It's well known that Tolkien intended for Lord of the Rings to be a single volume, but the publisher insisted on making it a trilogy because of the practical factors involved in publishing such a mammoth book (such as the price of paper, etc).

Did Tolkien make any changes to his manuscript, after it was decided that it would be published in three parts? Did he move anything around to fit it into one volume vs another, or alter the pacing or the story at all to fit the new structure? Or did they basically just chop it in two places, but otherwise leave it untouched?

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    From what I have been able to glean, he originally wrote it in six books, which at least as of 15 years ago were still in-tact. The series is published as a trilogy, but within each physical book there was a division of two books. And that was the division of the trilogy. I have no historical data, just that the copy I owned in high school was this way. – Dave Johnson Jun 5 '14 at 18:31
  • @DaveJohnson --- I have a 1990 edition which is divided in this way. The final chapters of the odd numbered books are Flight to the Ford, The Palantir, and The Black Gate Opens. The even numbered books finish at the end of the volumes. – Ian Thompson Jun 5 '14 at 19:53
  • (Changing answer to comment, per @MeatTrademark's suggestion) To find a definitive answer to this, I'd need to check in the "History of Middle Earth", volumes 6 - 9, which cover the entire process of Tolkien's creation of The Lord of the Rings. My understanding is that this was a publisher decision, which was made after Tolkien's last corrections were accepted; therefore, this decision solely related to layout. There were, as far as I know, no changes Tolkien made (or the publisher requested his input on) by the time the "three-volume" decision was made. – Matt Gutting Jun 6 '14 at 2:19
  • The publisher didn't insist on a trilogy. They insisted on publishing it in three volumes. – chepner Feb 1 at 18:07
  • @chepner That is the very definition of "a distinction without a difference." It's obvious what the question is asking, and within that context "publishing it in three volumes" and "a trilogy" are the exact same thing. Plus the question is six years old and already has an accepted answer, so this hair-splitting contributes nothing to the discussion. – Nerrolken Feb 1 at 22:03

Lord of the Rings was written as six "books", so a division into three (of two "books" each) was made for publication purposes.

As published each book (aside from the first) contained an introductory paragraph summarising the story so far, and (aside from the last) a concluding paragraph describing events to follow, but there's no evidence in History of Middle-Earth (HoME) as to who wrote this text.

There's also no evidence as to any other changes that may have been made. What we do know is that work on RotK, particularly the abandoned index and the appendices, was the primary cause of it appearing somewhat later, but from HoME we can tell that the actual structure of the story remained intact.

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    HoME? Heroes of Middle Earth? (Could be a good game...) – Izkata Jun 5 '14 at 23:51
  • @Izkata: History of Middle-earth: amazon.com/s/… (I assume from your history that you know this and you're asking for the benefit of those who may not). – user8719 Jun 5 '14 at 23:55
  • No, I did not. I'm not much of a Tolkien fan and only know the LotR movies – Izkata Jun 6 '14 at 0:35
  • Did he come up with the titles for each volume? Or was that the publisher too? – TGnat Jun 6 '14 at 3:46
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    @TGnat - Letters shows that Tolkien himself came up with the titles, after much experimentation with alternatives. His own preferred title for Vol 3 was actually The War of the Ring (Letter 140) because (1) it gets the Ring in again, and (2) it doesn't contain spoilers for how the story ends, but it seems that the publisher (Rayner Unwin, specifically) preferred Return of the King, which Tolkien had offered as a second choice. – user8719 Jul 2 '14 at 20:51

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