”I am very busy and have little time to spare if I am ever to put ready for publication the sequel to The Lord of the Rings...”
SIGNED LETTER BY J.R.R. TOLKIEN REFERRING TO A POSSIBLE SEQUEL TO THE LORD OF THE RINGS.
Written from Tolkien’s Sandfield Road (Oxford) residence and addressed to Miss Miriam P. Hirsch of 677 West End Avenue, New York, NY, the letter, dated 16th April, 1962, reads in full:
Dear Miss Hirsch,
I am very sorry that my answer to your letter has been so long delayed.
Thank you very much for writing to me. I am very pleased to hear that my works have given pleasure but I hope you will excuse me from writing more now. I am very busy and have little time to spare if I am ever to put ready for publication the sequel to The Lord of the Rings which I am being pressed to produce.
After the success of The Hobbit (1937), Tolkien’s publishers (Allen and Unwin) requested he work on a sequel, which would, of course become the epic Lord of the Rings (1954-55). It was no wonder, then, that after the immense popularity of the Lord of the Rings Tolkien was implored to continue the saga of Middle Earth in the form of another sequel. In 1962, at the time of this letter, he was contemplating the direction of his new work and in this letter is most likely referring to what was to become known as “The New Shadow”, a story, unfortunately, that would remain unfinished.
Tolkien explained the fate of “The New Shadow” in a letter from 1964 to Colin Bailey:
I did begin a story placed about 100 years after the Downfall [of Mordor], but it proved both sinister and depressing. Since we are dealing with Men it is inevitable that we should be concerned with the most regrettable feature of their nature: their quick satiety with good. So that the people of Gondor in times of peace, justice and prosperity, would become discontented and restless–while the dynasts descended from Aragorn would become just kings and governors–like Denethor or worse. I found that even so early there was an outcrop of revolutionary plots, about a centre of secret Satanistic religion; while Gondorian boys were playing at being Orcs and going round doing damage. I could have written a ‘thriller’ about the blog and its discovery and overthrow–but it would be just that. Not worth doing. (Carpenter, ed. Letters, 344).
One page (8x10 inches). Headington, Oxford: April 16, 1962. Archivally matted and framed with a photo of Tolkien in the woods to an overall size of 13.75 x 21. Usual mailing folds, otherwise fine.
Price: $8,500 .