Tolkien, A Son and A Father’s Legacy

Recently the first ever press interview with Christopher Tolkien, son of J. R. R. Tolkien and the official executor of J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate, was published (the link takes you to an even more recent translation of the interview into English). The headline makes much of Christopher Tolkien’s displeasure with Peter Jackson’s movie interpretations, but what I found most intriguing was the story of a father’s affection for his son and the son’s labors to preserve and advance the work of his father. It is a beautiful story of father-son interaction and devotion.

As those familiar with the works of Tolkien will know, it is to Christopher Tolkien that we are indebted for The Simarillion and other published pieces of the story of Middle Earth. When J. R. R. Tolkien died his unpublished work was a mass of scattered and unorganized papers. Christopher resigned his faculty position in Old English at New College Oxford and threw himself full time into editing the work of his father and preserving and advancing his legacy. As the article states: “One thing is certain: from father to son, a great part of the work of J.R.R. Tolkien has now emerged from its boxes, thanks to the infinite perseverance of his son.”

This devotion was fired by the father sharing his stories with his son.

“Christopher Tolkien’s oldest memories were attached to the story of the beginnings[The Silmarillion], which his father would share with the children. ‘As strange as it may seem, I grew up in the world he created,’ he explains. ‘For me, the cities of The Silmarillion are more real than Babylon.’”

Fathers, none of us are J. R. R. Tolkien, but we do have great stories to pass down, especially The Great Story of redemption. This article encourages me to press on in passing down the stories of the Bible and of God’s faithfulness in our family’s life, allowing my children to see what these stories mean to me in hopes that they will own these stories as well. It reminds me that we are always inhabiting a story. The question is simply, “What story?” I want to be providing the parameters of great stories so that my family can inhabit and be formed by them.

(Also posted at The Children’s Hour)


  1. Thanks for posting these excerpts.

    “I want to be providing the parameters of great stories so that my family can inhabit and be formed by them.”

    Love this reflection. Thanks for sharing.

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