20         To C. A. Furth, Allen & Unwin


[On 17 December, Furth wrote to Tolkien: ‘The demand for The Hobbit became so acute with the beginning of the Christmas orders that we had to rush the reprint through….At the last minute the crisis was so acute that we fetched part of the reprint from our printers in Woking in a private car.’]

19 December 1937                                    20 Northmoor Road, Oxford

Dear Mr Furth,

Thank you for the account of recent events with regard to ‘the Hobbit’. It sounds quite exciting.

I have received four copies of the new impression charged to me, as ordered in my letter to Mr Unwin. I think the coloured pictures have come out well . . . I am sorry that the Eagle picture (to face p. 118) is not included – merely because I should have liked to see it reproduced. I marvel that four can have been included without raising the price. Perhaps the Americans will use it? Odd folk . . .

I have written the first chapter of a new story about Hobbits – ‘A long expected party’.1 A merry Christmas.

                            Yrs sincerely

                                 J. R. R. Tolkien.


[P.S.] . . . Mr Arthur Ransome2 objects to man on p. 27 (line 7 from end). Read fellow as in earlier rescension? He also objects to more men on p. 294 l. 11. Read more of us? Men with a capital is, I think, used in text when ‘human kind’ are specifically intended.; and man, men with a miniscule are occasionally and loosely used as ‘adult male’ and ‘people’. But perhaps, although this can be mythologically defended (and is according to Anglo-Saxon usage!), it may be as well to avoid raising mythological issues outside the story. Mr Ransome also seems not to like Gandalf’s use of boys on p. 112 (lines 11, 13). But, though I agree that his insult was rather silly and not quite up to form, I do not think anything can be done about it now. Unless oaves would do? JRRT.




1. For an account of the first draft of the opening chapter of The Lord of the Rings, see Biography p. 185. 2. Arthur Ransome, whose books were much admired by Tolkien’s children, wrote to Tolkien, describing himself as a ‘humble hobbit fancier’, and complaining about Gandalf’s use of the term ‘excitable little man’ as a description of Bilbo. He cited other, similar uses of ‘man’ or ‘men’ to describe dwarves and goblins.