Unbound. A collection of Six Typed Letters Signed from J.R.R. Tolkien and one Autograph Letter Signed by his wife, Edith Tolkien to Sterling E. Lanier, written between 1965 and 1973. The letters were sent to Lanier, an author, sculptor, and editor at Chilton Books, who had notably persuaded the automotive manual publishing company to publish Frank Herbert’s *Dune*. The letters cover a range of subjects including figurines Lanier made of *The Lord of the Rings* characters and gifted to Tolkien; piracy issues that Tolkien was dealing with in America; the death of his wife, Edith; the writing of *The Silmarillion*; and acknowledgments of books and newsletters that Lanier had sent to him. The letters are near fine with some edgewear and folds from mailing.
The correspondence began in 1965 when Lanier sent a letter to Tolkien with an accompanying package of his handcrafted figures based on characters from *The Lord of the Rings*. Lanier asked whether he could have the approval of Tolkien to market them resulting in the two exchanging letters and becoming friendly, with Tolkien fully supporting the figures: “They are in a wholly different class to many things that are often marketed without my permission.” In a later letter Tolkien writes, "I recently, after my wife’s death, moved back to Oxford…I have a feeling, though I hope not justified, that I have never written to you to thank you for your set of bronze figures. They survived the move and are now on display in a cabinet. I prize them, and they have been much admired.” The figures appear to never have been mass produced, hitting a snag due to legal issues related to United Artists who owned the rights.
In a letter from the end of 1965 Tolkien writes, "I at last received a letter direct from Ace Books, very specious and slightly glutinous, but it offered to discuss terms for royalties." Apparently, Lanier had been assisting Tolkien on confronting Ace Books, the company that had released an unauthorized edition of *The Lord of the Rings*. Lanier also sent Tolkien several science fiction newsletters, and two books, including a copy of *Dune*. The publisher Chilton had only recently acquired the novel which had been originally been serialized from 1963-1965 in *Analog Magazine*. While the book became a huge best-seller, Lanier, who championed its publication, was ironically fired due to slow initial sales. At the time of the letter Tolkien hadn't been able to read *Dune*.
In the final letter written in 1973, less than a year before his death, Tolkien writes, “I am only now at last able to actually work upon *The Silmarillion* and prepare at least part of it for publication. I am afraid you have hit on one quite serious point; the legends of *The Silmarillion* are largely mythological, and mostly grim, and without any tinge of comedy.” *The Silmarillion* was Tolkien’s last work and informed the myths and origins of his now famous Middle Earth. The book was completed by his son Christopher, whose efforts to compile and organize the book writing was published posthumously in 1977. It won the Locus Award for Best Fantasy novel in 1978.
A wonderful collection of letters from the greatest fantasy author of the 20th Century about manuscript publishing rights, the science fiction community, and the then nascent world of literary merchandising. A detailed list is available upon request.