Quotations by Tolkien, J.R.R.


Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
“On Fairy-Stories,” Lecture, University of St Andrews (8 Mar 1939)
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There are also conflicts about important things or ideas In such cases I am more impressed by the extreme importance of being on the right side, than I am disturbed by the revelation of the jungle of confused motives, private purposes, and individual actions (noble or base) in which the right and the wrong in actual human conflicts are commonly involved.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
Letters


Notes on W.H. Auden's review of Return of the King. Full text.

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Give me a king whose chief interest in life is stamps, railways, or race-horses ….

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
Letters, Letter to Christopher Tolkien (29 Nov 1943)
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Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Hobbit, ch. 1 “An Unexpected Party” (1937)
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As they sang the hobbit felt the love of beautiful things made by hands and by cunning and by magic moving through him, a fierce and a jealous love, the desire of the hearts of dwarves.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Hobbit, ch. 1 “An Unexpected Party” (1937)
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It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Hobbit, ch. 12 “Inside Information” (1937)
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‘I come from under the hill, and under the hills and over the hills my paths led. And through the air. I am he that walks unseen. I am the clue-finder, the web-cutter, the stinging fly. I was chosen for the lucky number. I am he that buries his friends alive and drowns them and draws them alive again from the water. I came from the end of bag, but no bag went over me. I am the friend of bears and the guest of eagles. I am Ring-winner and Luckwearer; and I am Barrel-rider.’

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Hobbit, ch. 12 “Inside Information” (1937)
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“Never laugh at live dragons, Bilbo you fool!” he said to himself, and it became a favorite saying of his later, and passed into a proverb.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Hobbit, ch. 12 “Inside Information” (1937)
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There is more in you of good than you know, child of the kindly West. Some courage and some wisdom, blended in measure. If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Hobbit, ch. 18 “The Return Journey” [Thorin] (1937)
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This thing all things devours:
Birds, beasts, trees, flowers;
Gnaws iron, bites steel;
Grinds hard stones to meal;
Slays king, ruins town,
And beats high mountain down.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Hobbit, ch. 5 “Riddles in the Dark” (1937)

One of Gollum's riddles for Bilbo. The answer is "time."
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“I wish it need not have happened in my lifetime,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, ch. 2 “The Shadow of the Past” (1954)
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Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, ch. 2 “The Shadow of the Past” (1954)
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‘What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!’

‘Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand. Pity, and Mercy: not to strike without need. And he has been well rewarded, Frodo. Be sure that he took so little hurt from the evil, and escaped in the end, because he began his ownership of the Ring so. With Pity.’

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, ch. 2 “The Shadow of the Past” [Bilbo and Gandalf] (1954)
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Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, ch. 2 “The Shadow of the Past” [Gandalf] (1954)
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The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, ch. 3 “Three Is Company” [Gildor] (1954)
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The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, ch. 3 “Three Is Company” [Gildor] (1954)
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Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, ch. 3 “Three Is Company” [Gildor] (1954)
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All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.
From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, ch. 7 “Strider” (1954)
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That night they heard no noises. But either in his dreams or out of them, he could not tell which, Frodo heard a sweet singing running in his mind: a song that seemed to come like a pale light behind a grey rain-curtain, and growing stronger to turn the veil all to silver and glass, until at last it was rolled back, and a far green country opened before him under a swift sunrise.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, ch. 8 “Fog on the Barrow-Downs” (1954)
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Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow,
Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow.
None has ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the master:
His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, ch. 8 “Fog on the Barrow-Downs” (1954)
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The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way,
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, ch. 1 “A Long-expected Party” (1954)
    (Source)
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Gil-galad was an Elven-king.
Of him the harpers sadly sing:
the last whose realm was fair and free
between the Mountains and the Sea.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 1, ch. 11 “A Knife in the Dark” (1954)
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He who breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, ch. 1 “The Council of Elrond” [Gandalf to Saruman] (1954)
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Seek for the Sword that was broken:
In Imladris it dwells;
There shall be counsels taken
Stronger than Morgul-spells.
There shall be shown a token
That Doom is near at hand,
For Isildur’s Bane shall waken,
And the Halfling forth shall stand.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, ch. 2 “The Council of Elrond” (1954)
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‘I will take the Ring,’ he said, ‘though I do not know the way.’

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, ch. 2 “The Council of Elrond” [Frodo] (1954)
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Despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, ch. 2 “The Council of Elrond” [Gandalf] (1954)
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And now at last it comes. You will give me the Ring freely! In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen. And I shall not be dark, but beautiful and terrible as the Morning and the Night! Fair as the Sea and the Sun and the Snow upon the Mountain! Dreadful as the Storm and the Lightning! Stronger than the foundations of the earth. All shall love me and despair!

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Book 2, ch. 7 “The Mirror of Galadriel” [Galadriel] (1954)
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We have heard tell that Legolas took Gimli Glóin’s son with him because of their great friendship, greater than any that has been between Elf and Dwarf. If this is true, then it is strange indeed: that a Dwarf should be willing to leave Middle-earth for any love, or that the Eldar should receive him, or that the Lords of the West should permit it. But it is said that Gimli went also out of desire to see again the beauty of Galadriel; and it may be that she, being mighty among the Eldar, obtained this grace for him. More cannot be said of this matter.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Appendices (1954)
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‘What do you fear, lady?’ he asked.
‘A cage,’ she said. ‘To stay behind bars, until use and old age accept them, and all chance of doing great deeds is gone beyond recall or desire.’

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Book 5, ch. 2 “The Passing of the Grey Company” [Aragorn and Eowyn] (1954)
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Arise, arise, Riders of Théoden!
Fell deeds awake, fire and slaughter!
Spear shall be shaken, shield be splintered,
A sword-day, a red day, ere the sun rises!
Ride now, ride now! Ride to ruin, and the world’s ending!

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Book 5, ch. 5 “The Ride of the Rohirrim” (1954)
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Other evils there are that may come; for Sauron is himself but a servant or emissary. Yet it is not our part to master all the tides of the world, but to do what is in us for the succour of those years wherein we are set, uprooting the evil in the fields that we know, so that those who live after may have clean earth to till. What weather they shall have is not ours to rule.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Book 5, ch. 9 “The Last Debate” [Gandalf] (1954)
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There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Book 6, ch. 2 “The Land of Shadow” (1954)
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Where there’s a whip there’s a will, my slugs.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Book 6, ch. 2 “The Land of Shadow” (1954)
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Many folk like to know beforehand what is to be set on the table; but those who have laboured to prepare the feast like to keep their secret; for wonder makes the words of praise louder.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Book 6, ch. 4 “The Steward and the King” (1954)
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“It needs but one foe to breed a war, not two, Master Warden,” answered Éowyn. “And those who have not swords can still die upon them. “

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Book 6, ch. 5 “The Steward and the King” (1954)
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There is no real going back. Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same; for I shall not be the same. I am wounded with knife, sting, and tooth, and a long burden. Where shall I find rest?

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Book 6, ch. 7 “Homeward Bound” [Frodo] (1954)
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‘How shall a man judge what to do in such times?’

‘As he ever has judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves, and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.’

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Book 3, ch. 2 “The Riders of Rohan” (1954)
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‘The counsel of Gandalf was not founded on foreknowledge of safety, for himself or for others,’ said Aragorn. ‘There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark.’

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Book 3, ch. 2 “The Riders of Rohan” (1954)
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Many of those trees were my friends creatures I had known from nut and acorn; many had voices of their own that are lost for ever now. And there are wastes of stump and bramble where once there were singing groves. I have been idle. I have let things slip. It must stop!

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Book 3, ch. 4 “Treebeard” (1954)
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I am not altogether on anybody’s side, because nobody is altogether on my side, if you understand me.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Book 3, ch. 4 “Treebeard” [Treebeard] (1954)
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‘The treacherous are ever distrustful,’ answered Gandalf wearily.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Book 3, ch. 10 “The Voice of Saruman” (1954)
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Be not too eager to deal out death in the name of justice, fearing for your own safety. Even the wise cannot see all ends.

 

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Book 4, ch. 1 “The Taming of Sméagol” (1954)
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“For myself,” said Faramir, “I would see the White Tree in flower again in the courts of the kings, and the Silver Crown return, and Minas Tirith in peace: Minas Anor again as of old, full of light, high and fair, beautiful as a queen among other queens; not as a mistress of many slaves, nay, not even a kind mistress of willing slaves. War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Númenor, and I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom. Not feared, save as men may fear the dignity of a man, old and wise.”

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Book 4, ch. 5 “The Window on the West” (1954)
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“Not if I found it on the highway would I take it I said. Even if I were such a man as to desire this thing, and even though I knew not clearly what this thing was when I spoke, still I should take these words as a vow, and be held by them. But I am not such a man. Or I am wise enough to know that there are some perils from which a man must flee.”

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Book 4, ch. 5 “The Window on the West” (1954)
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It is not said that evil arts were ever practised in Gondor, or that the Nameless One was ever named in honour there; and the old wisdom and beauty brought out of the West remained long in the realm of the sons of Elendil the Fair, and they linger there still. Yet even so it was Gondor that brought about its own decay, falling by degrees into dotage, and thinking that the Enemy was asleep, who was only banished not destroyed. Death was ever present, because the Númenoreans still, as they had in their Old Kingdom, and so lost it, hungered after endless life unchanging. Kings made tombs more splendid than houses of the living and counted old names in the rolls of their descent dearer than the names of sons. Childless lords sat in aged halls musing on heraldry; in secret chambers withered men compounded strong elixirs, or in high cold towers asked questions of the stars. And the last king of the line of Anárion had no heir.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Book 4, ch. 5 “The Window on the West” [Faramir] (1954)
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“I would not take this thing, if it lay by the highway. Not were Minas Tirith falling in ruin and I alone could save her, so, using the weapon of the Dark Lord for her good and my glory. No, I do not wish for such triumphs, Frodo son of Drogo.”

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Book 4, ch. 5, “The Window on the West” [Faramir] (1954)
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The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually — their paths were laid that way, as you put it.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Book 4, ch. 8 “The Stairs of Cirith Ungol” [Sam] (1954)
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‘I wish life was not so short,’ he thought. ‘Languages take such a time, and so do all the things one wants to know about.’

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
The Lost Road, [Alboin Errol] (1987) [ed. C. Tolkien]
Added on 28-Aug-07 | Last updated 14-Jan-11
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I regret that I am not clear as to what you intend by ‘arisch’. I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. … But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. … I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.

J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) English writer, fabulist, philologist, academic [John Ronald Reuel Tolkien]
Letter to German publishers (25 Jul 1938)

In response to the publishers' inquiry about his ancestry, Tolkien drafted two letters to Stanley Unwin, his agent.  Unwin forwarded the other one, which refused to answer the question at all.

Added on 1-Feb-11 | Last updated 1-Feb-11
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