Into the world of Tolkien: pictures of the author of Lord of The Rings at home to go under the hammer
An archive of intimate photos and letters providing a rare glimpse into JRR Tolkien’s mysterious world is up for sale.
The images of the intensely private Lord of the Rings author relaxing in his study and garden with his wife Edith were taken by society photographer Pamela Chandler.
The collection includes an image shot in his study that shows Tolkien’s own hand-drawn map of Middle Earth, where The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy took place.
Pamela’s archive also includes her photos of Rayner Unwin, who at the age of 10 was the first person to read the manuscript of The Hobbit.
According to Tolkien folklore, the youngster’s 1936 review convinced his publisher father, Stanley Unwin, to turn it into a book.
Pictured: An archive of intimate photos and letters that provide a rare glimpse into JRR Tolkien’s secret world is up for sale and is expected to fetch at least £25,000 when they go under the hammer at auction in Essex next month
Private: The photo collection was captured in Tolkien’s home in 1961 by society photographer Pamela Chandler
Lord of the Rings author Tolkien was famously private and so the photos offer a glimpse into his world and his family life
Pictured: A letter from JRR Tolkien to Pamela Chandler in 1961 to arrange the photo shoot at his home
Without Rayner’s feedback, the Lord of the Rings trilogy might never have been written.
The photo shoot was organized after Pamela’s work and reputation led to photographic commissions from 1960s celebrities, royalty and major literary publishers.
As a result, in 1961, she was given the task of shooting professional portraits for the famously camera-shy writer.
Pamela won him over and she became close friends with Tolkien and his wife for the rest of their lives.
In 1966, she was invited back to their Oxfordshire home to take candid photos of the devoted couple.
The images of the intensely private author were taken while he was relaxing at home. Pictured: Tolkien in his study in 1961
After shooting portraits in 1961 (right), Pamela was invited back home in 1966 to take pictures of the devoted couple (left)
The archive contains photos of Rayner Unwin, who at the age of 10 was the first person to read the manuscript of The Hobbit
Who was J.R.R. Tolkien? The Oxford professor who fought in the Somme and wrote the Hobbit
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in South Africa in 1892 and moved to England at the age of four.
He grew up in Sarehole, Birmingham, and became a professor at Oxford University, where he studied Old and Middle English.
While working at university, Tolkien invented his own languages. But when World War I broke out, he enlisted as a second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers and fought in the Battle of the Somme.
He was eventually fired due to illness.
When he returned to Oxford after the war, he wrote a line about a ‘hobbit’ while proofing a paper.
The line became one of his most famous works, The Hobbit novel, and he later wrote The Lord of the Rings series.
The books contain stories from a fantasy land, partly inspired by ancient European myths. The world had its own card sets, knowledge and its own unique language.
He named it Middle-earth, and the world was populated by men, elves, dwarves, trolls, orcs, goblins, and hobbits.
The Hobbit was published in 1937, before his famous trilogy.
The first part of the series, The Fellowship of the Ring, was published in 1954, while The Two Towers and The Return of the King followed in 1955.
Tolkien had four children, three sons and a daughter, all of whom continued his legacy after his death on September 2, 1973, at the age of 81.
Pamela died in 1993 and her archive of prints, negatives and related correspondence went to her sister.
It is now up for sale at Reeman Dansie Auctioneers of Colchester, Essex. It is expected to sell for over £25,000.
The group of 64 color and black and white negatives for the original Tolkien shoots are sold under copyright meaning the successful bidder will receive a fixed commission each time they are published.
They are worth £10,000.
The correspondence Pamela kept includes letters she received from both Tolkien and his wife.
The signed letters, valued at £2,500 each, contain “delightful tolkienisms”, updates on his health condition and the couple’s birthday and Christmas plans.
However, there is one that underlines the importance he attached to his own privacy.
Provoked by a newspaper article, he wrote to Pamela how he resented the “blatant invasion of my privacy” and that he “couldn’t stand any more of this nonsense.”
Daniel Wright, of Reeman Dansie Auctioneers, said: ‘Pamela Chandler paved the way in the then male-dominated world of professional photography.
‘The archive is complete and covers her entire career, but Tolkien’s work is the most interesting material because he was such a private man who didn’t like publicity or being photographed.
She became friends with him and his wife and became his favorite photographer.
‘Tolkien letters are very popular because they don’t come on the market very often.
“We have six in this collection. One in particular is interesting because it has a wonderful, uniquely Tolkien phrase. He tells Pamela that he hopes she’s “catching up with arrows.”
In a letter dated December 27, 1966, Tolkien said he had given prints of the photo shoot in his study as Christmas presents to relatives.
He added: “Those of the family who have seen the photos are very happy with them.”
In a letter dated January 8, 1967, Edith referred to her husband as “The Professor” who needed frequent breaks from “Brainwork, etc.”
Pictured: A professional portrait of Tolkien in his study (left) and (right) a more candid photo of Tolkien in his garden in 1966
Pictured: A letter from JRR Tolkien sent to Society photographer Pamela Chandler in 1961
The archive also features Pamela’s notebooks in which she described the Tolkiens as the “cutest people you could meet and I can never think of one without the other.”
Tolkien, who owned a holiday home in Poole, Dorset, died in 1973 at the age of 81. Edith died in 1971 at the age of 82.
The archive will be sold on December 1.