Art And Culture

Tolkien’s Christmas Letters to Go on Show

Tolkien’s Christmas Letters to Go on ShowTolkien’s Christmas Letters to Go on Show

A previously unseen series of illustrated Christmas letters written by English author J.R.R Tolkien (1892-1973) to his children, featuring Santa Claus and his helper Polar Bear, are to go on show next year at the Bodleian Library in Oxford from June 1 to October 28, 2018.

The letters start in 1920 after Tolkien’s three-year old son John asked him who Father Christmas was and where he lived, Reuters reported.

Tolkien decided to assume the identity of Father Christmas in a written reply and told stories of the North Pole via handwritten text and illustrations. The letters became a tradition that Tolkien maintained for all four of his children and he delivered them on Christmas Eve for the next 23 years.

The early letters are filled with light-hearted tales of Father Christmas’s adventures with Polar Bear, who is described in the 1926 letter to have “turned on all the Northern Lights for two years in one go”.

But as the letters progress and Tolkien and his children grow older, they become longer and darker in tone.

The 1932 letter opens by alluding to the unwelcome presence of goblins at the North Pole. The goblins continue to feature in the letters, living in caves beneath the North Pole and engaging in battles with Father Christmas.

Their introduction coincides with the period in which Tolkien was working on one of his most renowned works ‘The Hobbit’, which features a storyline of goblins along with other fictional creatures.

The letters will be displayed alongside a selection of Tolkien collections, inspirations and artifacts from the UK and US at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

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