Christopher Tolkien, son of celebrated author JRR Tolkien, passed away at the age of 95, the Tolkien Society informed late Thursday night. Tolkien was the keeper of the legacy of his father, who is best known as the author of the classic high fantasy fiction ‘The Lord of the Rings’.
The Tolkien Society, a literary society and charity which promotes the Tolkien legacy, posted a short statement on Twitter to mark Christopher’s death.
“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,” the post read.
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, who was born in Leeds in 1924 to the revered fantasy author and his wife Edith, grew up listening tohis father’s tales of Bilbo Baggins, which later became the children’s fantasy novel, The Hobbit.After a childhood in Oxford, he had joined the RAF during the Second World War and was stationed in South Africa. When the war ended, he finished his studies and became a lecturer in Old and Middle English as well as Old Icelandic at the University of Oxford. Post his father’s death in 1973, Christopher became the literary executor of the Tolkien Estate and went on to edit and publish his father’s unpublished material starting with The Silmarillion in 1977 and ending with The Fall of Gondolin in 2018. He had only resigned from the post two years ago.
A post on the Tolkien Society’s website detailed what Christopher’s work had meant to the literary world. Tolkien scholar Dr. Dimitra Fimi reflected on Christopher’s academic contribution, “Tolkien studies would never be what it is today without Christopher Tolkien’s contribution. From editing The Silmarillion to the mammoth task of giving us the History of Middle-earth series, he revealed his father’s grand vision of a rich and complex mythology. He was Middle-earth’s cartographer and first scholar.”
This is corroborated by the fact that Christopher, in fact, had drawn many of the original maps detailing the world of the Middle Earth as depicted in the Lord of the Rings and supplementary works of fiction.
Christopher Tolkien was also protective of his father’s legacy and fiercely critical of what he saw as the ‘commercialisation’ of the late author’s work, as has been most prominently done by Peter Jackson’s Oscar-winning film adaptation of the ‘Lord of the Rings’.