Christopher Tolkien Passes Into The Undying Lands, Dies At Age 95

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BY January 16, 2020

Christopher Tolkien, the son of author J.R.R. Tolkien died on Thursday at the age of 95. Christopher was the third and youngest son of the legendary fantasy author, and the literary executor of the Tolkien estate. He also helped edit and publish much of Tolkien’s posthumous works such as The Silmarillion and The Children of Hurin.

Christopher Gave Us So Much Of What We Know About Middle-Earth

Christopher Tolkien was born in Leeds to John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and his wife Edith in 1924. He and his siblings were the primary audience for their father’s stories about Hobbits who lived under a hill. Christopher also served in the Royal Air Force during World War II. He studied English at Trinity College in Oxford, later serving as a Professor of Old English, Middle English, and Icelandic.

Christopher was involved with his father’s work from an early age, as the first audience for first The Hobbit and afterwards The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Christopher was the one who drew the maps for Middle-Earth, and helped clarify much of its geography. At the age of 21, Christopher joined Tolkien’s famous literary society The Inklings.

After his father’s death in 1973, Christopher took over the Tolkien estate where he edited and published a number of his father’s unseen works. It is due to Christopher’s hard work that the world has the amount of Lord of the Rings material that can be used for adaptation into various films and television shows that we have today (or are forthcoming).

In Memory of Christopher Tolkien (1923-2020)

Christopher Tolkien Image via The Tolkien Society

Christopher Tolkien received the Bodley Medal for individuals who make “outstanding contributions to the worlds of communication and literature” in 2016. He served as the director of the Tolkien Estate until 2017.

In memory of Christopher Tolkien, here is one of the stirring poems about life and death that his father published in his epic fantasy series that has influenced all of us so much. Rest in peace, Christopher, and safe journey through the Grey Havens.

In western lands beneath the Sun
the flowers may rise in Spring,
the trees may bud, the waters run,
the merry finches sing.
Or there maybe ’tis cloudless night
and swaying beeches bear
the Elven-stars as jewels white
amid their branching hair.
Though here at journey’s end I lie
in darkness buried deep,
beyond all towers strong and high,
beyond all mountains steep,
above all shadows rides the Sun
and Stars for ever dwell:
I will not say the Day is done,
nor bid the Stars farewell.

(J.R.R. Tolkien from The Return of the King)

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(Featured image via Wikimedia Commons)

 

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Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.

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