Other literary forms
The novels that J. R. R. Tolkien (TAHL-keen) produced represent only a small part of the complicated matrix from which they evolved. During Tolkien’s lifetime, he published three volumes of novellas and short stories, Farmer Giles of Ham (1949), Tree and Leaf (1964), and Smith of Wootton Major (1967). Some of these tales had originally been bedtime stories for his own children, such as those in the posthumously published The Father Christmas Letters (1976) and Roverandom (1998). The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-Earth (1980) both contain stories Tolkien composed early in his life, material that sets the stage for the events in his novels. His poetry collections, Songs for the Philologists (1936), The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (1962), and The Road Goes Ever On: A Song Cycle (1967), link Tolkien’s poetic formulations of Middle-earth’s themes with the historical and linguistic themes of which both his professional work and much of his dreams were made, “the nameless North of Sigurd of the Völsungs, and the prince of all dragons.” Tolkien’s academic publications dealt with the history of the English language and Middle English literature: A Middle English Vocabulary (1922) and editions of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1925; with E. V. Gordon) and the Ancrene Wisse (1962). His seminal essay “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics” (1936) and his only play, The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm’s Son (pb. 1953), offer fresh interpretations of ancient English epic poems.
Tolkien’s novels have been adapted for cinema and television, and many, though not all, of his fragmentary stories, articles, and letters have been published since his death. His histories of Middle-earth, a remarkable invented mythology comprising chronicles, tales, maps, and poems, were edited as a series by his son, Christopher Tolkien. Volumes include The Book of Lost Tales, The Lays of Beleriand, The Shaping of Middle-Earth, and The Lost Road, and Other Writings.