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Christopher Tolkien, recently deceased, is best known for his work as editor on many of his famous father's stories set in Middle-earth, most famously The Silmarillion. He also did work as a translator, and he was an Oxford professor like his father. But was he also an author in his own right?

Did Christopher Tolkien ever write his own stories? Or was he only an editor / translator?

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  • assuming you mean aside from any additions he made on his own to the works? (iirc he added some material to Silmarillion, and the later things that were published. I'd have to go look at the forwards and the History books to be sure on that front). So not just a new sentance or framing device to his father's work but a totally original story (even if set in Middle Earth) or Tales of Long Winded Space Monkeys by Chris Tolkien? ;)
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 19:15
  • Yeah, as far as I know his additions to Silmarillion would fall in the category of editorial work. But if I'm wrong and he actually wrote a non-negligible amount of Middle-earth material himself, that could be a good answer.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 19:19
  • There's a grandson (Christopher's son), Simon Tolkien, who's written several novels.
    – The Photon
    Commented Jan 16, 2020 at 22:56
  • 2
    The maps in LotR were largely CT's doing.
    – Spencer
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 12:13
  • @Randal'Thor - Is there a way I can improve my answer?
    – ibid
    Commented Jul 1, 2021 at 13:22

1 Answer 1

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Not really

Christopher as an academic

Christopher as a contributor to Middle-earth

  • Drew the maps for The Lord of the Rings, (and later, for The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, etc.)
  • Wrote the chapter "Of the Ruin of Doriath" for The Silmarillion.
  • Edited over twenty volumes of his father's writings.
  • For more on this topic, see Vincent Ferré's "The Son Behind the Father: Christopher Tolkien as a Writer" (The Great Tales Never End, 2022), which makes the case that Christopher should be considered a writer in his own right, and that his contributions to Middle-earth qualify as literature.

Christopher as a letter writer

Christopher Tolkien was certainly the most intelligent, most insightful, most engaging, and wittiest person I have ever had the pleasure to meet and correspond with, and I bet the same is true for many others. A “letter from Christopher” was always a special occasion of anticipation and pleasure. I of course could never match him as a correspondent, not even close; but that didn’t matter to him: he nonetheless genuinely cared about and engaged my thoughts, questions, and concerns, because we shared so many goals and concerns in common.

Carl Hofstetter

Christopher's posthumous works

It should also be known that in Christopher's will, he makes mention of (possible) unreleased writings of his which he gives the publishing rights of to his wife:

... the ownership (tangible and intangible) of all my archives, writings, manuscripts or typed documents, complete and incomplete works of my creation with task of making use of them in a way she judges appropriate in the interests of my work's moral rights, ... to take control of my archives (preparatory notes, reading notes, outlines, drawings, plans, drafts, letters or handwritten documents, typescripts, annotated manuscripts, proofs, finalised manuscripts, correspondence, electronic files, on all media ... ); ... to decide on the release and publishing of works which have not been released at the time of my death;

It is thus possible that more writing from Christopher will be published in the future.


Bibliography Sources:

(These are fairly comprehensive and help show that Christopher did not write any of his own traditional non-academic fiction books unrelated to Middle-earth.)

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