Lot of correspondence between J.R.R. Tolkien and Timothy J. Wheeler for sale at Tolkien Library Store (Last updated 2.12.07 by Pieter Collier) - Comments

Timothy J. Wheeler wrote letters with Tolkien Timothy J. Wheeler corresponded with J.R.R. Tolkien in late 1965 and begin 1966. He was the founder of the Rally Magazine, a journal four young conservatives that ran from 1964 to 1967, which was a sort of a triple-A farm team for National Review (1); many later-prominent conservative writers had their first pieces published in Rally.
He worked for the Conservative Book Club in New Rochelle from 1967 to 1970 and later moved to Indiana, where he became speech writer for Richard Roudebush, a U.S. Senate candidate (2).
Thimothy J. Wheeler, May 1967, Wauwatosa, WI

He joined the staff of the Saturday Evening Post and Holiday Magazine , co-produced the Financial Book Digest and wrote extensively for the Silver and Gold Report (2).

Two issues of Rally, August 1966 and July-August 1967, had an essay by Jared Lobdell on Tolkien. Thimothy J. Wheeler did write to Tolkien and must have sent them these two issues as will be discussed in this article.

I'm very proud to be able to offer up for sale a lot of correspondence between J.R.R. Tolkien and Timothy J. Wheeler. This lot includes two letters by J.R.R. Tolkien to T.J. Wheeler, a letter by Tolkien's assistant and the rare article by Jared Lobdell from the August 1966 issue of Rally. In this lot is also the original sketch of J.R.R. Tolkien used to illustrate the article, a carbon copy of a letter to J.R.R. Tolkien and a 2 page typed letter to Christopher Tolkien talking about the Tolkien related Rally issues and a visit of Christopher Tolkien to Mythcon.

This article will have a close look on the items inside the lot and make some side notes .

Tolkien Letter October 1965 Letter 1:

Typed Letter Signed, one page, 76 Sandfield Road, Oxford letterhead, 20 October 1965, signed by J.R.R. Tolkien. Accompanied by the original mailing envelope. In fine, clean condition.

This is a fine example of a J.R.R. Tokien autographed typed letter. It mentions the publication of the three paperback volumes by Ballantine Books:
"Thank you for your interest and support. Ballantine Books is about to bring out a paper-back edition revised by myself. This should make it worth the few cents difference in price, of which I shall receive about one third."

Adding a note on the Ace Books:
P.S. It must be noted that Ace Books are acting legally, whether morally or not, and purchasers of their edition have no claim in law to a return of money.


On 20 October 1965, Tolkien did at least write one other letter (3). This letter was to Clyde S. Kilby, the founder and first curator of the Marion E. Wade Collection and one of the earliest C.S. Lewis scholars; he designed and taught a popular course on the mythopoeic works of C.S. Lewis and other authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien.

From 5 to 15 October Tolkien was away from Oxford, possibly to Bournemouth, where he developped a poisoned left arm and had to return to Oxford. There a heap of letters had arrived because there was a constant stream of fan mail that had been autimatically forwarded by George Allen & Unwin. On the 25th of October Rayner Unwin proposed to deal with some of the mail rather then forward it all (3). Yet, we know Joy Hill did already take care of a lot of Tolkien's fan mail by mid 1965, which arrived in huge quantities (4). For example on 21 september 1965, she forwarded a batch of answered letters to Tolkien (5). It is a possibibility that this letter had been answered by Joy Hill (or even by Phyllis M. Jenkinson, Tolkien's assitant) and that Tolkien corrected the mistake in "Ballantyne", by changing the "y" in a "i". The signature is a very fine example of a 1965 Tolkien autograph and moves slowly towards Tolkien most famous flourishing signature; which he started to use in early 1966.

Tolkien Letter January 10 1966 Letter 2:

Typed Letter Signed, TLS, one page, 76 Sandfield Road, Oxford letterhead, 10th January 1966, signed by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Accompanied by the original mailing envelope. In fine, clean condition.

Letter two shows a wonderful flourishing 1966 Tolkien signature in a typical letter (with typical answer) from Tolkien around this period; where he was very uncertain he would ever complete another book on his beloved Middle-earth.


Late 1965 and begin 1966, J.R.R. Tolkien received too much of fan correspondence to be able to work on any more Middle-earth related writing.

Tolkien writes:
"Thank you for your letter. I hope you will not think that I am ungrateful for your attention and good wishes if I say that I do not feel able to write anything such as you wish. I do wish you well, but I do not think that I would really do you much good to have special good wishes from me."

On 7 January 1966, three days before writing the letter to Timothy J. Wheeler, Tolkien wrote to Benjamin P. Indick something very similar: "Indeed, if I am ever to produce any more of the stories which you ask for, that can only be done by failing to answer letters" (5).

The comment at the end of this short letter about his "special good wishes" being of little use to Wheeler is a little odd, and I'm sure a lot of people can speculate on this. Maybe it is a linguistic joke or a reply to something Wheeler wrote; I suppose we will never know.

A letter by Tolkien's assistant signe P.M.J. Letter 3:

Typed Letter Signed, one page, 76 Sandfield Road, Oxford letterhead, 1st August 1966, signed by Phyllis M. Jenkinson (Tolkien's assistant). Accompanied by the original mailing envelope. In fine, clean condition.

A nice example of a letter by Tolkien's assistant Phyllis M. Jenkinson, who signed the letter with P.M.J. She was helping Tolkien out answering a lot of his (fan) correspondence. She writes:

Thank you so much for sending me the copy of RALLY.

On 6 December 1965 the first known letter was sent out using the signature P.M.J., a letter to Rayner Unwin. Phyllis M. Jenkinson became Tolkien's secretary around this time and stayd in this position until July 1968, when Tolkien moved to Poole. She had spent seven years before that assisting Lord David Cecil (7).

Words That Sound Like Castles in August 1966 issue of Ralley Magazine In letter 3, Phyllis M. Jenkinson thanks for a copy of Rally, this is probably the August 1966 issue of Rally, in which was the essay by Jared Lobdell called "Words That Sound Like Castles" (8). The article praises Tolkien's creation of languages and histories for his characters. It is very hard to find and therefor a highly collectable ephemera.

"Words That Sound Like Castles" is also the title Jared Lobdell used for a better known and completely different article one year later, in 1967, when he wrote a review of the second edition of The Lord of the Rings for "National Review" (9, 10 ).
1965 Tolkien sketch Sketch of J.R.R. Tolkien

The original sketch of J.R.R. Tolkien used to illustrate the essay by Jared Lobdell in the August 1966 issue of Ralley. The artist is unknown, but I'm trying to find out more info about him (or her). Jared Lobdell himself thinks it might have been someone related to the National Review; but it is still uncertain if this is correct.

The sketch is made in charcoal and drawn on a heavy composition board. It portrays Tolkien and is copied from a photgraph by Pamela Chandler, which was used for "English and Medieval Studies Presented to JRR Tolkien on the Occassion of his Seventieth Birthday" by Allen & Unwin in 1962", which has a facsimile Tolkien signature. A postcard of this photograph is available, in a set of eight, from Tolkien Society Trading. (thanks to Garm for this info)

All information on the artist of this sketch is more then welcome.

Also in this lot is a 2 page typed letter to Christopher Tolkien, written by Timothy J. Wheeler on July 27, 1987, mentioning the essays by Jared Lobdell about J.R.R. Tolkien in Rally Magazine and the visit of Christopher Tolkien at Mythcon.

Carbon copy Tolkien letter The last, and maybe strangest item in this lot, is a carbon copy of a letter to J.R.R. Tolkien dated 22 August 1966, written by Timothy J. Wheeler. mentioning the August 1966 article of Jared Lobdell in Rally. This is odd, because 22 August cannot be a correct date at all. Timothy J. Wheeler received a thank you letter from Tolkien's assistant on the 1st of August to thank him for the August issue of Rally. It might of course be that Timothy Wheeler was not happy to receive an answer by Tolkien's assistant, having had two replies before; and there for started a new letter. Who will know?


Letters from Tolkien are quite uncommon and highly coveted; typed signed examples which have a connection to rare Tolkien Ephemera have become scarce. This lot would be a very great addition to any Tolkien collection.

(1) Timothy J. Wheeler R.I.P. (National Review, obituary, 10 september 2007).
(2) Timothy J. Wheeler (Three Lakes, Wisconsin obituary).
(3) Christina Scull & Wayne, G. Hammond - 'The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide' (HarperCollinsPublishers, 2006), Vol. I, pp. [645].
(4) Christina Scull & Wayne, G. Hammond - 'The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide' (HarperCollinsPublishers, 2006), Vol. II, pp. [366-367].
(5) Christina Scull & Wayne, G. Hammond - 'The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide' (HarperCollinsPublishers, 2006), Vol. I, pp. [644].
(6) Humphrey Carpenter & Christopher Tolkien - 'The Letters of JRR Tolkien' (George Allen & Unwin, 1981), pp. [366], letter 283.
(7) Christina Scull & Wayne, G. Hammond - 'The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide' (HarperCollinsPublishers, 2006), Vol. I, pp. [648].
(8) Jared Lobdell - 'Words That Sound Like Castles' - (in Rally Magazine, Milwauki, 1, N°3, August 1966), pp. [24-26].
(9) Jared Lobdell - 'Words That Sound Like Castles' - ( in National Review, 5 September 1967), pp. [972-974].
(10) Richard C. West - 'Tolkien Criticism: An Annotated Checklist Revised Edition' (The kent University Press, 1981), pp. [82-83].

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