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The Telegraph interview from 1968: “The Man Who Understands Hobbits”

British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, has re-released online its 1968 interview with J.R.R. Tolkien, originally titled “The Man Who Understands Hobbits”.

The interview, by Charlotte and Denis Plinner, was conducted on 30 November 1966 but wasn’t published until 22 March 1968. The interview includes some interesting observations by Tolkien which followed up in a letter to the interviewers (294 in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien). In the interview he talks about the history of creations, success, his relationship with C.S. Lewis, and filming The Lord of the Rings.

In the interview he remarks about Shelob: “The female monster is cer­tainly no deadlier than the male, but she is different. She is a sucking, strangling, trapping creature.” He goes on to talk about success: “I never expected a money success. In fact, I never even thought of commercial publication when I wrote The Hobbit back in the Thirties.

He feels strongly that the Ring should not be filmed: “You can’t cramp narrative into dramatic form. It would be easier to film The Odyssey. Much less happens in it. Only a few storms.”

Finally, Sir Stanley Unwin, publisher of The Lord of the Rings, said: “Of all the books I’ve brought out in 63 years, there are few that I can say with absolute confidence will sell long after my departure. Of this one I had no doubts.

You can read the full interview here.

About the Author: Shaun Gunner

Shaun is the current Chair of The Tolkien Society. Elected in 2013, Shaun regularly speaks about adaptations of Tolkien’s works whilst passionately believing the Society needs to reach out to new audiences. In his spare time can be found in the cinema, playing video games and Lego, or on Twitter.


  • This is the whole interview from 1968, but they have missed one of my favourite parts from the original magazine.

    Underneath a photo of Tolkien by Roger Hill on page 35, is the title “EVERY morning I wake up thinking, ‘Good, another 24 hours of smoking'” 🙂