Douglas A. Anderson
"I first read Tolkien in the summer of 1973 when I was thirteen, and his
writings have had a significant place in my life ever since. In the beginning, I
marveled at the scope and detail of his creation, and spent two or three years
reading and rereading The Lord of the Rings, while at the same time looking
for similar fantasies (not that I found many). Since that time, my interests have
evolved in various ways. I read Humphrey Carpenters biography of Tolkien soon
after its appearance in 1976, and became interested in the man who wrote The Lord
of the Rings, and in the medieval literatures in which Professor Tolkien himself
was expert. I remember the excitement over the first publication of The
Silmarillionin September 1977, my first month away from home and at college.
When the book finally appeared in stores, I snapped it up, and read far into the night,
even skipping dinner. And I skipped my morning classes the next day in order to finish
the book. (My college friends thought I was nuts, but I didnt let that bother me.)
I attended a summer program at Oxford in 1978, and met for the first time other
Tolkien enthusiasts who were members of the Tolkien Society in England. As my interests
gravitated towards the relationship between a writer and his publishers, I became
interested in the complex publishing history of Tolkiens works. This eventually
led to book on the publishing history of Tolkien, J. R. R. Tolkien: A Descriptive
Bibliography (1993), of which I was the lesser co-author, while my friend Wayne G.
Hammond was the primary author. The textual studies I was doing for the Bibliography
led to a few offshoots. The first was the updating of the text of the U.S. (Houghton
Mifflin) editions of The Lord of the Rings (for which I wrote the introductory
"Note on the Text"). The second offshoot of bibliographical work was The
Annotated Hobbit (1988), for it was the textual Appendix, detailing the changes
Tolkien made to the text of The Hobbit over the years, that was the impetus for
that book, and the part that was written first.
My interest in Tolkiens sources, and in influences upon his writings, led
to the 1996 reissue of The Marvellous Land of Snergs, a 1927 childrens book
by E. A. Wyke-Smith, for which I wrote the introduction, with much help from
Wyke-Smiths own children. Snergs were half-sized creatures with names like Gorbo
who lived in their own country, set apart from the lands of men. Tolkiens children
loved the Snergs book, and it was because his children wanted to hear more tales about
Snergs that Tolkien wrote his tale about hobbits.
Tolkiens writings have been occupied a large part of my mental landscape
for nearly thirty years, and I expect that they shall do so for another thirty years, as
I continue to study the man and his writings, and learn new ways to appreciate various
aspects of his creative genius.
Douglas A. Anderson