I read that Tolkien didn't want to make the Lord of the Rings three books, and that the only

"natural divisions are the 'books' I-VI (which originally had titles)"

What are those titles?

2 Answers 2


I just found this in the Letters of JRR Tolkien, letter 137:

  1. The Ring sets out
  2. The Ring goes south
  3. The Treason of Isengard
  4. The Ring goes East
  5. The War of the Ring
  6. The End of the Third Age
  • Also in Wikipedia
    – tugs
    May 1, 2013 at 19:00
  • 5
    +1; this is correct but it should be added that the titles were just suggestions to the publisher and were never formally agreed for use; the original publication was without titles.
    – user8719
    May 1, 2013 at 19:55
  • 5
    I have a 7 volume "Millennium" edition box set (see mytolkienbooks.com/books-by-tolkien/middle-earth-related/…) that uses these titles for volumes 1-6 plus the appendices. The top of the spines of the books spells out T O L K I E N
    – Gerry Coll
    May 2, 2013 at 11:35
  • 1
    I gotta say, those are droll titles. I'm glad he just went with books I-VI
    – The Fallen
    May 2, 2013 at 13:14
  • I have the same set as Gerry and I have to say it makes a much more natural division.
    – Ron Smith
    May 2, 2013 at 16:00

Footnote 1 of the "Note on the Text" in the 1987 edition (and later editions?) of The Fellowship of the Ring:

Tolkien's titles for the six books were not used. A contents listing with the manuscript of The Lord of the Rings at Marquette University gives them as follows: Volume I, "The First Journey" and "The Journey of the Nine Companions"; Volume II, "The Treason of Isengard" and "The Journey of the Ringbearers"; Volume III, "The War of the Ring" and "The End of the Third Age." A variant set of titles can be found in Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, p. 167.

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