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This collection of essays, family stories, and archival documents sheds new light on Christopher Tolkien’s contributions to the Tolkien legendarium.
Over more than four decades, J. R. R. Tolkien’s son and literary executor Christopher Tolkien completed some twenty-four volumes of his father’s work, much more than his father had succeeded in publishing during his own lifetime. Thanks to Christopher’s extraordinary publishing efforts and scholarship, readers today can survey and understand the vast landscape of Tolkien’s legendarium.

The Great Tales Never End sheds new light on J. R. R. Tolkien’s work and the debt owed to Christopher by the many Tolkien scholars who were privileged to work with him. Essays by world-renowned scholars and Tolkien family reminiscences offer unique insights into the publication process. What was Tolkien’s intended ending for The Lord of the Rings, and did it leave echoes in the stripped-down version that was actually published? What was the audience’s response to the first-ever adaptation of The Lord of the Rings—a radio dramatization that has now been deleted forever from the BBC’s archives?

The book is illustrated with color reproductions of J. R. R. Tolkien’s manuscripts, maps, drawings, and letters, as well as photographs of Christopher Tolkien and extracts from his works. Many of these documents have never been seen before, making this volume essential reading for Tolkien scholars, readers, and fans.

240 pages | 51 color plates | 6 1/4 x 9 1/4 | © 2022

Literature and Literary Criticism: British and Irish Literature

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“Ovenden, head of the Bodleian Library, and Tolkien archivist McIlwaine take an illuminating look in this superior anthology at the work of J.R.R. Tolkien’s son Christopher (1924–2020), who played a major part in his father’s literary legacy. . . . Taken together, the pieces are a great testament to what Christopher’s ‘extraordinary editorial efforts have brought to light.’ This is a must-read for fans of Tolkien’s classic epic fantasies.”

Pubilshers Weekly

"Christopher Tolkien (1924-2020) prepared The Silmarillion for its publication 45 years ago, following that essential book with over 20 books of the greatest interest to scholars and enthusiasts for Middle-earth and the Elder Days. The present book gathers new papers from top Tolkien experts, in Christopher’s honor."

The Bulletin of the New York C.S. Lewis Society

Table of Contents

1 Catherine McIlwaine
2 Maxime H. Pascal
Eulogy delivered at Christopher Tolkien’s funeral
3 Priscilla Tolkien
A Personal Memory
4 Vincent Ferré
The Son Behind the Father: Christopher Tolkien as a Writer
5 Verlyn Flieger
Listening to the Music
6 John Garth
The Chronology of Creation: How J.R.R. Tolkien Misremembered the Beginnings of his Mythology
7 Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull
‘I Wisely Started with a Map’: J.R.R. Tolkien as Cartographer
8 Carl F. Hostetter
Editing the Tolkienian Manuscript
9 Stuart D. Lee
A Milestone in BBC History? The 1955-56 Radio Dramatization of The Lord of the Rings
10 Tom Shippey
King Sheave and The Lost Road
11 Brian Sibley
Down from the door where it began… Portal images in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings
Bibliography for Christopher Tolkien
About the Contributors
Further Reading
Picture Credits

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