academic in Oxford demonstrates his ability and skill as a scholar,” shares Tolkien Society chairman Shaun Gunner.

The former lecturer in Old and Middle English as well as Old Icelandic at the University of Oxford spent years editing the works that had been left unfinished at the time of his father’s death in 1973.

He subsequently published these works – beginning in 1977 with The Silmarillion, which is a compendium of creation myths from Middle-earth, and continuing through the publication of the love story of Beren and Lúthien in 2017.

Managed Tolkien Creative Rights

The younger Tolkien was the literary executor of the Tolkien Estate, the legal body that manages the copyrights of J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary works. Christopher was responsible for managing the creative rights, and was known to be quite critical of the commercialisation of his father’s work.

In a 2012 interview with French newspaper Le Monde, Christopher was reported to say:

“Tolkien has become a monster, devoured by his own popularity and absorbed by the absurdity of our time.”

“The chasm between the beauty and seriousness of the work and what it has become has overwhelmed me. The commercialisation has reduced the aesthetic and philosophical impact of the creation to nothing.

“There is only one solution for me: to turn my head away.”

At current, executors of the estate include Christopher’s wife Baillie Tolkien, his nephew Michael George Tolkien and Priscilla Tolkien. Cathleen Blackburn of Manches & Co. has been the estate’s solicitor for many years.

Source: Independent