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How did Prof. Tolkien write?

yorkey
Registered User

Jan 1 2013, 10:06pm

Post #1 of 23 (517 views)
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How did Prof. Tolkien write? Can't Post

Did Professor Tolkien write with pen on paper, or did he use a typewriter? Or, did he prefer Microsoft Word 2010?

Just wondering. Considering the sheer magnitude of what he wrote, it must've been incredibly tiring to write with pen and paper.


Ardamírë
Valinor


Jan 1 2013, 10:26pm

Post #2 of 23 (283 views)
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Generally pen and paper, I think [In reply to] Can't Post

He would also type up manuscripts, but I think mostly he wrote original stuff with pen and paper.

Don't quote me, though! geordie could probably answer this question much better than me.

There's a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall and the bells in the steeple, too.
And up in the nursery an absurd little bird is popping out to say coo-coo (coo-coo, coo-coo).


geordie
Tol Eressea

Jan 1 2013, 10:32pm

Post #3 of 23 (292 views)
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That would depend - [In reply to] Can't Post

When composing his thoughts, Tolkien would usually write with a pencil, sometimes dashing them down so quickly that they are hard to read. Sometimes he'd write over these jottings with pen and ink - a dip pen, often as not.

When writing letters, he'd sometimes write longhand - beautifully scripted letters. Or sometimes he'd type - he liked typewriters, and owned several over the years. He had one with a typeface which could make Anglo-Saxon letters; Christopher has that now, I believe.

Sometimes while writing he'd make little sketches to help him visualize what he was making up - for example, there was a page of his text on display at the Bodleian Library some time ago, written over and around a large coloured picture of Shelob''s lair, with the tower of Cirith Ungol set against a red glow, and (a lovely touch, this) - a small cross-section of the mountains, showing the rainfall - to help him visualize the manner of the streams and waterways of that part of Mordor, I guess.

Tolkien would make up 'fair copies' of what he was working on; either by longhand or typed. Sometimes Edith or Priscilla would do the typing for him. But most often, Tolkien used to like writing with a pen - he once wrote to a friend that he'd just gotten over a hand injury, and not being able to use a pen was as defeating to him as 'the loss of a beak to a hen'.

*edit - thanks for the kind words, Ardamire. Smile


(This post was edited by geordie on Jan 1 2013, 10:36pm)


Ardamírë
Valinor


Jan 1 2013, 10:41pm

Post #4 of 23 (252 views)
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I knew you wouldn't let me down, geordie [In reply to] Can't Post

Smile

Thanks for the long explanation. There was quite a bit in there I didn't know. Most of my knowledge of Tolkien comes from HoME, so I especially didn't know about the letters.

There's a sad sort of clanging from the clock in the hall and the bells in the steeple, too.
And up in the nursery an absurd little bird is popping out to say coo-coo (coo-coo, coo-coo).


geordie
Tol Eressea

Jan 1 2013, 10:45pm

Post #5 of 23 (243 views)
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You're welcome [In reply to] Can't Post

 Smile


(This post was edited by geordie on Jan 1 2013, 10:49pm)


geordie
Tol Eressea

Jan 1 2013, 10:47pm

Post #6 of 23 (269 views)
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Here's that page of Tolkien manuscript - [In reply to] Can't Post

- it was part of an exhibition called 'The Romance of the Middle Ages -

http://medievalromance.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/J_R_R_Tolkien_The_Lord_of_the_Rings

- it's pretty wonderful.

Smile


entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 1 2013, 10:57pm

Post #7 of 23 (269 views)
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Depending on where anyone lives, [In reply to] Can't Post

you can view microfiche copies of the original archives at Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. They have a small permanent exhibit, but if you call ahead, the staff at the Raynor Library are very helpful and will show you whatever you want.

It's a definite must-see!


Starling
Half-elven


Jan 2 2013, 12:09am

Post #8 of 23 (221 views)
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That was really interesting [In reply to] Can't Post

thank you. Smile


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Jan 2 2013, 1:09am

Post #9 of 23 (276 views)
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There appear to be rust stains [In reply to] Can't Post

from paper clips on the page. Must be due to those damp English winters. How charming... thanks geordie. Smile


(This post was edited by SirDennisC on Jan 2 2013, 1:11am)


silneldor
Half-elven


Jan 2 2013, 1:59am

Post #10 of 23 (227 views)
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geordie, didn't he write on anything he could get a hold of, [In reply to] Can't Post

that was paper? Being it wartime and the shortages of just everything? There were the stories of his 'garage office' had all kinds of paper scraps with notes on them i believe.















zarabia
Tol Eressea


Jan 2 2013, 3:28am

Post #11 of 23 (204 views)
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I remember reading that, too [In reply to] Can't Post

The only HoME books I read completely - and it's been a while - were The Return of the Shadow, The Treason of Isengard, and The War of the Ring; somewhere in one or all of these, Christopher Tolkien mentions that paper supplies during the war were so tight that his father would even write some of his early drafts over essays his students had written. That's dedication to writing!

"The question isn't where, Constable, but when." - Inspector Spacetime


zarabia
Tol Eressea


Jan 2 2013, 3:35am

Post #12 of 23 (208 views)
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Oh wow! Love the drawing, too! // [In reply to] Can't Post

 

"The question isn't where, Constable, but when." - Inspector Spacetime


grammaboodawg
Immortal


Jan 2 2013, 4:03am

Post #13 of 23 (210 views)
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Someday! Someday... *sigh* // [In reply to] Can't Post

 


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geordie
Tol Eressea

Jan 2 2013, 7:21am

Post #14 of 23 (196 views)
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the exhibition catalogue [In reply to] Can't Post

also has a picture of the unique(?) Gawain manuscript; and also a picture of CS Lewis's copy of Tolkien and Gordon's 1925 edition, on a page of which lewis has drawn a sketch of a suit of armour. Remember 'knitted'?

Smile


geordie
Tol Eressea

Jan 2 2013, 7:25am

Post #15 of 23 (196 views)
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Yes, John Rateliff [In reply to] Can't Post

said in a talk that once, when Christopher was examining some scraps, he pointed out to John that some of them had come from Tolkien's friends and colleagues. For example, some had the handwriting of Nevill Coghill, and some that of CS Lewis. JRR must have gone round his mates, asking for any scraps they had.

Smile


geordie
Tol Eressea

Jan 2 2013, 7:27am

Post #16 of 23 (212 views)
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Me, too. [In reply to] Can't Post

Evil


Ethel Duath
Valinor


Jan 2 2013, 5:14pm

Post #17 of 23 (174 views)
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A window on his world. [In reply to] Can't Post

Thanks, Geordie!

I wonder if we've lost something with all our word processors, of the almost tactile sense of forming words and phrases as works of art.

And the way Tolkien brought actual art right into his working text says a lot, I think. I wonder if he often "saw" things in pictures before he wrote them, or if the words came first more often than not, and then created the scenes in his mind? Or both at once.

It would be an interesting question to ask authors in general that sort of chicken and egg question; or even if most authors even notice which they tend to do first.

Hmmmm


entmaiden
Forum Admin / Moderator


Jan 2 2013, 5:22pm

Post #18 of 23 (170 views)
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Gramma, you have no excuse [In reply to] Can't Post

Just name the weekend, and you can stay with me and we'll go. I'm less than 90 miles from Marquette, so it's an easy day trip. The next day we'll go to Wheaton College (in the Chicago suburbs) and see the Professor's desk, then you can head back home. Smile


geordie
Tol Eressea

Jan 2 2013, 6:03pm

Post #19 of 23 (176 views)
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I don't know - [In reply to] Can't Post

- Tolkien loved words. And names - he once said in an interview 'I always start with a name. Give me a name and the story follows, not the other way round.' Alternatively, Lewis said the idea for 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe' came from a picture he'd had in mind from a young age, of a faun carrying parcels in a snowy wood.

The interesting thing about these two is that neither were 'professional' writers - not in the sense of, say, Dickens, or H.G. Wells. I mean; they didn't sit down with a blank sheet of paper thinking 'I've got to come up with something!' - they both had the idea that as no-one wrote the kind of books they liked, they ought to write them themselves.


SirDennisC
Half-elven


Jan 2 2013, 6:55pm

Post #20 of 23 (167 views)
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Now that you mention it, a debt is owed [In reply to] Can't Post

I do believe this discussion from February 2012 was the seed of our little game A Middle English Vocabulary Challenge...

(I thought the manuscript page looked familiar! How time does fly... many thanks to you again my friend.)


Rane
Bree

Jan 3 2013, 2:51am

Post #21 of 23 (138 views)
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I went there. [In reply to] Can't Post

One of the people said something about him writing better at night I think? Or was it day? Either way you are right about his handwriting being more or less legible.


geordie
Tol Eressea

Jan 3 2013, 6:37am

Post #22 of 23 (132 views)
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You're welcome. What's more - [In reply to] Can't Post

- I recall Tolkien saying that he'd typed out the whole of LotR twice, on a bed in an attic - because he couldn't afford professional typists. (there were folk in Oxford - mainly women I guess - who made a living by typing out academic theses and whatnot).


geordie
Tol Eressea

Jan 3 2013, 4:02pm

Post #23 of 23 (132 views)
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A bit more - [In reply to] Can't Post

- you mention Tolkien's 'garage/office' - well of course that was the arrangement he had at Sandfield Rd, where he and Edith lived between 1953 and 1968 (IIRC). During the war, ie up to 1945, Tolkien had a proper study, in his house on Northmoor Road.

However; the thing is that of course those wartime scraps would have been in the study-garage: somewhere or other. Along with all his diaries and other papers. Tolkien seems to have thrown away very little. One thing that moved me very much at an exhibition back in 1992 was a letter which he'd kept from the mother of one of the batmen who looked after Tolkien and his fellow officers during WWI, asking whether Lt. Tolkien could tell her anything of her son's death. Tolkien had kept that letter through all his house moves, from 1916 until his own death in 1973. He never threw it away. I guess he never forgot the ones who didn't come home.


(This post was edited by geordie on Jan 3 2013, 4:03pm)

 
 

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