Read 'disgusting and costly' Tolkien letter that sold for £1,700

Contributed by
Dec 16, 2012

We know and love J.R.R. Tolkien as the author of thousands of pages of Middle-earth lore. But he also wrote letters, and one particularly notable piece of his correspondence is this recently found letter Tolkien wrote to a couple he and his wife met while on holiday in 1963.

Apparently the vacation didn't go very well, and the resulting letter was noteworthy enough to fetch a hefty sum at auction.

The Telegraph reported Monday that the letter was sold to an unnamed bidder through Richard Winterton auctioneers for the sum of £1,700. It's dated April 6, 1963, and is addressed from Tolkien to "Dear People." Those "dear people" were apparently a couple Tolkien and his wife Edith met while on holiday, and according to the letter their new friends were the only bright spot in what was an otherwise disastrous outing.

Tolkien wrote:

"I meant to send this letter to welcome you home. But both of us have been feeling ill.

"I am feeling better now, but I am afraid Edith is not - a v nasty cold.

"Rather a disgusting and costly holiday, but for us it was at any rate made memorable by your company and kindness.

"We thought of you yesterday, and hoped your journey home would be less unpleasant than our icy winds and snow have foreboded."

The sellers of the letter found it in a book they had (though not a Tolkien book), and apparently have no idea where it came from. According to Winterton employee Adrian Rathbone, several experts were able to authenticate Tolkien's handwriting.

Whether it was the author, the letter's subject matter or its mysterious origins, Rathbone said the selling price was rather unusual for such an item.

"Letters like this do sell, but I have to say I thought the maximum it would fetch was GBP300-400, not GBP1,700," he said.

Bad vacation aside, things worked out OK for Tolkien. He's a legend now, so much so that some people are willing to pay nearly £2,000 just to read about a bummer of a trip he once had.

(via The Telegraph)

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