Without Christopher Tolkien (21 November 1926 - 16 January 2020), the world of Tolkien studies and our understanding of his vast expanse of imagination would not have been like now. So bear with my thread for a while.

📷: Dakin Andone
1. Christopher was Tolkien's number one fan, the one most understand his father's work after Tolkien himself. Starting from listening to tales of Bilbo Baggins as a kid, he assisted Tolkien in drawing maps and giving feedback during the 15-year gestation of Lord of the Rings.
2. He briefly served in Royal Air Force, but it didn't stop his contribution to Tolkien's writing in LOTR, since his father kept sending him parts of LOTR manuscripts. In 1945, he joined The Inklings literary club following Tolkien, where he read parts of LOTR manuscripts.
3. His most important roles were gathering Tolkien's unfinished stories and manuscripts after his father's death in 1973, before editing and publishing them. To do the job, he retired from his position as an editor and Fellow of New College, Oxford.
4. I've seen people made jokes about Tolkien's books kept being churned out for money, but no one I think really understand the amount of works that Christopher did to piece together, edit, and assemble those manuscripts into readable materials.
5. It was a lifetime work. Tolkien was not a neat note-taker, known for hoarding old manuscripts. Some written on odd scraps of paper; drafts written over half-erased first draft; characters' names routinely changed, you name it. Those things occupied dozens of large boxes.
6. The Silmarillion had been Tolkien's dream to publish, something his publisher had rejected. Christopher finally managed to publish his father's dream four years after his death in 1973. During that time, he also edited Tolkien's Arthurian poems.
7. The largest editing work is of course The History of Middle-earth, 13 books of manuscripts showing us the detailed evolution of Tolkien's writing and world building efforts, a crucial contribution to Tolkien studies field. Those books alone took around 16 years to finish.
8. His other works include Unfinished Tales, Beren and Luthien, non legendarium like The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun, Beowulf, The Fall of Arthur, and nonfiction like The Monsters and the Critics. He worked with Humphrey Carpenter to do Tolkien's biography and letter collection.
9. One of the biggest surprises from him was when he announced his retirement from Tolkien Estate in 2017, but turned out he was secretly working on The Fall of Gondolin. When it was announced on March 2018, everyone thought it was April Mop joke. But no! He did surprise us! 😆
10. As far as I knew, he was always quiet, a type of no-fanfare person, rarely making splash in media. He earned Bodley Medal in 2016, along with Professor Mary Beard and Dame Maggie Smith. His reaction: a short, polite thank you before going back to work.
11. Reading History of Middle-earth is a hard work, but for me, it feels like uncovering the magical shroud of Tolkien's world and the way he slowly built it, including all his mistakes, doubts, and even ridiculous-sounding ideas he scrapped but had no heart to remove.
12. Hearing the death of Christopher was surprisingly devastating. He was the one responsible for the personal, intellectual, and casual enjoyment I experience with Tolkien. He showed me the way a world was built. I raise my cup today for him. Happy birthday and rest in peace.
Typo: 1924, not 1926!

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