J.R.R. Tolkien Wrote The Lord of the Rings “to Keep C.S. Lewis Quiet”

C.S. Lewis’s first impressions of J.R.R. Tolkien were that he was a “smooth, pale, fluent little chap” and that there was “no harm in him: only needs a smack or so.” Their friendship would prosper, and The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings would change the landscape of fantasy and children’s literature.

Tolkien famously hated Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. By contrast, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings may never have been published if not for Lewis’s encouragement.

Professor Tolkien told me that he had been reading various genealogies and appendices to Lewis long before there was any written story. His interests, he told me, were primarily in those aspects of ‘Middle Earth’ and that it was his friend C. S., or ‘Jack’, Lewis who encouraged him to write a story to go with them. ‘You know Jack,’ he said to me. ‘He had to have a story! And that story—The Lord of the Rings—was written to keep him quiet!’ It is, as it was meant to be, a generous and telling tribute.

Walter Hooper

Lewis publicly praised Tolkien’s The Hobbit when it was first published:

To define the world of The Hobbit is, of course, impossible, because it is new. You cannot anticipate it before you go there, as you cannot forget it once you have gone. […] Prediction is dangerous: but The Hobbit may well prove a classic.

C.S. Lewis, 1937

Lewis was even more enthusiastic about The Lord of the Rings:

[The Lord of the Rings] is like lightning from a clear sky; as sharply different, as unpredictable in our age as Songs of Innocence were in theirs. […] When I reviewed the first volume of this work I hardly dared to hope it would have the success which I was sure it deserved. Happily I am proved wrong.

C.S. Lewis, 1954

Season 1 of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is now streaming on Amazon Prime.

Look for “Did You Know” articles on NarniaWeb on the first of every month.

3 Responses

  1. C.M.Granger says:

    The Rings of Power is Tolkien thievery and neither CSL nor JRRT would have approved of the dumpster fire Amazon has produced.

  2. EJH says:

    I´m so thankful that Tolkien wrote The Lord of the Rings and that Lewis encouraged him. They were geniuses.