Letters From Father Christmas – J. R. R. Tolkien

c10830 That time of year is fast approaching again and it couldn’t have come sooner for this post, as I meant to review this treat last year and then forgot for whatever reason it was that I forgot.  I forget now what that was.

Christmas, it seems then, is on the way and so in my extremely low paid job as your official present advisor – we really should talk about a pay rise – I have, after much tough research, come up with this book, which is a brilliant choice, if I do say so myself and I do for I am always right and very humble about it.

Every December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J.R.R.Tolkien’s children. Inside would be a letter in strange spidery handwriting and a beautiful coloured drawing or some sketches. The letters were from Father Christmas.

They told wonderful tales of life at the North Pole: how all the reindeer got loose and scattered presents all over the place; how the accident-prone Polar Bear climbed the North Pole and fell through the roof of Father Christmas’s house into the dining-room; how he broke the Moon into four pieces and made the Man in it fall into the back garden; how there were wars with the troublesome horde of goblins who lived in the caves beneath the house!

Sometimes the Polar Bear would scrawl a note, and sometimes Ilbereth the Elf would write in his elegant flowing script, adding yet more life and humour to the stories. No reader, young or old, can fail to be charmed by the inventiveness and ‘authenticity’ of Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas.

Tolkien’s creative side has incredible depth as we all know, so the time he took to craft these letters should not surprising in itself.   First off they start out short and fairly skimpy, but once he gets into his stride and his children get older, of course, the range of artwork and his storytelling really comes to the fore. The letters themselves have been crafted to have a very authentic look about them, one imagines the originals would have something of the inordinately exhilarating about them when that years envelope arrived.

These wonderful, gentle tales of fun and whimsy are great to dip into but it’s almost too tempting – and easy – to devour them all in one go. The lovely illustrations coupled with the wonderful cursive script give weight to the lavish feel of the whole project.  Some of the words can be a little hard to decipher though, at times,  but on the opposite page the text is clearly printed so this doesn’t become an issue and allows you to peruse conveniently and still remain absorbed in the mood.

Not only will children be enchanted and immersed into these letters, but adults will get to relive the magic that seems to have been grated away due to the commercial, capitalistic and downright terrible part of Christmas.  This is one book then, that you can treasure and know will be treasured by others, with its very innocent hi-jinks and magical, colourful mood that feels full of history as is Tolkien’s way.

Perhaps this is a great christmas present for somebody else…if you haven’t already treated yourself to this one, after all the usual stress.  I would advise you get the bigger book though, it just looks so much more superior and makes things much more arresting.

24 Replies to “Letters From Father Christmas – J. R. R. Tolkien”

    1. I try to read it most years as well, that and one of the Garfield ones, although I haven’t seen that for a few years, I think my mum kept that when I moved out.

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  1. How wonderful 🙂 Puts the letters I used to write to my kids from Father Christmas to shame 🙂 He did have such a wondrous imagination.

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    1. I would give someone else’s left arm to have a fifth of Tolkien’s creativity. I know what you mean about putting to shame…I feel like that when I try anything to do with any of his creative fields lol.

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    1. It’s so absorbing that you feel compelled to just read it all at once. I did sulk at the end until I realised I was going to read it again the year after.

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  2. I had heard of this book but never thought of reading it before. It sounds wonderful with those letters arriving from the North Pole. As usual, Tolkein is drawing on his knowledge of old English here. The letter featuring the Man in the Moon sounds like it’s a reworking of a Medieval poem written in old English, also called The Man in the Moon,.

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    1. Beyond coincidence that! He makes allusions to the war going on at the time as well in his letters, obliquely of course. There are all sorts of old skool motifs going on, it adds layers to try and spot them.

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  3. What a wonderful book! I had no idea this existed, I must track it down. I’m currently reading A Christmas Carol, illustrated by Quentin Blake. Christmas books always have the best illustrations, and they feel that bit more special with them. Great stuff!

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    1. I didn’t either until I started picking up his entire back catalogue years ago, took me ages to track it down in a shop…as I don’t trust the internet still. I love A Christmas Carol, a very tight short story and atmospheric…and Quentin Blake, vry distinctive drawing style, I shall go check out how he tailors his style to this one.

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    1. I only came across it when trawling through his back catalogue of books I didn’t own. I hope it gets more coverage now the second Hobbit film is coming out…although after the first underwhelming film I hope it doesn’t turn to many people off taking a punt.

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  4. Even though I don’t celebrate Christmas I still want this book as a Christmas present.. It sounds delightful! Maybe next year since I have already spent my book allowance for December.. 😦

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      1. Oh, I couldn’t do it.. It would be most uncomfortable to my introverted self.. But, thank you nevertheless – your words made me as happy as would the actual present.

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    1. Me too, I finally came across it when I was twenty something but it’s never to late to recapture that Christmas feeling of yesteryear.

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