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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