“(…) Something has gone crack.” Christopher Tolkien dies at the age of 95

Books edited by CJRT (c) HarperCollins
Books edited by CJRT (c) HarperCollins

A local French newspaper broke the news today that Christopher Tolkien has passed away last night at the age of 95. Tolkien who had for many years lived in the French department Var in the south-east of France was hospitalised last week and died at the Centre Hospitalier de la Dracénie in Draguignan. According to the newspaper he had become a naturalised citizen of France and wished to be interred there. No funeral arrangements have been publicised so far.

An era has come to an end

In a letter to his friends of the T.C.B.S. J.R.R. Tolkien noted after Rob Gilson’s death in World War I:

So far my chief impression is that something has gone crack.

And this is how I feel right now. After a horrible year during which I thought life couldn’t throw worse things at me the loss of Christopher John Reuel Tolkien is devastating and …

this feels like an axe-blow near the roots. [26 November 1963, Letter by J.R.R. Tolkien on the death of C.S. Lewis.]

Tolkien fandom and scholarship has been in an unique position as no other author of note has had such a literary legacy as J.R.R. Tolkien, all thanks to the effort of his son Christopher. The History of Middle-earth is an incomparable achievement, offering insights no other scholar could have provided the way the literary executor to J.R.R. Tolkien has done. The Children of Húrin, The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún, The Fall of Arthur, Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, Beren and Lúthien and The Fall of Gondolin showed the wider public a creativity and scholarly feats which might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Some people have argued Christopher Tolkien lived and worked in the shadow of a much more successful father but to me this is not true. A scholar in his own right, he brought something to the table nobody else could have done and thanks to him publications have seen the light which lend evidence to an unique father-son-relationship that has entertained, fascinated and inspired fans and scholars alike for decades in the past – and will continue to do for decades to come.

My deepest condolences to the family and friends.

His last public appearance happened in appreciation for the Tolkien Tapestries project underway right now with the Cité internationale de la tapisserie Aubusson.

Marcel R. Bülles

Marcel R. Bülles is the author of thetolkienist.com, a specialist blog centering on worldwide Tolkien fandom, geekdom and research. He works as a freelance translator, journalist and writer and is the founder of the German Tolkien Society as well as a co-founder to RingCon, Europe's formerly biggest fantasy film convention. You can find him in cafés all over the world sipping an espresso blogging, writing, reading. At one point he was married to an extremely lovely French lady by the nickname of Sauron. Yes, that Sauron. He is also active with the International Tolkien Fellowship on Facebook and the Tolkien Folk on Instagram.