It is with great sadness that we can confirm that Tolkien’s son and literary executor Christopher Tolkien has died aged 95.
Christopher was born in Leeds, United Kingdom, on 21 November 1924. After a childhood in Oxford, he joined the RAF during the Second World War and was stationed to South Africa. After the war, he finished his studies and became a lecturer in Old and Middle English as well as Old Icelandic at the University of Oxford. After his father’s death in 1973, he became the literary executor of the Tolkien Estate and went on to edit and publish his father’s unpublished material starting with The Silmarillion in 1977 and ending with The Fall of Gondolin in 2018.
Upon hearing the news, Tolkien Society Chair, Shaun Gunner, said:
All of us in the Tolkien Society will share in the sadness at the news of Christopher Tolkien’s death, and we send our condolences to Baillie, Simon, Adam, Rachel and the whole Tolkien family at this difficult time. Christopher’s commitment to his father’s works have seen dozens of publications released, and his own work as an academic in Oxford demonstrates his ability and skill as a scholar. Millions of people around the world will be forever grateful to Christopher for bringing us The Silmarillion, The Children of Húrin, The History of Middle-earth series and many others. We have lost a titan and he will be sorely missed.
Those of us who remain in and of The West owe this man and his legacy a debt that can’t even be calculated. My previous thoughts on Mr. Tolkien:
“Here, I pause to credit the masterful dedication of Christopher T. in revising, editing, and publishing so much we would otherwise miss. He says, and I believe him, that this is his finale. Then again, he hinted as much when Beren hit the shelves. If this is his end, the end of 70+ year tenure as vice-regent of Middle Earth, so to speak, he’s more than earned the retirement (and all the honor and gratitude we can heap on him). Thank you, Sir!” – TPC, Dec. 2018
“Some of you have read perhaps the short version of the story in the Silmarillion. From that work also came The Children of Hurin, which was released ten years prior to B&L. Christopher Tolkien’s editing and narration skills have increased dramatically since 1977 (and I never shared the contemporary criticism of his work, then). This book will be excellent.” – PL.me, June 2017
There was, in the seventies and early eighties, a narrow sentiment that Christopher had somehow “botched” the editing of the later works. Nothing was or could be further from the truth. But for his dedication we would still be ignorant of so much that lay behind the Hobbits.
In happier news, the Inklings have reconvened, in full, once again in loftier accommodation.