"My work did not 'evolve' into a serious work. It started like that," states a somewhat testy J. R. R. Tolkien in response to a request for information about himself and his books from Miss Bradley at the London office of the New York Times.
Tolkien, who wrote The Hobbit based on stories he told to his children, was primarily a scholar. He fell into authorship by accident when an incomplete manuscript came into the hands of a publisher. The Hobbit, which came out in 1937, was an instant success.
Following the success of The Hobbit, his publisher, George Allen & Unwin, urged him to write a sequel. Somewhat reluctantly, Tolkien began work on what would become the Lord of the Rings. The series took sixteen years to complete and eventually led to wealth and unwelcomed notoriety.
The Times review was very positive. The summary, in addition to noting Tolkien's scholarly background, states that the book "is an extraordinary work--pure excitement, unencumbered narrative, moral warmth, barefaced rejoicing in beauty, but excitement most of all; yet a serious and scrupulous fiction, nothing cozy, no little visits to one's childhood."
To see Tolkien's letter and Mr. Brown's cover, ask for Mss 955314.