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Letters from Father Christmas
J.R.R. Tolkien
Houghton Mifflin, 157 pages

J.R.R. Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born of English parents at Bloemfontein, South Africa on Jan. 3, 1892 and died in England on Sept. 2, 1973. He received his education at Oxford University. After graduating in 1915, he joined the British army and saw action in the Battle of the Somme. He was eventually discharged after spending most of 1917 in the hospital.

Tolkien was a scholar by profession. He worked as a staff member of the New English Dictionary, Reader then Professor of English Language at Leeds between 1920-25, Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford between 1925-45 and Merton Professor of English Language and Literature until 1959.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Hobbit
The Tolkien Timeline
The Electronic Tolkien Encyclopedia Project
The Last Homely House
Tolkien's Birmingham
Tolkien's Oxford
The Internet Tolkien Book Society Page
The Tolkien Collector Resources Page
The Kingdoms of Gondor and Arnor Page
The Halls of Tolkien
The Numenor Chronology

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Trent Walters

Letters from Father Christmas One of the more fetching pieces of Tolkien "literary" memorabilia that has been reprinted recently is Letters from Father Christmas, letters written to his children, along with a number of distinctive colour illustrations. One can almost read between the lines as the children grow too old to write to Santa, or as the times may have grown a little rough for the Tolkien family Christmas gift-giving.

The letters lack any particular plot but do include plenty of clever dialogue between Father Christmas and his helper, the North Polar Bear:

"Father Christmas:
The North Pole became colder than any cold thing ever has been, and when the North Polar Bear put his nose against it -- took the skin off: now it is bandaged with red flannel. Why did he? I don't know, but he is always putting his nose where it ought not to be -- into my cupboards for instance.

North Polar Bear:
That's because I am hungry."

Father Christmas details the trouble North Polar Bear gets into: from wrecking presents to falling down goblin caves. J.R.R. Tolkien's children must have had enviably imaginative Christmases.

The target audience for this book is a little unclear. Most likely, it's for adults who have enjoyed Tolkien's major works, but younger children should enjoy some of the letters and many of the illustrations. How to pawn these off on your children? Tell them that these are true Santa artifacts, but that, of course, will only last until they're old enough to read the introduction for themselves. Use your imagination.

Copyright © 2000 Trent Walters

Trent Walters co-edits Mythic Circle, is a 1999 graduate of Clarion West, is working on a book of interviews with science fiction writers.

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