Christopher Tolkien, the son of Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien who helped to expand understanding of the mythical world of Middle-earth, has died. He passed in Provence, France at age 95, according to his brother-in-law and the Tolkien Society.
J.R.R. Tolkien died in 1973, and his son worked to illuminate the world of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings for new generations. He was the overseer on two dozen editions of his father’s works. He also published a definitive work that helped compile the various threads of the stories, publishing them in 1977 as The Silmarillion. He also created a map of Middle-earth, a copy of which is now held by the British Library
To illuminate his father’s imaginative works even more – and to quell accusations that he was making up some of it – he produced the 12-volume The History of Middle-earth in 1996. The collection was taken from 70 boxes of unpublished materials that underlined that the works of J.R.R. Tolkien were not Christopher Tolkien’s.
Christopher Tolkien was born in Leeds, England, on Nov. 21, 1924, the third and youngest son of J.R.R. and Edith Mary (Bratt). He served with the Royal Air Force in South Africa in WW II.
The Tolkien Society published two tributes to Christopher Tolkien on its website.
“It is with great sadness that we can confirm that Tolkien’s son and literary executor Christopher Tolkien has died aged 95.
Christopher was born in Leeds, United Kingdom, on 21 November 1924. After a childhood in Oxford, he joined the RAF during the Second World War and was stationed to South Africa. After the war, he finished his studies and became a lecturer in Old and Middle English as well as Old Icelandic at the University of Oxford. After his father’s death in 1973, he became the literary executor of the Tolkien Estate and went on to edit and publish his father’s unpublished material starting with The Silmarillion in 1977 and ending with The Fall of Gondolin in 2018.
Tolkien Society Chair Shaun Gunner said, “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.
Survivors include his wife, Baillie Tolkien; his sister, Priscilla; and three children, Simon, Adam and Rachel.