Corrections and clarifications

A number of errors reached print in Tolkien and the Great War which I take the opportunity to correct here. I include any noteworthy changes made for the 2004 and 2011 HarperCollins paperbacks, for the convenience of those with other editions. I also clarify some references which have proved obscure to non-natives of Britain.

I am already aware of a few further issues which I would like to set straight in due course, but I welcome any further corrections and comments, which can be addressed to me here.

First, a note about notes – specifically, those on pp. 315–69 of Tolkien and the Great War. I felt it best not to litter the main narrative section of the book with superscript numerals, or clog the foot of each page with notes. Sources are therefore provided at the back of the book, as are all explanations of my judgments on difficult points of chronology or other matters. Each note there is headed by a page number and a quotation or other phrase indicating the part of the text to which it relates.

My comprehensive index of proper names includes brief encyclopaedic explanations where this may help as an aide-mémoire to the many places and persons, both real and imaginary, that are mentioned in the book.

For the HarperCollins paperback, I added an outline chronology of Tolkien’s time on the Somme, which can now be read here. Readers using the comprehensive chronology in The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide should note that Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond differ from me over several dates.

Tolkien and the Great War necessarily covers J.R.R. Tolkien's active (and inactive) life at Exeter College, Oxford, in less detail than I would have liked – its focus being his school friendships, private creative work and war experiences. I have since written a major account of his undergraduate years which can be read here. Much more information about one of the close friends who feature in the book is published in ”Robert Quilter Gilson, T.C.B.S.: A brief life in letters”, Tolkien Studies 8. An incident which would have appeared in the book if I had known about it at the time is described in ”J.R.R. Tolkien and the boy who didn’t believe in fairies”, Tolkien Studies 7. Readers with access to Project Muse can read these two articles here and here.

Both Houghton Mifflin hardback and paperback are identical to the HarperCollins hardback (except in respect of the page references on p. vii). In other words, there are three English-language texts, which I abbreviate as follows:
T1: HarperCollins hardback; Houghton Mifflin hardback and paperback.
T2: HarperCollins paperback, 2004.
T3: HarperCollins paperback reprint, 2011.
Where no text is specified, the comment or correction applies to all English-language editions.

Tolkien and the Great War HarperCollins hardbackp. vii T1
The Bibliography page reference should read “371”.
The Index page reference should read “383”.

p. ix T2
As mentioned above, a short chronology was added for the HarperCollins paperback, which can be read here.

p. xvii
I omitted to thank my cousin Judith Murphy and her husband Paul for their hospitality during my research trip to the Lancashire Fusiliers Museum in Bury, Lancashire.

p. 15 T1
I originally referred to “pater in Sanskrit, Greek, and Latin”, but Arden R. Smith has pointed out that while the words for “father” in the three languages share the same root consonants p-t-r, they differ in vocalism (particularly Sanskrit, which has the stem pitár- but a nominative form lacking final –r). The reading in T2 is therefore “patér in Greek and pater in Latin”.

p. 20 T1
I should have pointed out that Lord Macaulay’s Lays of Ancient Rome (which Tolkien parodies in “The Battle of the Eastern Field”) was the source of Wiseman and Tolkien’s epithet “the Great Twin Brethren”.

p. 25 T1
“alumnae” should read “alumni”. As Arden R. Smith has gently pointed out to me, Tolkien did not attend a girls’ school.

p. 29
“Tolkien continued to neglect his studies under his Classics tutor, Lewis Farnell… But neither Farnell nor Sophocles and Aeschylus fired Tolkien’s enthusiasm.” I ought to have noted that Tolkien was probably taught by Eric Arthur Barber as well. See Humphrey Carpenter, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1977), p. 54, and my Tolkien, Exeter College and the Great War.

p. 34 T1
Tolkien’s tabular headings “Vorgerman”, “Urgerman” must have been intended as abbreviations of “Vorgermanisch” and “Urgermanisch”.

p. 77
The artist who painted The Piper of Dreams was Estella Canziani, not the spurious “Eleanor Canziani”, as pointed out by “PauloIapetus” in this fascinating discussion of possible influences on Tolkien’s depiction of Tom Bombadil.

p. 97
“Primitive Eldarin negative UL- / and a derivative of VANA-”. The forward slash here has crept in from the void.

p. 98 T1
“a fictional explanation for Irminsûl” should read “a fictional explanation for Irminsûl”: that is, for the name of the Germanic totem.

p. 107
For “Tir-na-Nog” read “Tír na nÓg”. As Pavel Iosad has pointed out to me, my mis-spelling gives the impression that I am referring to a “Land of the Nogs” rather than the Irish mythological “Land of Youth”.

p. 119
G.B. Smith’s friend in the 19th Lancashire Fusiliers who was captured on 2 February 1916 and died of wounds two days later was not not “Arthur Dixon” but Alfred Charles Dixon, as Elena Rossi has pointed out to me.

p. 183
Robert Cary Gilson’s letter to Tolkien on 15 August 1916 uses a cricketing metaphor which may be opaque to some readers: “Would to God that we men ‘past military age’ could go and do this business instead of you young fellows. We have had a good innings: there would be little difficulty in ‘declaring’.” An innings (singular and plural) is a team’s turn at the bat, rather than bowling and fielding. To declare is to close one’s innings early, before the usual ten wickets have fallen.

p. 221
I refer, wrongly, to Philip Gibbs as “The Times’s official war correspondent”. In fact he was one of five official war correspondents accredited to the British Expeditionary Force, and his war dispatches were published jointly by The Daily Chronicle and The Daily Telegraph. See “Gibbs, Sir Philip Armand Hamilton (1877-1962)” in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (available online here to those with access).

p. 222 T1
For clarity, the phrase “who is better known by his later name Melkor and Morgoth” should be in parentheses.

p. 225
“The mariner’s original name is Ottor, which is simply the Old English equivalent of Otter, Tolkien’s name for himself in Animalic” [T1] was rephrased in T2 (“This seems to have been Tolkien’s name for himself in Animalic”). The identification of Otter as Tolkien’s Animalic pseudonym is speculation, drawn from the paper on “Tolkien and Esperanto” by Arden R. Smith and Patrick H. Wynne (Seven 17, pp. 32-3). In a nutshell, Tolkien refers to himself as Lutro, Esperanto for “otter”, in “The Book of the Foxrook”, a private codebook written in 1909; and around this period (c. 1905-11) he was also helping his cousins Mary and Marjorie Incledon to develop their invented language Animalic. On further reflection, I should have said: “Otter may have been Tolkien’s name for himself in Animalic”.

pp. 231-2 T1
I originally mentioned, in passing, that 27 February 1917 was “the day the Russian Revolution began in St Petersburg”. As David Doughan has pointed out to me, the February Revolution actually began on 23 February, sparked off by a demonstration marking International Women’s Day, but since Russia still used the Julian calendar this did not happen until 8 March 1917 by British reckoning. I excised the point completely from T2.

p. 247
“He lost two stone and regaining it proved to be a slow struggle.” In British avoirdupois weight, one stone equals 14 pounds. In other words, Tolkien lost 28lb (about 12.7kg).

p. 249
The reference to Tolkien “giving tuition” may be mysterious to some readers. “Tuition” is not intended to mean a fee paid for instruction, as in U.S. English. I used it in the general British sense, meaning “tutoring, acting as a tutor, teaching on an extra-curricular, paid-for basis)”.

p. 245 T1
“the medical officers at Humber Garrison” should read “medical officers at the Humber Garrison”.

p. 264 T1
In the explanation of Tolkien’s coinage eucatastrophe,in T2 I replaced the Greek characters with English transliterations: “from the Greek eu ‘good’ and katastrophe ‘sudden turn’”.

p. 271 T1
“Lóki” is correctly “Loki”.

p. 283
Christopher Wiseman’s first wife was Christine Irene (née Savage), but I should have called her Irene, the name she used in preference to Christine.

p. 318
In the note to page 21, the date for the Stapeldon Society debate on foreign policy  (“This House would welcome the greater play of the Democratic factor in foreign policy”) was 10 November 1913, not 7 November.

p. 327
In the note to page 77 I refer to an essay by “Charlotte Gear” and Lionel Lambourne in Victorian Fairy Painting edited by Jane Martineau. The name of the co-author is actually Charlotte Gere.

p. 336 T1
In the note to page 128 there should be a full stop (a period) after the words “predated the Somme”. The line about the “Germanic ideal” is a separate note.

p. 342 T1
The note labelled “pp. 165-6”should end after the second line. The remainder, from  “11th LF in the 74th Brigade attack”, belongs under a new heading, “pp. 166-8”.

p. 352 T1
In the note to page 207 there should be a full stop (a period) after the words “Haywood: LT2, 328”.

p. 359 T1
In the note to page 246, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive Bibliography is attributed to “Hammond and Anderson”. This should read “Hammond with Anderson”.

p. 385
For “Canziani, Eleanor”, read “Canziani, Estella”.

p. 395
For “Tir-na-Nog” in the index, read “Tír na nÓg”.


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