It is with great sadness that we can confirm that Tolkien’s son and literary executor Christopher Tolkien has died at the age of 95.
Christopher John Reuel Tolkien was born in Leeds, United Kingdom, on 21 November 1924. After a childhood in Oxford, he joined the RAF during the Second World War and was stationed to South Africa. After the war, he finished his studies and became a lecturer in Old and Middle English as well as Old Icelandic at the University of Oxford. After his father’s death in 1973, he became the literary executor of the Tolkien Estate and went on to edit and publish his father’s unpublished material starting with Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl and Sir Orfeo in 1975, closely followed by The Silmarillion in 1977 and ending with The Fall of Gondolin in 2018.
Upon hearing the news, Tolkien Society Chair, Shaun Gunner, said:
All of us in the Tolkien Society will share in the sadness at the news of Christopher Tolkien’s death, and we send our condolences to Baillie, Simon, Adam, Rachel and the whole Tolkien family at this difficult time. Christopher’s commitment to his father’s works have seen dozens of publications released, and his own work as an academic in Oxford demonstrates his ability and skill as a scholar. Millions of people around the world will be forever grateful to Christopher for bringing us The Silmarillion, The Children of Húrin, The History of Middle-earth series and many others. We have lost a titan and he will be sorely missed.
Tolkien scholar Dr Dimitra Fimi reflected on Christopher’s academic contribution:
Tolkien studies would never be what it is today without Christopher Tolkien’s contribution. From editing The Silmarillion to the mammoth task of giving us the History of Middle-earth series, he revealed his father’s grand vision of a rich and complex mythology. He gave us a window into Tolkien’s creative process, and he provided scholarly commentary that enriched our understanding of Middle-earth. He was Middle-earth’s cartographer and first scholar.
The Tolkien Society sends its deepest condolences to the Tolkien family.
John Garth, The Guardian
Katharine Q. Seelye and Alan Yuhas, The New York Times
German Tolkien Society, Christopher Tolkien — The Last Goodbye
The Times [Paywall]