[On February 11, Unwin reported that his son Rayner was ‘delighted with the first chapter’ of the new story.]
18 February 1938
Dear Mr Unwin,
I am most grateful to your son Rayner; and am encouraged. At the same time I find it only too easy to write opening chapters – and for the moment the story is not unfolding. I have unfortunately very little time, made shorter by a rather disasterous Christmas vacation. I squandered so much on the original ‘Hobbit’ (which was not meant to have a sequel) that it is difficult to find anything new in that world.
Mr C. S. Lewis tells me you have allowed him to submit to you ‘Out of the Silent Planet’. I read it, of course; and I have since heard it pass a rather different test: that of being read aloud to our local club (which goes in for reading things short and long aloud). It proved an exciting serial, and was highly approved. But of course we are all rather like-minded.
It is only by an odd accident that the hero is a philologist (one point in which he resembles me) and has your name.1 The latter detail could I am sure be altered: I do not believe it has any special significance.
We originally meant each to write an excursionary ‘Thriller’: a Space-journey and a Time-journey (mine) each discovering Myth.2 But the Space-journey has been finished, and the Time-journey remains owing to my slowness and uncertainty only a fragment, as you know.3
J. R. R. Tolkien.
1. This indicates that in the original draft of Out of the Silent Planet the hero was named Unwin; in the published book his name is Ransom. 2. For another account of this, see no. 294. 3. Tolkien’s unfinished story of time-travel, ‘The Lost Road’, was shown to Allen & Unwin in November 1937, and was returned by them with the comment that it did not seem likely, even if it was finished, to be a commercial success. For a description of the story, see no. 257, and Biography pp. 170-1.