A letter to a friend: The King’s Letter’ as para-text in The Lord of the Rings

— Andrew Higgins, independent scholar

Paper given 4 September 2021 at the 3rd day of Oxonmoot 2021

The King’s Letter’ is a para-textual element composed by Tolkien as part of the original Epilogue to his The Lord of the Rings — sadly cut from the final book. In this letter, composed entirely in Tolkien’s invented Elvish language of Sindarin, King Elessar — in the 16th year of the Fourth Age of Middle-earth — sends greetings to his good friend and colleague Samwise Gamgee and his family. In the letter, King Elessar informs Sam that he will be travelling close to the borders of the Shire and would like to meet with him. The cut Epilogue with a version of the Kings Letter’ appeared in the ninth volume of The History of Middle-earth: Sauron Defeated with two other variations — as well as a specimen in the Elvish writing system of Tengwar — appearing in other sources. In this paper I will briefly explore the importance of the Kings Letter’ in Tolkien’s world-building from a lit and lang’ perspective.

Authoritative information may be found here.

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date recorded 📅2022-01-25
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