Christopher Tolkien, Son of J.R.R. Tolkien and ‘First Scholar’ of Middle-Earth, Dies at 95
by Theresa Machemer/Smithsonianmag.com
As the youngest son of beloved fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien was raised hearing fantastical tales of Bilbo Baggins and Middle-earth. When his father died in 1973, the younger Tolkien became his literary executor. Over the next 47 years, Christopher sorted through 70 boxes of Tolkien’s unpublished work; ultimately, he compiled and edited 24 editions of poems, histories, translations and stories centered on his father’s expansive fantasy world.
Christopher died Wednesday in Provence, France, report Katharine Q. Seelye and Alan Yuhas for the New York Times. He was 95.
Per the Times, Christopher’s first editing project was a tome of myths and legends from the world of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Building on a 12-volume compilation of drafts and rewrites left by his father, he published The Silmarillion in 1977.
“This opened up a wealth and depth of Tolkien’s imaginative world that was breathtaking,” Tolkien expert Corey Olsen tells the Times.
In total, three-quarters of Tolkien’s works were published posthumously. Of these post-1973 collections, around three-quarters were edited by his son. The most recent addition to the author’s oeuvre, The Fall of Gondolin, was published in August 2018 but originally written more than a century earlier, when Tolkien was recovering from trench fever in 1917.