New Additions to the J.R.R. Tolkien Collection

January 2016 — The Department of Special Collections and University Archives is pleased to announce the acquisition of two handwritten pieces of correspondence by J. R. R. Tolkien.

Letter from J. R. R. Tolkien to William B. Ready, Whitsunday (June 9), 1957

William Ready, former Library Director at Marquette University, was responsible for purchasing the manuscript collection from Professor Tolkien in 1957. In this letter, Tolkien discusses an anticipated visit to Marquette, and he comments on the reception of The Lord of the Rings by the Catholic press in Britain. Ready retained possession of this 2-page letter when he departed Marquette in 1963. Tolkien scholar Taum Santoski later acquired the letter from Ready. In subsequent years, it came into the possession of Santoski’s friend, Mr. Jeff Hardin of West Virginia. Last June, The Antiques Roadshow featured this letter on a program taped in the city of Charleston, West Virginia.

Mr. Hardin agreed to sell the letter to Marquette. The purchase price is confidential, but it was significantly less than Mr. Hardin might have obtained through an auction house such as Christie’s or Sotheby’s. The department is grateful to Mr. Hardin for parting with the letter on such generous terms, done in memory of his old friend, Taum Santoski.

Letter from J. R. R. Tolkien to Rachael Feichtmeir, December 21, 1955

This 2-page letter has been donated to Marquette’s collection by Rachael Balyeat of California, who, as a young fan, had written to Professor Tolkien in September 1955 during the anxious interval between publication of The Two Towers and The Return of the King. By year’s end, Tolkien responded to her enthusiastic questions with this delightful piece of correspondence in which Tolkien offers interesting insights into his writing process.

Marquette has also acquired a copy of Ms. Balyeat’s letter to Tolkien from the Tolkien Archives at the Bodleian Libraries, Oxford, where the original resides among Tolkien’s incoming correspondence. Visitors to the archives in Marquette’s Raynor Library can enjoy reading the two letters side-by-side.

If you have any questions about these letters or the J. R. R. Tolkien Collection at Marquette, please direct them to the collection’s curator, William Fliss ( Public showings of selected original manuscripts are held every two months. View more information, visit the public showings page.

William Ready, Library Director
William Ready, the Marquette library director who, in 1957, purchased the Tolkien manuscript collection.