Christopher Tolkien, literary executor of the Tolkien Estate (and son of JRR), has passed away in France of old age aged 95.
The chair of the Tolkien Society, Shaun Gunner, commented, “All of us in the Tolkien Society will share in the sadness at the news of Christopher Tolkien’s death, and we send our condolences to Baillie, Simon, Adam, Rachel and the whole Tolkien family at this difficult time. Christopher’s commitment to his father’s works have seen dozens of publications released, and his own work as an academic in Oxford demonstrates his ability and skill as a scholar. Millions of people around the world will be forever grateful to Christopher for bringing us The Silmarillion, The Children of Húrin, The History of Middle-earth series and many others. We have lost a titan and he will be sorely missed.”
We’re not entirely sure who will replace Christopher in running the estate – but given Amazon Studio’s upcoming new TV series set in the Middle Earth universe, it might be time for some fresh ideas and a massive wide expansion of the estate’s activities.
Chris drew the original maps for his father’s The Lord of the Rings and was behind the release of such previously warehoused books as The Silmarillion and The Fall of Gondolin.
He wasn’t the biggest fan of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson, saying, “They gutted the book, making an action film for 15 to 25-year-olds.” In Christopher’s private screening for the first of the three films, he turned his back on the screen and sat gruffly facing reverse for the entire movie.
In 2008 he sued New Line Cinema for allegedly being chiselled out of £80 million in unpaid royalties (an undisclosed settlement was reached out of court a year later). New Line needed to pay to secure the agreement for the Hobbit films, of course.
His home in France had an interesting menagerie of animals said to attack visiting dignitaries with gusto. Whether he encouraged this behaviour, we’re not sure, but he was an intensely private individual and a one-of-a-kind.
Goodbye, Christopher, hope you find peace in the Undying Lands with the elves and your father.