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The perils of literature…

Tolkien claimed to be genuinely surprised when, in March 1956, he received a letter from one Sam Gamgee, who had heard that his name was in The Lord of the Rings but had not read the book. Tolkien replied on March 18:

“Dear Mr. Gamgee,
It was very kind of you to write. You can imagine my astonishment when I saw your signature! I can only say, for your comfort, I hope, that the ‘Sam Gamgee’ of my story is a most heroic character, now widely beloved by many readers, even though his origins are rustic. So that perhaps you will not be displeased at the coincidence of the name of this imaginary character of supposedly many centuries ago being the same as yours.”

He sent Gamgee a signed copy of all three volumes of the book [got to be worth a few quid now]. However, the incident sparked a nagging worry in Tolkien’s mind, as he recorded in his journal:

“For some time I lived in fear of receiving a letter signed ‘S. Gollum’. That would have been more difficult to deal with.”

The more Tolkien I read the more I like the man. And yes, I can imagine corresponding with a Mr Gollum would be a trial.

From Wikipedia.


  1. Angry Exile says:

    What name is really on Ed Balls’ birth certificate?

  2. JuliaM says:

    Brilliant anecdote! :)

    Wouldn’t want to be Thomas Harris, and receive a letter from Mr H Lecter, though….

  3. NickM says:

    I think it rhymes with “Deagol”. And that was his “precious” not the other Ed. Milliband we hates you forever!

  4. Lynne says:

    Nah. I think you’ll find it’s Grima Wormtongue. On the other hand maybe that’s iDave’s secret identity. Brown is clearly Grishnakh.

  5. Chalcedon says:

    Reminds me of the Artemis Jones case. Artemis was a barrister you see and didn’t like his name being used in literature. Look him up.

  6. Steve Auron says:

    You have no idea how tough Prof. Tolkein has made it for me to become a Scout Master.

  7. Chalcedon says:

    That would be Artemus Jones back in 1910

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