Jan 18, 5:22pm
I got a glimpse of the man's sharp wit as well as his profound intelligence.... he seemed to suffer this fool prattling on enthusiastically
That's what I will remember,: his wit, his intellect, and above all his kindness. (As well as extraordinary skill at saying "no" politely and without giving the least offense.)
I suppose now I can lift my embargo at least to the extent of his very first letter to me, since it says nothing private, copyrighted or indeed that isn't common knowledge.
c/o George Allen & Unwin Ltd.
40 Museum Street
London WC1A 1LU
15 August 1975
Dear Master Hicklin,
Thankyou for your letter. I must reply to your
questions very briefly, but I hope you will find the answers
adequate. I cannot tell you precisely when The Silmarillion
will be published, but I think certainly not before 1977, and
I very much hope by 1978. You ask when it was begun, and
that is a very difficult question; in a sense, it occupied
my father all his life, and much of the myth and legend that
it contains were in being before even the Hobbit was written.
A full life of my father is being written which will tell you
a good deal about it, and that will be published, I hope,
You also ask about the geography of the Elder Days.
The Silmarillion has very little to say about the lands of
Middle-earth west [sic] of Ered Luin, the Blue Mountains. Its
narrative is concerned with the Elves in Aman (the land of
the Valar in the West, over the Great Sea) and in Beleriand.
the region of Middle-earth between the shores of the Sea and
the Blue Mountains. Almost all this region was drowned,
and all that was left in later times was the country of Lindon,
which is marked on the Lord of the Rings map west of the Blue
Mountains. Thus Gondolin, Nargothrond and Thangorodrim
were in regions that had long since passed under the sea at
the time of the War of the Rings.
The Silmarillion will contain a map of the whole of
Beleriand, extending from the shores of the Sea in the west,
to Thangorodrim in the North, and to the Ered Luin in the east.
The book will also contain some texts other than the Silmarillion
proper, such as The Akallabêth, the Drowning of Númenor.
[calligraphic signature done with a square nib]
There is nothing remarkable about this at all, except for one thing: he wrote it. Notwithstanding his immense literary labours, and the fact that (as he told me long after) he was in fact packing house for the move to France at the time, he nonetheless took the time to sit down and type up specific answers to the importunate questions of an American 13-year-old.
Do you have any idea how few other authors would bother?