Tolkien and Wales
Reviewed by Sara Brown
[This review originally appeared in Mythlore 117/118.]
Chapter One of this study on the affinity that J.R.R. Tolkien felt for Wales offers much biographical detail to show the background to his affection for, and fascination with, the Welsh language. The focus here is on the O’Donnell lecture that Tolkien gave in 1955, one day after the publication of The Return of the King, called “English and Welsh.”
Phelpstead begins with an in-depth description of Tolkien’s “Celtic library,” expressing his surprise at the lack of academic scholarship on these sources—an area that has, indeed, remained relatively untouched until now. What is also surprising is the fact that, according to the notes he wrote when preparing for the O’Donnell lecture, Tolkien was apparently able to discern differences in regional dialects of Welsh despite having learned the language only from books. This, and his translation in 1923 of a portion of a text in medieval Welsh into Middle English, serves to demonstrate Tolkien’s extraordinary linguistic ability. For readers of Tolkien’s creative writing, the most interesting aspect of this particular translation is his rendering of “hoc terrarium angula” (this corner of the earth) into “þisse middeleardes hurne.” “Middelearde,” says Phelpstead, was a “normal Middle English term for this world” (14). At this point, Phelpstead embarks upon an exploration of linguistics. Unfortunately, he uses a number of linguistic terms that, lacking an in-text explanation, may leave some readers rather confused. A quick Google search of terms such as ‘i-mutation’ and ‘i-affection’ help to solve this problem, but it does break up the flow of reading.
Next, this chapter examines the interaction of philology and creativity in Tolkien’s work. The coming of the Hobbits into the Shire (as recounted in the Prologue) parallels the mass Anglo-Saxon migration of the 5th and 6th centuries. Settlers led from Bree by the Fallowhide brothers Marcho and Blanco correspond to the Anglo-Saxons Hengest and Horsa—as discussed at length by Tom Shippey in his Road to Middle-earth. In Appendix F of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien is explicit regarding the intentional connections he draws between the imagined linguistic translation of The Lord of the Rings from “The Red Book” and the use of deliberately non-English sounding nomenclature. Phelpstead argues that this use of a Celtic feel to the style of writing, as mentioned by Tolkien in Appendix F, “illustrates effectively the influence Tolkien’s love of Welsh and his scholarly engagement with the language over many years had on his creative writing” (19-20). The way in which, within this first chapter, Phelpstead engages with these connections between Tolkien’s creative writing and his interest in Welsh is both persuasive and interesting, boding well for the rest of the book.
The second chapter opens with Phelpstead explaining his own linguistic preferences (German over French, for example), which have much to do with the sounds of the language. Much like Tolkien, Phelpstead has a fascination for phonology. In the lecture “English and Welsh,” Tolkien attempts to account for these linguistic preferences, arguing that they are not purely subjective. He claims that there is a general inability to pin down satisfactorily a definition of “linguistic beauty,” which may explain the wide variations to be found in the many different languages of the world. The lecture “English and Welsh,” Phelpstead reveals, is Tolkien’s discussion of a theory of linguistic aesthetics.
According to the lecture, Tolkien’s own linguistic preferences led him to favor Greek over French, as it offers “fluidity . . . punctuated by hardness” (qtd. 23). He enjoyed Spanish, mostly due to its relationship with Latin; Gothic, however, was the first language that Tolkien encountered that he truly loved. Finnish, a language that was to have a great influence on Tolkien’s creation of the Elvish language Quenya, gave him “overwhelming pleasure” (qtd. 23). His greatest preference, though, according to the lecture, was for Welsh.
In this chapter, Phelpstead shows that Tolkien’s professed preference for Welsh is not limited to this one lecture. He points to other sources, such as his essay “A Secret Vice” and some letters, including a letter to W.H. Auden in June 1955 which mirrors closely the contents of the O’Donnell lecture. Rather surprisingly, Phelpstead discloses, Tolkien’s love for Welsh did not lead to a similar enjoyment of the Irish language. In fact, he seems to have regarded Irish with antipathy, which makes his affinity for Welsh all the more particular. Tolkien spent more time in Ireland than in Wales but found the language “wholly unattractive” (qtd. 25-26). Phelpstead believes that this may stem from Tolkien’s inability to learn Irish, despite owning around thirty grammars, readers and editions of texts in that language. In fact, Phelpstead points to evidence that Tolkien, in 1937, expressed distaste for all things Celtic due to what he called their “fundamental unreason” (qtd. 27). However, by 1950 he was hoping that his legendarium would possess “the fair elusive beauty that some call Celtic” (Letters 144).
At this point it becomes quite clear that there has been some academic disagreement between Phelpstead and Dimitra Fimi, who has also written extensively on the Celtic connections to Tolkien’s work. Phelpstead states that Fimi over-simplifies the situation when she argues that Tolkien ceased to see Celtic and Anglo-Saxon as opposites in favor of valuing them both as co-invaders and co-inhabitants of Britain by the time of the O’Donnell lecture. Instead, Phelpstead argues, there is plenty of evidence of Tolkien’s love for Wales and Welsh language/literature before 1955 and that he was still, at this point, expressing the same bitter response to the 1937 criticism of his work as being too Celtic. Phelpstead takes issue with a number of Fimi’s theories on the Celtic influence on Tolkien’s work—it would be extremely interesting, having read Phelpstead’s side of the argument, to hear Fimi’s response to his criticisms.
Chapter Three—“Inventing Language”—begins by commenting on the similarities between Welsh and Sindarin, which Phelpstead finds to be the natural result of Tolkien’s enjoyment of the ways in which Welsh matched his own linguistic tastes and preferences. He then assesses Tolkien’s well-known claim that Middle-earth was invented solely to provide context for his invented languages. Given that Fimi has recently demonstrated the independent beginnings of Tolkien’s creative and linguistic writing, Phelpstead does not fully accept Tolkien’s assertion of the one existing merely to contextualize the other (Fimi 63-7). To explore this further, he delves into Tolkien’s essay “A Secret Vice,” originally delivered as a talk in 1931 but not published until 1983. In this talk, Tolkien explores the aesthetic pleasure to be had from inventing languages, first describing his childhood experiences with Animalic and Nevbosh and then moving on to a discussion of his enjoyment of Greek, Welsh and Finnish.
Phelpstead then mines Tolkien’s letters for further relevant commentary on language, where he discovers numerous references to the influence of what he refers to as “natural languages” (43) on Tolkien’s invented languages. Apart from Welsh and Finnish and their effects on the Elvish languages, Phelpstead also discusses the Semitic roots of the Dwarvish language Khuzdul. This leads, in what is unsurprisingly the largest section in this chapter, to a far more detailed examination of the influence of Welsh on Sindarin, and Phelpstead offers plenty of evidence of the links between these two languages. These range from syntactic connections to the similarities in phonemes and the phonological changes as experienced by the two languages.
Phelpstead concludes this first section of the book by reasserting Tolkien’s emphasis on linguistic aesthetics, which, he contends, holds similar importance for many of his readers, as demonstrated by both academic and fan interest in the philological roots of Tolkien’s invented languages. Leading into the second section of the book, Phelpstead also comments on the significance of the literature of Wales, especially medieval literature in both Welsh and Latin, as a source of Tolkien’s fiction.
Chapter Four begins with Phelpstead assessing the contribution of Celtic mythology to Tolkien’s creative writing, as well as the contribution that Tolkien himself made to Celtic scholarship. Phelpstead pays particular attention to Tolkien’s “Note on the name ‘Nodens,’” showing how Tolkien used what is known as the “comparative method”—in which scholars piece together “divine activities and attributes from a range of sources separated in time and place” (54)—to construct this report, which was produced for the excavations at Lydney Park in Gloucestershire in 1928-29.
Phelpstead offers a wealth of interesting detail on how Tolkien explored etymological and comparative literary evidence that he gathered from the name of this Celtic god. Phelpstead refers to Fimi’s question of why Tolkien—a professor of Anglo-Saxon—was asked to contribute this report rather than John Fraser, who was the Jesus Professor of Celtic at Oxford at this time. Phelpstead believes that the answer lies with R.G. Collingwood, philosopher and historian of Roman Britain, who knew Tolkien well and may have recommended him. In addition, Phelpstead argues that a study of the name ‘Nodens’ called for a command of both Celtic and Germanic philology, in which Tolkien was undeniably an expert.
Phelpstead then moves on to a consideration of manuscript sources of prose narratives such as the Mabinogion, a text that Tolkien studied in detail. Of greatest interest to many readers of Tolkien is the fact that one of the manuscripts that contains the tales of the Mabinogion is called “The Red Book of Hergest”—a name which certainly brings to mind the Red Book of Westmarch, the fictional source of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. In one of the most interesting sections of this chapter, Phelpstead tracks Tolkien’s references to the Red Book of Westmarch, first alluded to in the note to the second edition of The Hobbit, published in 1951. He examines details of this Red Book as offered by Tolkien in the Prologue to The Lord of the Rings and demonstrates the parallels between this fictional text and the Red Book of Hergest. Phelpstead also reveals that several other medieval Welsh manuscripts “besides those of the Mabinogion are known by the colour of their original bindings” (62), but that the Red Book of Hergest is the most likely source for Tolkien’s choice of color for his fictional text. As evidence for this assertion, Phelpstead cites the size and importance of the Mabinogion text, as well as the fact that it was named after the place it was kept before it was donated to Jesus College, Oxford: “Hergest Court, near Kington Rural in Herefordshire, one of the counties of England bordering Wales and thus forming part of the Marches or, as one might say, the Westmarch of England” (63).
Phelpstead prefers these explanations of the origins of Tolkien’s Red Book over that offered by Verlyn Flieger, who argues that the discovery of the Winchester manuscript of Sir Thomas Malory’s Arthurian cycle in 1934 had an effect on Tolkien’s conception of the Red Book of Westmarch (Flieger). Phelpstead contends that Flieger’s theory is not convincing, as the links between the Red Books of Hergest and Westmarch are stronger, offering as evidence the fact that, in contrast to the other two books, Malory’s work contains no verses.
The next section of the chapter, which is disappointingly brief, examines potential Celtic sources for the One Ring. Phelpstead admits that stories including rings that confer invisibility on their owner are hardly rare in European and other myth and folklore but, like John D. Rateliff before him, offers the Mabinogion tale of “The Lady of the Fountain” as a likely source, especially given Tolkien’s interest in these particular stories (Rateliff 174-82). I would have liked to have seen more on this; it does seem rather strange that Phelpstead should mention one of the most important objects in the Middle-earth legendarium, only to dispense of it in one short paragraph. It might, perhaps, have been better to leave it out entirely rather than to have offered it such brief treatment.
The next section of the chapter deals with possible sources for Tolkien’s Elves. Having moved away from the Victorian and Edwardian Fairies of his earliest works, Tolkien then drew on the tradition of medieval and Celtic writing like Sir Orfeo and the Mabinogion to create the Elves that begin to appear from The Book of Lost Tales onwards. Here, Phelpstead is in agreement with Fimi that Tolkien was specifically trying to create an ‘English’ mythology for Elves, as he presents them as more authentic than the “garbled” versions found in Irish and Welsh traditions (BoLTII 290). Finally, he looks at dragons, that staple of the fantasy genre, which feature regularly in Tolkien’s stories. These include Smaug, of course, as well as Ancalagon the Black and Glaurung from The Silmarillion, Chrysophylax in Farmer Giles of Ham and the Great White Dragon of Roverandom. Although Phelpstead recognises that the most important sources for Tolkien’s dragons were almost certainly from Germanic, rather than Celtic, legend, there are still sufficient references to dragons in the Welsh mythology with which Tolkien was so familiar to offer these as an important subsidiary source.
Phelpstead then mines texts such as the ninth-century Historia Britonum, Geoffrey of Monmouth’s Historia regum Britanniae and the Mabinogion tale of “Lludd and Llefelys” for dragon-lore that may have influenced Tolkien’s writing. The most convincing case that is suggested here is that of Farmer Giles of Ham, which appears to offer a number of Welsh references, including the fact that it gives “Venedotia” as the home of Chrysophylax the dragon. This, according to Phelpstead, “securely locates the dragon’s home in north-west Wales; the kingdom of Gwynedd was called Venedotia in medieval Latin” (68).
Using references, at the end of this chapter, to the mock scholarly Foreword to Farmer Giles of Ham, in which Tolkien alludes to King Arthur, Phelpstead moves naturally into Chapter Five, which considers Tolkien’s engagement with Arthurian literature. He begins with Geoffrey of Monmouth, whose life, Phelpstead tells us, bore striking similarities to Tolkien’s. His magnum opus was the Historia regnum Britanniae, completed in 1138, which has its roots in the Arthurian tradition in Welsh and Welsh-Latin texts. Like Tolkien, Geoffrey claims that his work is a translation of an older text but, also like Tolkien, this is not the case as the bulk of the work is entirely his own invention. More than a third of the Historia is devoted to a narrative of the life of King Arthur, which he appears to have created from the “brief allusions to him in earlier sources and, presumably, folklore” (70). Tolkien alludes to this part of the Historia in his edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, a collaborative work with E.V. Gordon. His Welsh roots notwithstanding, Geoffrey’s work demonstrates his preferred connections to the Anglo-Norman elite, even going so far as to declare that “the Welsh are so called and no longer known as Britons because they have proved unworthy of their ancestors’ name” (71). Despite this, the Historia was translated into Welsh and became, Phelpstead reveals, the “most widely copied of all the medieval Welsh narrative texts” (71).
Phelpstead’s next task is to show how Tolkien used this source for his own creative writing. Here, he draws on Randel Helms who, in 1981, wrote persuasively on the parallels between one of the stories—“Culhwch and Olwen”—and Tolkien’s story of Beren and Lúthien (Helms 15-17). At this point, Phelpstead also brings in Alex Lewis and Elizabeth Currie’s recent study of Arthurian sources in Tolkien’s work. Although he praises their wide knowledge of Tolkienian Arthurian text and refers to their work as both spirited and ingenious, Phelpstead offers some severe criticisms of the way in which they have “too ready an assumption that if a particular medieval text is in some way (more or less) similar to Tolkien’s and could have been read by him it must be a source: as a consequence, they leave little to Tolkien’s own imagination” (73). In Phelpstead’s opinion, Lewis and Currie are right to draw greater attention to Tolkien’s Arthurian sources but he finds many of their theories “unconvincing” (see note 6, p.144) and their case undermined by overstating the influence of such sources.
With the help of Tom Shippey’s studies of the connections between Tolkien’s work and various translations of the Historia, Phelpstead discovers resonances that are to be found more within the language of Tolkien’s work, as well as within characters and plot. Words such as ‘dwimmerlaik,’ ‘Dwimordene,’ and ‘Dwimorberg’ from The Lord of the Rings are echoes of the language to be found in a thirteenth-century English version of the Historia. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Phelpstead finds most to discuss in Tolkien’s scholarly work on Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, in which may be found “detailed evidence of Tolkien’s knowledge of medieval Welsh language and literature and of related Arthurian literature in other languages” (77).
The remainder of this chapter serves to emphasize, should this be required, Tolkien’s extraordinary affinity for and appreciation of medieval literature. Phelpstead shows how Tolkien’s knowledge of such texts enabled him to produce both scholarly and creative writing. This includes, besides his Middle-earth narratives, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, as well as an as yet unpublished alliterative poem on “The Fall of Arthur,” still eagerly awaited by Tolkien scholars. The Lord of the Rings itself, whilst not explicitly an Arthurian text, does make use of certain Arthurian motifs and it is clear that this literary tradition had some influence on the creation of aspects of the narrative.
Phelpstead examines Verlyn Flieger’s suggestion that certain motifs in The Lord of the Rings find their origins in Arthurian tradition: the ‘tutelary wizard,’ the ‘hidden king,’ and his sword. Phelpstead spends most time on the tutelary wizard, discussing possible parallels between Gandalf and Merlin. First acknowledging that Tolkien himself offered an alternative source of inspiration for Gandalf, in the shape of a postcard painting by Josef Madelener of a white-bearded old man in a wide-brimmed hat and cloak, Phelpstead discusses the many similarities between Gandalf and Merlin. He concludes, fairly persuasively, that the morally ambiguous, politically motivated Merlin of Arthurian tradition has more in common with Saruman than Gandalf.
Phelpstead then turns his attention to Aragorn, the ‘hidden king,’ whose character suggests resonances of Arthur himself. Aragorn is a returning king, who bears a sword of great importance and delivers the land from evil. Interestingly, Phelpstead puts forward the character of Frodo as also echoing the traditional Arthurian hero: he, too, bears a sword of some importance, and his actions in taking the Ring to Mordor also deliver the land from evil. Phelpstead concludes, however, that neither Aragorn nor Frodo truly epitomize the Arthurian hero. Unlike Arthur, Aragorn does not taste the bitterness of ultimate defeat. The withdrawal of Frodo from the world has more in common with the end of Arthur’s story, as his departure into the West mirrors Arthur’s removal to Avalon. Frodo, though, is not a returning or hidden king come to claim the kingdom as rightfully his. There is always a limit to how much one should assume about the author—for example, the extent to which the author’s reading has influenced his/her writing, what resulting resonances may be found, and how much of this is deliberate. In this chapter, Phelpstead offers a carefully considered view of the influence of Arthurian literature on Tolkien’s writing but resists the temptation to map one onto the other. The reader is left with the impression that Tolkien was extremely well-versed in Celtic, Arthurian and other medieval literature, drew occasionally on elements of these that were appropriate for his writing but did not simply set out to write a narrative that could then be placed within these traditions. Of the three, in Phelpstead’s opinion, Celtic language and literature seems to have had the greatest influence, but the legends of other lands certainly had their place also. As Tolkien himself said, in his long letter to Milton Waldman (here quoted by Phelpstead), he was also knowledgeable in other legends such as “Greek [...] and Romance, Germanic, Scandinavian, and Finnish” (qtd. 86) As Phelpstead says, the reason for Tolkien not adhering to one tradition more than another seems to lie in his declared desire to produce a mythology for England, something he felt even Arthurian legends failed to do.
In Chapter Six, Phelpstead investigates the Breton Celtic literary tradition, to which Tolkien’s The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun is indebted. He begins with a short biography of Gwyn Jones who, in addition to his academic career as professor of English Language and Literature at first Aberystwyth and then Cardiff University, was also the founder/editor of The Welsh Review. This periodical, which ran from 1939-1948 with a break for the paper shortage of the Second World War, was significant for its provision of a forum for writers in English from Wales. Jones and Tolkien became friends when Tolkien visited Aberystwyth in his role as external examiner for the University of Wales (1944-5) and they had much in common; both were academics who wrote scholarly and creative pieces and they shared an interest in the Celtic literary tradition. It is thanks to Jones that Tolkien’s Lay of Aotrou and Itroun was published, as it appeared in The Welsh Review in December 1945. What is surprising about this, at first glance, is the fact that The Welsh Review bore the subtitle “A Quarterly Journal About Wales, its People, and their Activities” (91). Tolkien’s Lay—a poem set in medieval Brittany—seems to fit none of these criteria. Phelpstead spends most of the remainder of this chapter explaining that, in fact, the publication context does not suit the poem and that it was published in The Welsh Review primarily because Tolkien and Jones were friends. Phelpstead recounts the story of the Lay in some detail—this is very helpful, as it would be unfamiliar to many readers of Tolkien, due to the fact that it has never been reprinted since its appearance in The Welsh Review.
We are then told of Tolkien’s great interest in the Breton culture, as evidenced by the number of books on this topic in his personal collection, now held in the English Faculty Library in Oxford. Tolkien also studied and prepared his own edition of Sir Orfeo, a late thirteenth- or early fourteenth-century poem in the Breton tradition. Phelpstead offers the reader some excerpts from this text, and shows how it influenced some important aspects of Tolkien’s own creative writing. The Elves of Middle-earth seem to come from its faerie realm and Phelpstead concurs with Carl Hostetter’s view that elements of the tale of Beren and Lúthien and the return of Aragorn to Gondor can be seen within Sir Orfeo (Hostetter).
In the last section of this chapter, Phelpstead draws a number of parallels between Breton language and literature and The Lord of the Rings but, ultimately, concludes that The Welsh Review was not the most obvious home for The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun. The reader may, as a result, struggle to see the links between this chapter and the rest of the book, as its sole connection seems to be in the fact that this one piece of writing was placed in a Welsh publication, where it did not truly belong. The discussion of Tolkien’s knowledge of Breton literary tradition is interesting, certainly, but this chapter does feel as misplaced in this book as Tolkien’s Lay was in The Welsh Review. The connection to Wales and Welsh is so slight in this chapter that the reader is left with a feeling of having been pulled away from the main theme of this study and sent off in a different direction. It is a shame, as there are some important things to be said about the influences of Breton language and literature on Tolkien’s work, but this chapter may have fared better as a standalone essay, or within a different book dealing with Tolkien’s connections to medieval literature in general.
The final chapter looks at Wales and Welsh from the point of view of national identity and begins with a brief history of the various Acts of Union that brought the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland into being. As Phelpstead says, one might surmise that Tolkien, with his love of Welsh and his own “sense of regional identity as a west Midlander, Mercian or Hwiccan,” might have led him to “favour the concept of ‘Britishness’ as a way of uniting the two in a single identity”(108). In fact, as Phelpstead makes clear in this chapter, Tolkien detested this understanding of ‘British’ and believed that “true devotion to both English and Welsh requires that their differences be celebrated rather than obscured by labelling them both as British” (109).
Phelpstead then considers Tolkien’s writing in the light of Humphrey Carpenter’s assertion that the ultimate aim was to create a “mythology for England,” an idea that has inspired a number of academic articles exploring whether this was indeed the case. Phelpstead examines this claim through a consideration of Tolkien’s own sense of self-identity, which led him to prefer the label of ‘English’ over ‘British,’ but even more the specific identity of the region of the west Midlands of England. The next section of the chapter explores the effect that Tolkien’s identification with this particular region had on his writing, as well as how this informed his ability to pinpoint the precise geographical origin of Old and Middle English literary texts such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and the Ancrene Riwle. All of this, Phelpstead contends, expresses Tolkien’s strong sense of regional identity that was firmly situated in the west Midlands or, more specifically, Hwicca, the south-west corner of the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia.
What comes out of this chapter is a sense of the value that Tolkien placed on linguistic diversity, as is evident in both his academic and creative writing. The languages of the different Peoples of Middle-earth demonstrate the ways in which he saw language and identity as being inextricably linked. Phelpstead then endeavors to connect this to Tolkien’s love for Wales by commenting on the geographical proximity of the west Midlands to the borders of Wales, here attempting to unite the main theme of this study—Tolkien and Wales—with this fiercely regional self-identification. Tolkien, we are told, “valued the local and the particular as against the imperial and the global because he sensed a close connection between identity and the local environment” (116). This, Phelpstead declares, at least partly explains Tolkien’s love for Wales and the Welsh language as, like the Elves in Lothlórien: “Whether they’ve made the land or the land’s made them, it’s hard to say” (LotR II.6.360).
This final chapter argues persuasively that Tolkien favored a sense of regional identity and valued the resulting linguistic diversity. What is less persuasive, perhaps, is the relationship that Phelpstead attempts to draw between this and Tolkien’s love for Wales and Welsh. Given the stated theme of this study, it is only natural that Phelpstead should feel the need to create these connections but, like the previous chapter on Breton, these links do seem rather forced at times. This does not in any way detract from the academic value of Phelpstead’s work, which is both interesting and well-written, but he does not always retain the links to Wales that the reader might expect. Instead, room might have been made for the expansion of certain sections, such as that on the Celtic sources for the One Ring in Chapter Four, which were dealt with rather disappointingly briefly.
Despite these few caveats, this is a book that offers much to both the serious student of Tolkien, as well as those who are simply interested in discovering more about the various influences on Tolkien’s writing. Happily, Phelpstead tends to refrain from the kind of excluding academic jargon that prevents many from accessing some studies on Tolkien, with the exception of a few instances in the earlier chapters, when some explanation of linguistic terminology might have been useful. This work is both interesting and accessible, deserving of a place on the bookshelf of anyone who is interested in learning more about one of the greatest authors of our time.
- Fimi, Dimitra. Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits. Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
- Flieger, Verlyn. “Tolkien and the Idea of the Book.” In The Lord of the Rings 1954-2004: Scholarship in Honor of Richard E. Blackwelder. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, eds. Milwaukee: Marquette UP, 2006. 283-99.
- Helms, Randall. Tolkien and the Silmarils. Boston: HoughtonMifflin, 1981.
- Hostetter, Carl F. “Sir Orfeo: A Middle English Version by J.R.R. Tolkien.” Tolkien Studies 1 (2004): 85-123.
- Lewis, A and Currie, E. The Epic Realm of Tolkien: Part One—Beren and Lúthien. Moreton-in-Marsh: ADC Publications, 2009.
- Rateliff, John D. The History of The Hobbit. 2 vol. London: HarperCollins, 2007.
- Tolkien, J.R.R. The Book of Lost Tales, Part II. London: HarperCollins, 1984.
- Tolkien, J.R.R. The Lord of the Rings 50th Anniversary Edition. London: HarperCollins, 2005.