JRR Tolkien letter sells at auction

Posted by Alistair McIntyre, on March 28 2019 in: News

We are set to receive around £4,800 in proceeds from the sale of an original letter by JRR Tolkien at Bonhams on 27th March. The letter was generously donated to us by a local academic and Professor of Chemistry, Chick Wilson, who lectures at the University of Bath.

The letter is unique as it was unpublished and the content confirmed that Tolkien had no plans to write a sequel to the Lord of The Rings. The sale or ‘hammer’ price of the letter was above its valuation of between £2-3K and raised the equivalent funding for five (24 hour) days of nursing care for one patient bed on our Inpatient Unit.

Last November, Professor Wilson was prompted to donate his treasured Tolkien letter following a Science-themed Bake Off organised by students in the Chemistry Department to raise money for Dorothy House. The winning cake featured ‘Bag End’ house from Tolkien’s famous books The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.

We became the ‘adopted’ charity of the Department due to its support of Professor Grant Buchanan a previous Head of Department and in memory of Mark Russell a much-loved member of the University’s IT Support team who was cared for by Dorothy House.

Professor Wilson received the framed original letter over twenty years ago as a gift from a colleague at the University of Glasgow called Professor Chris Gilmore. He had received the original letter from JRR Tolkien in July 1961 in response to his fan letter written as a young boy. The letter contains a striking revelation from Tolkien who wrote: “I shall not write a sequel to the Lord of the Rings because, as is clearly stated in the course of the story, it is the end of the kind of world about which I write.”

Tolkien Letter

Letter signed by JRR Tolkien.

Here at Dorothy House, we provide compassionate and free, palliative and end of life care for people with a life-limiting illness from early diagnosis onwards. We care for patients as well as their families and carers across 700 square miles, serving a population of 550,000 people in Bath and North East Somerset, Wiltshire and Somerset.

Yvonne Brunton, Community Fundraiser here at Dorothy House said: “We are so grateful to Chick Wilson and the Department of Chemistry students for all their support of the Hospice in recent years. The donation of the Tolkien letter is the icing on the cake as it has raised almost £5k to support our vital patient care. If your
family has an interesting antique or item of value please consider donating it to Dorothy House for us to auction. Every donation helps us deliver more care in the community.”

Chick Wilson, Professor of physical chemistry at the University of Bath said: “I’m thrilled the letter has raised such a significant sum and I was delighted to be able to donate the letter to Dorothy House. Tolkien’s letter was too precious to hang on the wall for fear it would fade, so inspired by the winning ‘Bag End’ cake in our bake sale I decided it should go to someone who could appreciate it while also raising funds to support our outstanding local Hospice.”

Bonhams Head of Books and Manuscripts Mathew Haley said, “We’re very pleased to have sold this letter on behalf of such a worthwhile cause. This letter appears to be the only time that Tolkien categorically stated that there would be no sequel to The Lord of the Rings so it is a significant find. We are delighted that it reached such a high hammer price for the charity.”

To help Dorothy House with their fundraising call T: 01225 721 480 or visit www.dorothyhouse.org.uk