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Christopher Tolkien, the son and literary heir of J.R.R. Tolkien, has passed away at the age of 95.
Christopher played a pivotal role in maintaining and expanding the influence of his father, who was the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. After J.R.R. Tolkien passed away in 1973, it was Christopher who became his literary executor and organized his father’s unpublished writings. It would result in the publishing of works such as The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales and The History of Middle-earth, all of which added much depth into Tolkien’s fictional world.
Christopher Tolkien also edited several of his father’s scholarly writings, leading to the publication of The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún appeared in 2009, The Fall of Arthur in 2013, and Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary in 2014.
In a statement, Shaun Gunner, Chair of the Tolkien Society, expressed his condolences:
All of us in the Tolkien Society will share in the sadness at the news of Christopher Tolkien’s death, and we send our condolences to Baillie, Simon, Adam, Rachel and the whole Tolkien family at this difficult time. Christopher’s commitment to his father’s works have seen dozens of publications released, and his own work as an academic in Oxford demonstrates his ability and skill as a scholar. Millions of people around the world will be forever grateful to Christopher for bringing us The Silmarillion, The Children of Húrin, The History of Middle-earth series and many others. We have lost a titan and he will be sorely missed.
Tolkien scholar Dr Dimitra Fimi added that:
Tolkien studies would never be what it is today without Christopher Tolkien’s contribution. From editing The Silmarillion to the mammoth task of giving us the History of Middle-earth series, he revealed his father’s grand vision of a rich and complex mythology. He gave us a window into Tolkien’s creative process, and he provided scholarly commentary that enriched our understanding of Middle-earth. He was Middle-earth’s cartographer and first scholar.
Christopher Tolkien has left us, at 95. Sad? Hardly. That's a good long life, and he did everything he intended to do.
Farewell, good sir. Mission accomplished. May you find your father's open arms in that far green country, beneath a swift sunrise.#ChristopherTolkien
— Jeff Duntemann (@JeffDuntemann) January 17, 2020
My correspondence with Christopher Tolkien resulted in this, which still warms my heart. https://t.co/TqGX5PORsq
— Neil Gaiman (@neilhimself) January 16, 2020
Top Image: Christopher Tolkien (photographed by Bob Cohn / Wikimedia Commons) and The Silmarillion, which he edited (photo by Stojanoski Slave / Wikimedia Commons)