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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 Chair of The Tolkien Society. First elected in 2013, Shaun has overseen the Society's expansion from 600 to 3,500 members. Shaun regularly speaks about adaptations of Tolkien's works and the future of Tolkien scholarship whilst passionately believing the Society needs to reach out to new audiences. In his spare time he can be found playing video games and Lego, or on Twitter. He chaired another charity, Mankind, and is a local councillor.