Yes, folks, it is with sadness that we report that Christopher Tolkien passed away in his home of Provence, France yesterday at the age of 95 years young. Whilst Christopher might not be as widely known as his far more famous father, author J.R.R. Tolkien, but the most ardent fans of Tolkien’s fictional work are well aware of how important role Christopher played in bringing his father’s stories to readers across the world.
Our thoughts go out to Christopher’s wife Baillie, his children, and the rest of the Tolkien family at this time. Christopher had been unwell lately, and at the age of 95 these things can always take a darker turn. However, given what he has achieved in his life, his dedication to carrying on his father’s work in his own way, and success in doing so, Christopher had had a great life across his almost 100 years on Middle-earth. You can catch the announcement from the Tolkien Society released yesterday below.
Christopher Tolkien has died at the age of 95. The Tolkien Society sends its deepest condolences to Baillie, Simon, Adam, Rachel and the whole Tolkien family. pic.twitter.com/X83PTx4b7x
— Tolkien Society (@TolkienSociety) January 16, 2020
Christopher wasn’t an author as such, that was his father’s talent. However, when J.R.R. Tolkien passed away, he left a lot of his stories and histories unfinished. The Silmarillion, which is a collection of Tolkien’s unfinished work, was not published until after he had passed away. Due to the unfinished state of these works, there was no one definitive version of events. Tolkien worked on Middle-earth right up until his death, and in an effort to ensure everything fit together perfectly he was always changing little details, which would have deeper effects on the rest of his Universe as a result.
The real skill of Christopher was to successfully sort, collate and edit his late father’s work, to try and release to readers the most complete version of the First and Second Ages of Tolkien’s world. Even after The Silmarillion had opened the eyes of the world to just what a genius his father really was, Christopher remained invested in providing as much of his father’s notes, variations, and unfinished stories to the Global fan base. Though the works of Tolkien are now handled by the Tolkien Estate, and Christopher had not taken an active role in quite some time, he was still a massive influence on everything connected to his father’s work.
Christopher was also not a fan of what Peter Jackson delivered in the movie version of The Lord of the Rings. He believed it to be a commercialization of a more serious, classic piece of work. However, Christopher had no say in the way those movies were developed as his father had sold the movie rights (believing it would never be made anyway) in order to pay tax bills prior to his death.
Though recently there was clear signs of a slightly different approach being taken to Tolkien’s works not covered by those movie rights, and many fans felt that this was due to Christopher effectively stepping away from it all. As you might be aware Amazon recently paid an absolute fortune to secure toe rights to adapt stories from Tolkien’s Second Age, which is also the Age that Tolkien’s detailed the least across his history. It remains to be seen how successful or popular Amazon’s show will be. However, the Tolkien Estate has insisted that no matter where Amazon goes with their story, it MUST NOT contradict the established canon set down by Tolkien in his writings. Though, I suppose the decision on what is canon or not, essentially fell to Christopher when choosing and arranging The Silmarillion all those years ago. One wonders what the future will hold now that Christopher is no longer here to protect his father’s work from the Hollywood machine he never cared much for. Could we ever see the rights to Tolkien’s First Age sold for example?
Farwell Christopher, you have passed into the uttermost West, to the halls of Mandos for a brief time. After which, who knows, even the wise do not know what fate awaits Man after death, as they receive the gift of Eru Illuvatar. Let us hope he wakes to a swift sunrise and his father welcoming him back home. Any fans of Middle-earth feel free to show your appreciation of Christopher in the usual spot below.
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SOURCE: Tolkien Society