Lord of the Rings protector Christopher Tolkien dies at 95

Christopher Tolkien, who played a major role protecting the legacy of his father's The Lord of the Rings series, has died. He was 95.

Helped edit, publish work like The Silmarillion, The Children Of Hurin

Christopher Tolkien is seen speaking at a Tolkien-related event in Aubusson, France in January 2019. The youngest son of J.R.R. Tolkien and a major protector of the legacy of his father's The Lord of the Rings series has died at the age of 95. (Cité internationale de la tapisserie Aubusson/YouTube)

Christopher Tolkien, who played a major role protecting the legacy of his father's The Lord of the Rings trilogy, has died. He was 95.

The Tolkien Society and publisher HarperCollins UK confirmed Tolkien's death. The Centre Hospitalier de la Dracénie, a hospital in southern France, said the son of author J.R.R. Tolkien died there Thursday.

Tolkien's life work was closely identified with that of his father, J.R.R. Tolkien.

The writer's youngest son, he helped edit and publish much of his father's writings after the science fiction and fantasy master died in 1973.

Among the books he worked on were The Silmarillion, The Children Of Hurin, and other texts that flesh out the complex world his father created. He also drew the original maps that adorned the three Lord of the Rings books — The Fellowship of the RingThe Two Towers and The Return of the King — when they were published in the 1950s.

Tolkien Society chairman Shaun Gunner said "millions of people around the world will be forever grateful to Christopher for bringing us" so many of his father's literary works.

"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," he said.

"We have lost a titan and he will be sorely missed."

J.R.R. Tolkien scholar Dimitra Fimi said Christopher Tolkien helped the public understand his father's works.

"Tolkien studies would never be what it is today without Christopher Tolkien's contribution," she said.

"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."

The newspaper for the Var region in southern France, Var Matin, said Tolkien and his wife Baillie had lived quietly on the edge of the village of Aups since 1975.

No funeral date has been set, the newspaper said.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?