On this page, hyperlinks are included selectively, to lead to further (especially pictorial) material. For additional links, see the supplemental bibliography of sources, below.
dust-jacket: The original cover art, reproduced on the endpapers of the new edition with the titling removed, was adapted by HarperCollins for the dust-jacket. Tom was moved to the front, the man and boat were moved to the back, and the colours were altered. These were for marketing reasons, but note, p. 20, Tolkien’s wish to have Bombadil on the front.
pp. 7–9: Tolkien also made a notable comment about Tom Bombadil in a letter to Nevill Coghill of 21 August 1954, soon after the publication of The Fellowship of the Ring. Coghill had written to Tolkien asking for explanations of matters in The Lord of the Rings, some of which the author felt should be left until the later volumes of the work appeared and his friend was able to read them. He was, however, willing to supply the following about Tom Bombadil, quoted here with the permission of and copyright © by The Tolkien Estate Limited:
But Tom Bombadil is just as he is. Just an odd ‘fact’ of that world. He won’t be explained, because as long as you are (as in this tale you are meant to be) concentrated on the Ring, he is inexplicable. But he’s there – a reminder of the truth (as I see it) that the world is so large and manifold that if you take one facet and fix your mind and heart on it, there is always something that does not come in to that story/argument/approach, and seems to belong to a larger story. But of course in another way, not that of pure story-making, Bombadil is a deliberate contrast to the Elves who are artists. But B. does not want to make, alter, devise, or control anything: just to observe and take joy in the contemplating the things that are not himself. The spirit of the [deleted: world > this earth] made aware of itself. He is more like science (utterly free from technological blemish) and history than art. He represents the complete fearlessness of that spirit when we can catch a little of it. But I do suggest that it is possible to fear (as I do) that the making artistic sub-creative spirit (of Men and Elves) is actually more potent, and can ‘fall’, and that it could in the eventual triumph of its own evil destroy the whole earth, and Bombadil and all.
p. 17: We considered including in this expanded edition The Dragon’s Visit and The Trees of Kortirion, on the grounds that Tolkien had considered them for the original 1962 collection. After consulting with Christopher Tolkien and HarperCollins, however, we decided to omit them. Tolkien himself had done so; and though one could argue for their inclusion as part of the documentary history of the book, we were worried about length. We suspected that the new volume was already thick for one of ‘pocket’ size, and the lengthy Kortirion alone would have added many pages. At any rate, both poems are readily available, the first most conveniently in The Annotated Hobbit and the second in The Book of Lost Tales, Part One.
p. 20, ll. 9–10: Here we write, concerning the original cover art, that ‘it features the mariner from Errantry on the upper cover’. John Rateliff has argued in his blog that this is the narrator of The Sea-Bell: ‘Not only do he and his ship lack any of the panoply so prominently featured in Errantry but he actually holds in his hand the sea-shell that awakens the sea-longing in The Sea-Bell’, and he is sailing past a bell-buoy (‘I heard a sea-bell swing in the swell’). This could well be correct; and yet, the figure in the boat does not seem emotionally driven as the narrator is at the start of The Sea-Bell (although during his voyage he is ‘wound in a sleep’), and is certainly not ragged enough for the narrator at the end of the poem. And at the same time, the boat is more elaborate (not to say, cheerful, with a pink sail and red pennant!) than we have ever pictured it. It is also possible that the boat and figure combine elements of both The Sea-Bell and Errantry, among the many details that Pauline Baynes put into the cover art.
p. 22, first paragraph: One of the earliest decisions we had to make about our edition was whether to return Fastitocalon and Cat to their original order in the first Allen & Unwin printing (Cat, then Fastitocalon), or to retain the reversed order (Fastitocalon, then Cat) begun in the second printing (to correct the awkward placement of art we describe on this page) and followed in all other printings and editions; and if we were to do the latter, whether we should correct the references Tolkien made to these poems in his Preface, which were not altered when the order of the poems was changed (see our comment, p. 232). Again we consulted with Christopher Tolkien, who agreed with our view that we should retain the more familiar order and comment on the changes or lack thereof. We also concluded that since there is no discussion in the Tolkien–Allen & Unwin archive of whether to emend the Preface, and since Tolkien’s prefatory comments on the two poems could still apply to them, if not as aptly, even with the revised order, we would leave the Preface as it was originally published and explain the problem in our annotations.
p. 24, first paragraph: To the list of poems on the Caedmon recording of 1967, add The Sea-Bell. The Caedmon LP sleeve omits it from the list of contents, but it is correctly included on the LP label. Lines 14–15, for ‘Errantry, Princess Mee, and The Sea-Bell’ read ‘Errantry and Princess Mee’.
pp. 155–9: Warren ‘Warnie’ Lewis, brother of C.S. Lewis, recorded in his diary for 30 November 1933 that he read Errantry, ‘a faery poem by Tolkien’, and found it ‘excellent in itself and also very interesting as being in an entirely new metre’. He thought it ‘a real discovery’ (Brothers and Friends: The Diaries of Major Warren Hamilton Lewis (1982), p. 126).
p. 165, ll. 3–5: The earliest example of sigaldry cited in the Oxford English Dictionary is in the fourteenth-century romance King Alisaunder (i.e. Alexander the Great).
p. 232: We knew while we were writing our text that this edition (except for its endpapers) would not be illustrated in colour, HarperCollins having found that this would not be possible if the book was to be sold at a reasonable price; and it may have been because of this that we did not describe to the extent we should have the problems caused in the original edition by an economy measure which restricted two-colour printing (black and orange) to one side of each sheet, with the other side printed only in black. On p. 231, we mention that the full-page, two-colour illustration for Cat was placed on the two-colour side of the sheet, but awkwardly within the text of Fastitocalon. At the same time, as we failed to mention, the illustration for Fastitocalon (p. 92 in the new edition) in which the giant turtle-fish upends the people who have landed on its back, thinking it an island, was also originally on the two-colour side of its sheet, and had orange flames rising from a campfire. When, after this printing, Fastitocalon and Cat were reversed in order, so that the large illustration for Cat was now correctly associated with that poem, the turtle-fish picture for Fastitocalon had to be moved to the other side of its sheet, where it was no longer printed in two colours and the ‘flames’ disappeared, leaving only rising smoke. Even though the art in our new edition is printed only in greyscale, we expected that the ‘flames’ would be present in this picture – in grey rather than orange – but they are still absent, which is very curious as we supplied high-resolution colour images of all of the illustrations, made from the first printing of the 1962 collection, where the Fastitocalon picture was complete. We can only think that someone referred to the same picture in a later printing, with the ‘flames’ absent, and took this to be the correct state; and we now see that there are no ‘flames’ in the picture even in the reproduction in the original Poems and Stories by Tolkien (1980), in which added colour was printed on both sides of the sheets, without restriction.
p. 280, l. 7 from bottom: In reprints of Once upon a Time, the words ‘steam of gold’ are printed as ‘stream of gold’. Steam is the reading in the original publication of the poem (in Winter’s Tales for Children 1), and we have confirmed with Christopher Tolkien that it is the word his father intended.
p. 283, ll. 15–22: In her review of Tolkien Studies 10 in Mythlore 124, Janet Brennan Croft suggests another possibility for the ‘earth-star’ mentioned in Once upon a Time: ‘The daisy [suggested by Kris Swank in Tolkien Studies] is far more likely than the fungus [i.e. one of the common fungi geastraceae, suggested by Douglas A. Anderson], as the latter closes in hot, dry conditions, not at night like the earth-stars do in the second stanza. But there may be other nyctinastic candidates that bloom in late May in the same climate and at the same time as buttercups and wild roses, such as chickweed, which has star-shaped flowers and is actually named Stellaria media’ (p. 202).
Croft, Janet Brennan. Review of Tolkien Studies 10 and Seven 30. Mythlore 32, no. 2, whole no. 124 (Spring/Summer 2014), pp. 199–204.
Lewis, Warren Hamilton. Brothers and Friends: The Diaries of Major Warren Hamilton Lewis. Ed. by Clyde S. Kilby and Marjorie Lamp Mead. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1982.
Rateliff, John D. ‘Bombadil Arrives!’. Blog post, 2 November 2014. http://sacnoths.blogspot.com/2014/11/bombadil-arrives.html.