Read The Peoples of Middle-earth Online

Authors: J. R. R. Tolkien

The Peoples of Middle-earth

BOOK: The Peoples of Middle-earth
12.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
When J.R.R. Tolkien laid aside The Silmarillion in 1937

the extension of the original 'mythology' into later Ages of the world had scarcely emerged, if it had emerged at all; as he himself recorded, he knew nothing of the peoples and history of these Ages until he 'met them on the way': 'The Mines of Moria had been a mere name; and of Lothlorien no word had reached my mortal ears until I came there. Fangorn Forest was an unforeseen adventure. I had never heard of the House of Eorl nor of the Stewards of Gondor. Saruman had never been revealed to me.'

It was in the Appendices to The Lord of the Rings that there emerged a comprehensive historical structure and chronology of the Second and Third Ages, embracing all the diverse strands that came together in the War of the Ring. The difficulty bordering on despair that he found in providing these Appendices, leading to delay in the publication of The Return of the King, is well known; but in The Peoples of Middle-earth Christopher Tolkien shows that the work had in fact been achieved years before, in essays and records differing greatly from the published forms. In these early texts is seen the evolution of the chronology of the later Ages, the Calendars, the Hobbit genealogies (with those of families that were printed but not published), and the Westron language or Common Speech (from which many words and names are recorded that were afterwards lost).

Following the account of the Appendices a number of other writings by J.R.R. Tolkien are included in this book, chiefly deriving from his last years, when new insights and new constructions still freely arose as he pondered the history that he had created.

This final volume of The History of Middle-earth concludes with two soon-abandoned stories, both unique in the setting of time or place: The New Shadow in Gondor of the Fourth Age, and the tale of Tal-elmar, in which the coming of the dreaded Numenorean ships is seen through the eyes of men of Middle-earth in the Dark Years.




Edited by Christopher Tolkien.

Harper CollinsPablishers.

To Baillie Tolkien.


Foreword. page vii.




I. The Prologue. 3.

II. The Appendix on Languages. 19.

III. The Family Trees. 85.

IV. The Calendars. 119.

V. The History of the Akallabeth. 140.

VI. The Tale of Years of the Second Age. 166.

VII. The Heirs of Elendil. 188.

VIII. The Tale of Years of the Third Age. 225.

IX. The Making of Appendix A.

(i) The Realms in Exile. 253.

(ii) The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen. 262.

(iii) The House of Eorl. 270.

(iv) Durin's Folk. 274.



X. Of Dwarves and Men. 295.

XI. The Shibboleth of Feanor. 331.

XII. The Problem of Ros. 367.

XIH. Last Writings. 377.



XIV. Dangweth Pengolod. 395.

XV. Of Lembas. 403.



XVI. The New Shadow. 409.

XVII. Tal-Elmar. 422.

Index. 439.


In my Foreword to Sauron Defeated I wrote that I would not attempt a study of the Appendices to The Lord of the Rings 'at this time'. That was an ambiguous remark, for I rather doubted that I would ever make the attempt; but I justified its postponement, at least, on the ground that 'my father soon turned again, when The Lord of the Rings was finished, to the myths and legends of the Elder Days', and so devoted the following volumes to the later history of 'The Silmarillion'. My intentions for the twelfth book were uncertain; but after the publication of The War of the Jewels I came to think that since (contrary to my original conception) I had included in The History of Middle-earth a lengthy account of the writing of The Lord of the Rings it would be a strange omission to say nothing whatever of the Appendices, in which the historical structure of the Second and Third Ages, based on a firm chronology, actually emerged.

Thus I embarked on the study of the history of these works, of which I had little precise knowledge. As with the narrative texts of The Lord of the Rings, those of the Appendices (and of the Prologue) became divided, in some cases in a bewildering fashion, at the time of the sale of the papers to Marquette University; but I received most generous help, prompt and meticulous, from Charles Elston, the Archivist of the Memorial Library at Marquette, which enabled me to determine the textual relations. It was only now that I came to understand that texts of supplementary essays to The Lord of the Rings had reached a remarkably finished form, though in many respects far different from the published Appendices, at a much earlier date than I had supposed: in the period (as I judge) immediately following my father's writing of the last chapter of The Lord of the Rings in 1948. There is indeed a total absence in these texts of indications of external date; but it can be seen from many points that when they were written the narrative was not yet in final form, and equally clearly that they in fact preceded my father's return to the First Age at the beginning of the 1950s, as described in the Foreword to The War of the Jewels. A major upheaval in the historical-linguistic structure was still to come: the abandonment of their own tongue by the Noldor returning out of the West and their adoption of the Sindarin of Middle-earth.

In my account I have of course concentrated on these early forms, which belong so evidently, in manner and air, with the narrative itself. I have little doubt that my father had long con-templated such a supplement and accompaniment to The Lord of the Rings, regarding it as an essential element in the whole; and I have found it impossible to show in any satisfactory way how he conceived it at that time without setting out the early texts in full, although this naturally entails the recital, especially in the case of the history of Arnor and Gondor, of much that is known from its survival in the published versions of the Appendices. I have excluded the Appendix E ('Writing and Spelling'), but I have included the Prologue; and I have introduced into this part of the book an account of the origin and development of the Akallabeth, since the evolution of the chronological structure of the Second Age was closely related to my father's original formalised computation of the dates of the Numenorean kings.

Following this part I have given three essays written during his last years; and also some brief writings that appear to derive from the last years of his life, primarily concerned with or arising from the question whether Glorfindel of Rivendell and Glorfindel of Gondolin were one and the same. These late writings are notable for the many wholly new elements that entered the 'legendarium'; and also for the number of departures from earlier work on the Matter of the Elder Days. It may be suggested that whereas my father set great store by consistency at all points with The Lord of the Rings and the Appendices, so little concerning the First Age had appeared in print that he was under far less constraint. I am inclined to think, however, that the primary explanation of these differences lies rather in his writing largely from memory. The histories of the First Age would always remain in a somewhat fluid state so long as they were not fixed in published work; and he certainly did not have all the relevant manuscripts clearly arranged and set out before him. But it remains in any case an open question, whether (to give a single example) in the essay Of Dwarves and Men he had definitively rejected the greatly elaborated account of the houses of the Edain that had entered the Quenta Silmarillion in about 1958, or whether it had passed from his mind.

The book concludes with two pieces further illustrating the instruction that AElfwine of England received from Pengolod the Wise in Tol Eressea, and the abandoned beginnings of two remarkable stories, The New Shadow and Tal-elmar.

With the picture of such clarity in the tale of Tal-elmar of the great ships of the Numenoreans drawing into the coast, and the

- fear among men of Middle-earth of the terrible 'Go-hilleg', this

'History' ends. It is a long time since I began the work of ordering and elucidating the vast collection of papers in which my father's conception of Arda, Aman, and Middle-earth was contained, making, not long after his death, some first transcrip-tions from The Book of Lost Tales, of which I knew virtually nothing, as a step towards the understanding of the origins of

'The Silmarillion'. I had little notion then of what lay before me, of all the unknown works crammed in disorder in that formi-dable array of battered box-files. Nearly a quarter of a century later the story, as I have been able to tell it, is at last concluded.

This is not to say that I have given an account of everything that my father wrote, even leaving aside the great body of his work on the languages of the Elves. My father's very late writings have been selectively presented, and much further detail, especially concerning names and the etymology of names, can be found in texts such as those that I excerpted in Unfinished Tales, notably in the part of that book entitled 'The History of Galadriel and Celeborn'. Other omissions have arisen almost one might say from inadvertence as the work and its publication proceeded.

It began indeed as an entirely 'private' study, without thought or purpose of publication: an exhaustive investigation and analysis of all the materials concerned with what came to be called the Elder Days, from the earliest beginnings, omitting no detail of name-form or textual variation. From that original work derives the respect for the precise wording of the texts, and the insistence that no stone (especially stones bearing names) be left unturned, that characterises, perhaps excessively, The History of Middle-earth. Unfinished Tales, on the other hand, was conceived entirely independently and in an essentially different mode, at a time when I had no notion of the publication of a massive and continuous history; and this constitutes an evident weakness in my presentation of the whole corpus, which could not be remedied. When Rayner Unwin, to whom I am greatly indebted, undertook the uncertain venture of publishing my work on the history of 'The Silmarillion' (in form necessarily much altered) I had no intention of entering into the history of the Later Ages: the inclusion of The Lost Road, The Drowning of Anadune, The Notion Club Papers, and above all the history of the writing of The Lord of the Rings, extending the work far beyond my original design, was entirely unforeseen.

Thus it came about that the later volumes were written and published under much greater pressure of time and with less idea of the overall structure than the earlier. Attempting to make each book an independent entity in some degree, within the constraints of length, I was often uncertain of what it would or could contain until it was done; and this lack of prevision led to some misjudgements of 'scale' - the degree of fulness or conciseness that would ultimately prove appropriate to the whole.

Thus, for example, I should have returned at the end of my account of the writing of The Lord of the Rings to give some description, at least, of the later developments in the chapters The Shadow of the Past and The Council of Elrond, and the evolution in relation to these of the work Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age. However, all the stories and all the histories have now been told, and the 'legendarium' of the Elder Days has been very fully mined.

BOOK: The Peoples of Middle-earth
12.86Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Simply the Best by Wendi Zwaduk
Seer by Robin Roseau
Afloat and Ashore by James Fenimore Cooper
The Devil's Third by Ford, Rebekkah
Magic Faraway Tree by Enid Blyton
This Side of Heaven by Karen Robards
Privileged by Zoey Dean
Fairy Lies by E. D. Baker
The Photographer's Wife by Nick Alexander