A Tribute to Christopher Tolkien

On January 16th, news hit the world that Christopher Tolkien had passed away at the age of 95.

The last defender of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works has left us and joined his father and mother in the great beyond. We wish you a safe journey, may the grey rain-curtain turn all to silver glass and roll back to behold white shores, and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.

It’s easy to take for granted everything Christopher Tolkien did for the Tolkien Estate. I know in my early days of reading Tolkien, I certainly did not hold him as high up as I did his father. After all, they were his father’s stories, but that’s the thing about Christopher Tolkien. People forget or don’t know that he was a chief editor for Tolkien’s books. As a kid he was one of the first people to read through The Hobbit and help his father craft the story. He played that same role in his teens when his father was working on The Lord of the Rings. He also helped his father draw and coordinate maps for Middle-earth. As I said, it’s easy to forget how influential he was in creating the greatest story I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

Tolkien invited his son to join The Inklings at the age of 21 (becoming the youngest member to do so), he even referred to Christopher as his “chief critic and collaborator,” and named him his literary executor in his will. When one reads Christopher’s work you’re reading the embodiment of Tolkien himself. We were blessed with more of Tolkien’s stories due to this son’s love and devotion for his father’s work. The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are successful enough but the additions of The Silmarillian, The Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-earth Series, The Children of Hurin, Beren and Luthien, and The Fall of Gondolin flesh out the details and history of Middle-earth. Please take a chance and read some of these tales. They’re Published under his father’s name but Christopher Tolkien put them together for us.

Christopher Tolkien could’ve easily published any of those works under his name but he didn’t. He dedicated his life to finishing his father’s work and providing readers with more content than could be digested.

As a Tolkien fan, I’m sad that I took this man for granted. As I got older I learned of his greatness, his love for his father, and began to fully appreciate all he did for the Tolkien Estate.

Professor Tolkien, the works of your father will never be more closely guarded with you not watching over them. As we step into this new age of the Tolkien Estate, I doubt we’ll have a leader who revered your father’s works as much as you do.

For that reason alone we should all say thank you for your time, your effort, and your heart. My world would be completely different having never read your works.

Thank you, Christopher Tolkien.

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