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

06 Dec

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.


Posted by on 06/12/2013 in Children's Literature


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

  1. colemining

    06/12/2013 at 10:01

    This is one of my very favourite holiday books.


    • Ste J

      06/12/2013 at 10:06

      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.


  2. Al

    06/12/2013 at 12:37

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


    • Ste J

      06/12/2013 at 16:58

      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.


  3. gargoylebruce

    06/12/2013 at 13:04

    It is a great book – I think I did read it all in one go!


    • Ste J

      06/12/2013 at 16:56

      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.


  4. RoSy

    06/12/2013 at 22:31

    Sounds like this would be a book full of smiles!


    • Ste J

      08/12/2013 at 09:50

      That it is, any book with a clumsy polar bear gets my vote.


  5. Alastair Savage

    07/12/2013 at 01:22

    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,.


    • Ste J

      08/12/2013 at 09:59

      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.


  6. Cory

    07/12/2013 at 01:31

    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!


    • Ste J

      08/12/2013 at 09:57

      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.


  7. Claire 'Word by Word'

    07/12/2013 at 11:58

    Sounds wonderful, had not heard about this one!


    • Ste J

      08/12/2013 at 09:52

      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.


  8. quirkybooks

    07/12/2013 at 18:34

    A very festive post. I love Christmas and I always love your posts. Congratulations Set, I have nominated you for 2 awards.


    • Ste J

      08/12/2013 at 09:55

      Thank you very much…Christmas truly id the time of giving and receiving!


      • quirkybooks

        08/12/2013 at 11:26

        Absolutely. I enjoy both. It is so nice after receiving this many awards to give some back to others.


  9. anna amundsen

    11/12/2013 at 10:01

    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.. 😦


    • Ste J

      13/12/2013 at 11:29

      Remind me next year and I will get it for you my friend!


      • anna amundsen

        15/12/2013 at 10:56

        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.


        • Ste J

          15/12/2013 at 14:01

          Well I like to be cheap so you have made my day. Hehe.


  10. angela

    11/12/2013 at 18:33

    What a delightful book – wish I had known of this when a child for it would have been a yearly treasure!


    • Ste J

      13/12/2013 at 11:28

      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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