Friday, January 3, 2014

Celebrating J. R. R. Tolkien's twelvety-second birthday

Today is the birthday of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, who was born on January 3, 1892, in Bloemfontein, Orange Free State.

This is the third year in a row of marking the author's birthday here. Here are the previous posts, which are chock-full of groovy stuff:

Pictured at right are the spines from Houghton Mifflin Company's 1965 hardcover boxed set of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

For this year's celebration, here are links to some off-the-beaten-path Tolkien-related material:

  • In 1966, Gene Deitch made a 12-minute "ashcan" film of The Hobbit so that producer William Snyder could extend his license on Tolkien material and then sell his lucrative option on The Lord of the Rings for a tidy profit. That's the short version, anyway. Read Deitch's memories of the bizarre experience and, if you dare, you can watch the "movie" on YouTube.
  • Speaking of bizarre, here's a LOTR-related correction and then a correction to the correction, as detailed by Gawker. Excerpt: "Most importantly, Aragorn is not 'one-quarter elf.' It's entirely unclear where this description comes from; Aragorn's closest full-Elvish forebear, Idril Celebrindal, is some sixty-odd generations away."
  • In 1938, a Berlin publishing house was interested in translating The Hobbit for the German market. It was also interested in knowing whether the author was entirely of Aryan descent and could prove it. To see how it turned out, see this post on Letters of Note. A few years later, by the way, Tolkien referred to Adolf Hitler as a "ruddy little ignoramus."


  1. That font looks like Harry Potter, not LotR

    1. Interesting point. I kind of see what you're saying. But given that these hardcovers were published in 1965, which is also the same year that J.K. Rowling was BORN, I think "firsties" go to the LOTR designers. Perhaps, many decades later, when seeking dust jacket inspiration, the Potter book designers perused some of the 1960s-riffic Tolkien cover designs?