C.S. Lewis Read Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ Years Before Release

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Much has been written about the famed friendship between two literary greats, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s been the subject of many books, documentaries, and even a handful of attempted films. But their relationship goes much deeper than many realize.

The pair met at Oxford in 1929 and, after a contentious first meeting, soon became fast friends. They bonded over a shared interest in languages, storytelling, and myth. Both aspiring authors, they would serve as one another’s earliest readers.

By 1932, Tolkien finished much of ‘The Hobbit’ but had reached a standstill with the story following Smaug’s demise. It was then that Tolkien permitted Lewis to read a copy, and to his surprise, Lewis loved it. In a letter to a close friend, Lewis wrote,  “Since term began I have had a delightful time reading a children’s story which Tolkien has just written.”

It was still 5 years until the general public would be introduced to the world of Middle Earth after much support and encouragement from Lewis.

The unpayable debt that I owe to [Lewis] was not ‘influence’ as it is ordinarily understood, but sheer encouragement. He was for long my only audience. Only from him did I ever get the idea that my ‘stuff’ could be more than a private hobby”

J.R.R. Tolkien

You can read Lewis’s original published review from 1937 here.

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2 Responses

  1. coracle says:

    I love how he used the word ‘inkling’ in the middle of the review. A little in-joke, perhaps?

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