Christopher Tolkien's Greatest Achievements

Christopher Tolkien/Charles E. Noad
Charles E. Noad

Fans of the Middle Earth lore are in mourning. Christopher Tolkien, the third son of the author of the masterpieces of fantasy literature The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, has died at the age of 95.

Christopher Tolkien's contribution to the creation of his father's work is so fundamental that without it we would not know the mythology, stories, characters, maps, and detailed information about the universe of Middle Earth.

J.R.R. Tolkien published The Hobbit in 1932 and the trilogy of The Lord of the Rings between 1954 and 1955; but much of his work remained unfinished and remained in the form mere drafts, letters, notes, and stories that were left unconnected after his death. It was Christopher Tolkien who collected, organized, interpreted and published his father's work under the presidency of the Tolkien Society. Thanks to his work, today humanity can the rich universe that the mind of Tolkien Sr. devised.

Published The Silmarillion

The Silmarillion is one of Christopher Tolkien's great contributions. It is a great mythological tale that tells the story of the origins of Middle Earth: how Ilúvatar (who eventually becomes God) created the Ainur (something like the angels) and how they played the music that would lead to the creation of the Earth and the first creatures that inhabited it. Ainur came down to Middle Earth to help its inhabitants, and those who came down were called Valar. Gandalf is one of them. In addition, The Silmarillion presents the characters, events, and adventures that took place in the first and second ages of the world, long before the events recounted in The Lord of the Rings; among them, the fall of Morgoth, the evil incarnate and master of the villain Sauron.

However, when J.R.R. Tolkien died, he had only outlined this whole mythological and it was Christopher who edited it for publication. For some, The Silmarillion is an extensive (and illegible) treatise on mythology; but today we know that Tolkien Sr. would have liked to publish The Silmarillion as a much more extensive, action-packed series, whose main story would be that of Beren and Lúthien. 

He was the official cartographer of Middle Earth

The map showing the locations of events in Middle Earth was also created by Christopher Tolkien.

He published Unfinished Stories of Númenor and Middle Earth

These are a series of stories about Middle Earth that were never finished by the author in his lifetime. The stories and adventures in these tales are organized in chronological order, from the First Age to the Fourth Age.

He helped bring Tolkien's letters to light

Together with his father's biographer, Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher published Tolkien's letters, a total of 354 letters, dated between October 1914 and August 29, 1973, a few days before his death.

These letters reveal details, loose ends that Tolkien left in his works on which he reflected or changed his version. One example is the origin of the Orcs, for which three different possibilities are known, according to these letters. The most coherent version is that the Orcs were Mayans (as is Gandalf) who were corrupted by the evil of Morgoth, who reproduced with animals and men until they obtained their appearance. Contrary to what is shown in the films, the orcs were not born from the earth but reproduced sexually.

He published The Story of Middle Earth

The History of Middle-earth is a 13-volume collection that reveals detailed information about the lore of Tolkien's work. Christopher was responsible for collecting all kinds of notes and footnotes made by his father, resulting in this extensive work, which serves as an encyclopedia of Middle-earth.


He published The Sons of Hurin

This is one of the novels that J.R.R. Tolkien never published. It is set in the First Age of the Sun, in the land of Beleriand, and tells tales of the curse that the evil Morgoth places on the descendants of Hurin.


He published the story of Beren and Lúthien

This love story, in fact, was intended to be the main plot of The Silmarillion; and it inspires Aragorn's own love story with the elf Arwen. It tells how Beren, who was a man, falls hopelessly in love with the elven lady Lúthien, and how he is recommended to get the three silmarills, priceless jewels, to win her hand.


He published The Fall of Gondolin

Although it was published in 1917, it did not see the light until a century later; it was published in 2017, and it tells the story of how Tuor, a man of the house of Hador, managed to reach the hidden kingdom of Gondolin in the year 495 of the First Age of the Sun; an epic story of the pioneers of the kingdoms of men we would later meet in The Lord of the Rings.

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