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British Library to preserve earliest known Tolkien voice recording from 1929

The British Library is set to preserve a recording of Tolkien’s voice from 1929 as part of its “Save our Sounds” project.

The British Library aims to “preserve as much as possible of the nation’s rare and unique sound recordings” which are under threat “both from physical degradation and as the means of playing them disappear from production”.

The recording in question was made for the Linguaphone Conversational Course in English, and features both Prof A. Lloyd James and Prof J.R.R. Tolkien. Tolkien introduces the piece, discussing the topic of a London Tobacconist’s and is later joined by James in a short dialogue replicating the interaction between a Tobacconist and his customer.

Tolkien scholars Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull dated the recording as June 1930 in their J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, but have since corrected it to July 1929 in line with the data provided on the British Library’s website.

You can listen to the recording on the British Library’s website.

About the Author: Daniel Helen

Daniel is an Officer without Portfolio and Trustee of The Tolkien Society. Elected in 2014, he is mainly responsible for the Society’s digital operations, including this website.


  • Janet Georgiou

    This is wonderful news, but the London tobacconist’s what? 😉

  • Arhi Mith

    London tobacconist’s shop ^)

  • Jay Johnstone

    This is what it looks like, got one for my birthday in November….