The Catholic Culture Podcast: Ep. 66 – Christopher Tolkien, 1924-2020




Feb 12, 2020

This is a tribute to Christopher Tolkien, who passed away on
Jan. 16, 2020. Without Christopher’s decades of dedicated
scholarship, most notably his editing and publication of The
Silmarillion, our knowledge of J. R. R. Tolkien’s fictional world
and very real genius would be considerably disadvantaged. Tolkien
scholar John Garth, author of the acclaimed biography Tolkien
and the Great War
, joins the show to discuss a father-son
collaboration unique in literary history.


[5:36] How Christopher Tolkien helped John in working on his

[13:40] The significance of the chronology of the composition of
J.R.R. Tolkien’s works

[16:31] J.R.R. Tolkien’s lifelong work on The
and the editorial problems posed by the different
drafts left at his death

[23:37] Christopher’s childhood involvement with his father’s

[29:19] The input Christopher had on the chapters of The
Lord of the Rings
written during WWII

[34:40] Christopher’s return from the war and his involvement
with The Inklings

[37:01] The initial response to The
Silmarillion; impetus to edit History of

[43:17] J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis’s forays into science

[47:47] What we learn from Tolkien’s early drafts presented in
The History of Middle-Earth

[55:15] Christopher’s academic career, separate from his
father’s writing 

[58:00] The Children of Hurin, Beren and
, and The Fall of Gondolin

[1:00:19] John and Thomas’s favorite posthumous publication from
Tolkien, The Children of Húrin

[1:03:10] Tolkien’s exploration of his own creativity and flaws
through his characters

[1:06:01] Two recommendations for informed Tolkien fans looking
to go deeper


John Garth’s obituary of Christopher Tolkien

John Garth’s website 

John Garth, Tolkien and the Great War

If you haven’t read it yet, The Silmarillion

John’s recommendations for “advanced” Tolkien study:

The Monsters and the Critics and other Essays

The Fall of Gondolin

Online Great Books discount link

Episode 27: interview with OGB founder Scott Hambrick

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