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Old 11-08-2010, 04:42 PM   #1
Bęthberry
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Tolkien Estate blocks new Tolkien book

The book is Wheelbarrows At Dawn, by Angie Gardner and Neil Holford, a biography of Hilary Tolkien which discusses the relationship of the two brothers. It was so close to publication that a launch party was planned for December 4th.

But apparently one cannot discuss JRR Tolkien in a book about his brother Hilary.

Publisher's announcement of cancellation of publication

Perhaps soon we will hear that one cannot discuss JRR in a book on C.S. Lewis.

I haven't gone looking for any comments from the Estate.

What this bodes for Tolkien scholarship boggles the mind.
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Old 11-08-2010, 04:54 PM   #2
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This is bizarre. There must be more to it.
How can anyone ban a biography, especially of
a celebrity...especially a dead celebrity?
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Old 11-08-2010, 06:17 PM   #3
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The ADC website contains the following info on the book:

Quote:
Wheelbarrows at Dawn: The Memories of Hilary Tolkien
Due to be published Summer 2010

By Angela Gardner & Neil Holford

The biography of Hilary Tolkien, brother to Ronald (JRR Tolkien). Sharing their formative years together and then heading into the trenches of The Great War, the book shows the correspondence between the Tolkien brothers and their wives during the war and since, with family photographs and letters. Though about Hilary, this books also sheds light on and brings new information to the world of JRR Tolkien - including the only known instance of a signed photograph by Ronald, and a recent discovery of an original JRRT drawing

http://www.adcbooks.co.uk/
I'm guessing the Estate may be disputing the right of the authors to use certain biographical info relating to JRR, the photos, letters etc.
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Old 11-09-2010, 12:51 AM   #4
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My first thoughts on reading this were that it was a copyright matter - any letters/docs/personal photos from JRRT are copyright JRRT & his Estate. The Estate may simply being a bit precious. What I find curious is that the author has worked with Hilary Tolkien's family on this book, & from what I know of Angela Gardener via the Tolkien Society & buying books from Daeron's Books, I know it would have been an entirely respectful work, so I'm not sure what the Estate's objection could be, other than 'This our stuff & you can't use it!'

However, reading between the lines of the publisher's statement:

Quote:
Despite many revisions and changes made at the insistence of The Tolkien Estate it appears that The Tolkien Estate will seek to take court action to prevent the release of this book regardless. Everyone involved in the publication has worked hard to meet the requests of The Tolkien Estate time and time again, however it would be misleading to release a Biography on Hilary Tolkien without proper reference to his close relationship with his brother.
it seems a bit more complex - the issue seems to be not so much about the use of the photos/pix/letters referred to in the blurb, but about the book's making 'proper reference to his close relationship with his brother'.

Which seems a bit much - stopping a book going ahead because it touched on the relationship between Tolkien & his brother from Hilary's perspective. I don't know if any more info will be released on the exact issues but I don't think we'll ever see the book in print now - after the Estate's recent victory over New Line they have a VERY lot of money for lawyers.....
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Old 11-09-2010, 09:40 AM   #5
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That's just tragic. I would've much liked to see JRR a bit through the eyes of his family. (And also know more about his family.) Why must the Estate be so possessive?
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Old 11-09-2010, 10:22 AM   #6
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As I haven't read the manuscript, it's hard to say precisely why the estate would block it, but I can see one legitimate reason. The book may be ostensibly about Hillary, but if it was overly emphasizing his relationship with JRRT, it could be argued by the estate that the author or publisher was using that connection as a sales hook, possibly to the point that the book was really indirect memoirs of JRRT more than a biography of the life of Hillary himself. Why, for instance, make a point of mentioning things like the autographed photo of JRRT? It would interest his fans and encourage them to buy a book they might otherwise not purchase. The estate's complaint may be one of misrepresentation, and is possibly legitimate. One would have to read the manuscript in order to know the truth, and as the public cannot make that judgment for itself at this time, the media can put whatever spin they like on the actions of the estate.
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Old 11-09-2010, 10:40 AM   #7
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You do have a point, Ibrin. I can definitely see the publishers using the Tolkien connection as a selling point. (And I realize my comment above falls under the Tolkien-fan-reading-his-brother's-bio-to-find-out-more-about-JRR category. So, case in point.)

As you said, one would need to read the manuscript to be sure, but (thinking about the aforementioned category), if even a part of their market is Tolkienites (which it certainly must be; one cannot possibly write a book about a Tolkien and not expect JRR's followers to jump on the bandwagon), they might, however unintentionally, skew it to be more a sideways biography of the Man himself rather than his brother, as advertised. In that case, I suppose the complaints of the Estate would be perfectly legitimate. I would expect that they might be willing to settle for royalties (I would, if it were me), but it may well be that they tried and the publisher refused.

And of course we'll probably never know the real reasons.

So, much as I would love to read a biography of Hilary, I suppose I can try for an all-sides view and see how the Estate might be unhappy about such a thing.


P.S. Apologies for all the parentheticals.
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Old 11-09-2010, 03:01 PM   #8
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I doubt there would be many takers for the bio of an Evesham fruit farmer if he weren't JRR's brother. But I am suprised that they can stop it since there are so many unauthorised Celebrity bios that most people have to put up with.

Can you libel the dead? Surely copyright is the only thing?

It dos seem a bit extreme especially when Gardener is such a mainstay of Oxonmoot and the TS which is proud and protective of its relationship with the surviving family.
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Old 11-09-2010, 03:10 PM   #9
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^^No, libel is only for the living.
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Old 11-09-2010, 03:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mithalwen
Can you libel the dead?
So you've seen the movie Death on the Nile
with Peter Ustinov, Mia Farrow, Angela Lansbury, etc.
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Old 11-09-2010, 03:29 PM   #11
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I have - and not only that version but I can't get the significance ..I remember whodunnit and how but nothing in the motive for libel.
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Old 11-09-2010, 03:38 PM   #12
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Something about this whole thing gives me the impression of the Tolkien Estate cutting off its nose to spite its face.
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Old 11-09-2010, 09:14 PM   #13
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Bizarre is right, especially considering that the Facebook page for Wheelbarrows at Dawn says in a post dated 10/22/10 that "Chris Tolkien" was slated to attend the launch party. I wonder what eleventh hour dispute killed the book.

The Tolkien Estate has managed to cultivate a reputation -- deserved or not -- as a lumbering litigious behemoth obsessed with control, an irony which I'm sure is not lost on most Tolkien fans. I wonder if they're sensitive to that or if they're just too old and too wealthy to care.

Here's an old Downs thread about Hilary.
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Old 11-10-2010, 10:56 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Underhill View Post
Bizarre is right, especially considering that the Facebook page for Wheelbarrows at Dawn says in a post dated 10/22/10 that "Chris Tolkien" was slated to attend the launch party.
I suspect that refers to Hilary Tolkien's grandson Christopher rather than JRR's son. I'm sure I recently read a critic who distinguished between the two by calling JRR's son Christopher and Hilary's grandson Chris, but I cannot now recall the source. Here's a family tree on Wiki: Tolkien family tree.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Underhill View Post
I wonder what eleventh hour dispute killed the book.
The book had already been extensively rewritten in an attempt to accommodate the wishes of the Estate.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Underhill View Post
The Tolkien Estate has managed to cultivate a reputation -- deserved or not -- as a lumbering litigious behemoth obsessed with control, an irony which I'm sure is not lost on most Tolkien fans. I wonder if they're sensitive to that or if they're just too old and too wealthy to care.
It's really disheartening to recall that the Estate also rejected Professor Michael Drout's edition of Tolkien's translation of Beowulf. And they are sitting on Tolkien's private journal or diary, something scholarship would really benefit from seeing.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mithalwen
It dos seem a bit extreme especially when Gardener is such a mainstay of Oxonmoot and the TS which is proud and protective of its relationship with the surviving family.
Let me second this. Anyone who attended the session on this book at Oxonmoot this past September could not miss the genuine sincerity of the authors and their personal enthusiasm for the project. These are not fringe carbetbaggers using a cheap trick to hitch a ride on Tolkien's fame. Like other members of the Tolkien Society, they are exceptionally devoted fans of the author. If I am remembering correctly, they worked with Hilary's family on the book, which is based on a recently discovered stash of Hilary's family mementoes.

I have to say I'm very glad I attended this session, particularly in light of this news. I came away with a greater appreciation of the family relationships and some interesting information not in Carpenter's biography.

And in the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that after Oxonmoot I became friends with Angie Gardner on Facebook and am also friends there with Professor Drout, although I've not had any correspondence with them about their books.
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Old 11-10-2010, 01:08 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mithalwen
I have - and not only that version but I can't get the significance ..I remember whodunnit and how but nothing in the motive for libel.
Off topic, but...

In the movie Angela Lansbury is being sued by the (future) murder
victim for libel, AL's a romance novelist, and her daughter asks her
boyfriend if you can libel the dead. Of course the French detective
overhears her and she becomes a suspect.
(I was rewatching the movie this weekend).
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Old 11-11-2010, 05:43 AM   #16
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Quote:
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As I haven't read the manuscript, it's hard to say precisely why the estate would block it, but I can see one legitimate reason. The book may be ostensibly about Hillary, but if it was overly emphasizing his relationship with JRRT, ..... The estate's complaint may be one of misrepresentation, and is possibly legitimate. One would have to read the manuscript in order to know the truth, and as the public cannot make that judgment for itself at this time, the media can put whatever spin they like on the actions of the estate.
Even if that were the case I don't think that it was misrepresentation. No offence to Hilary who was no doubt a fine and decent man but there would almost certainly no book (other than perhaps a private family memoir) were he not JRRT's brother. There have been cases here where a sibling relationship has been exploited for a book and the "celebrity" has had to tolerate it and I really can't see how the estate can block the publication of Hilary's family reminiscences about Uncle Ronald (or whatever they called him) even if they now hate any aspect of JRRT's private life emerging into the public domain. I usually am the first to defend the estate against all comers but I am baffled about this.

I can't believe that the book was so scandalous but you can't but wonder. I can't help thinking that this would have had a very limited circulation of fairly devoted fans at Ł30 a pop had they left well alone.

What on earth was it that was so problematic
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Old 11-11-2010, 08:03 AM   #17
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Angela Gardener, the author, is a member of the downs (only one post so far http://forum.barrowdowns.com/showpos...64&postcount=3), but she may not feel able to discuss the matter. Just so curious to know what the score is.
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Old 11-11-2010, 09:10 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally posted by Mithalwen
I can't believe that the book was so scandalous but you can't but wonder. I can't help thinking that this would have had a very limited circulation of fairly devoted fans at Ł30 a pop had they left well alone.

What on earth was it that was so problematic
Exactly. Are UK copyright, publishing laws etc. so much stricter
then other countries? Or EU regulations. And if so could it be
published in other countries (U.S., Canada, Australia)?

Btw, I'd like to read a bio like this, but at 60+ dollars.....
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Old 11-11-2010, 09:55 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bęthberry View Post
I suspect that refers to Hilary Tolkien's grandson Christopher rather than JRR's son. I'm sure I recently read a critic who distinguished between the two by calling JRR's son Christopher and Hilary's grandson Chris, but I cannot now recall the source. Here's a family tree on Wiki: Tolkien family tree.
Thanks for the tree. How deliciously self-referential! That answers that, then.

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It's really disheartening to recall that the Estate also rejected Professor Michael Drout's edition of Tolkien's translation of Beowulf. And they are sitting on Tolkien's private journal or diary, something scholarship would really benefit from seeing.
Lamentable indeed, though I imagine all of this will come to light sooner or later. Then again, none of us are getting any younger, are we?

That taste we had of Beowulf was particularly intriguing. I did a search to see if I could recall any of the particulars of the scuttling of the project. Ironically, the most detailed information I could find was right here on the Downs -- in fact Google is so swift that your post in this very thread, Bb, was near the top of the list. Anyway, I'm surprised that there hasn't been more of an outcry about Tolkien's work being kept under wraps. I suppose serious fans of both Tolkien and Beowulf comprise a relatively small demographic, but I would've expected some ongoing curiosity from Anglo-Saxon scholars at least.

Quote:
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I really can't see how the estate can block the publication of Hilary's family reminiscences about Uncle Ronald (or whatever they called him) even if they now hate any aspect of JRRT's private life emerging into the public domain.
From what I can see, there are probably two main factors at play here that have nothing to do with the Estate actually having a winning legal case for blocking publication.

One is that the publisher (whose main operation seems to be running a specialty Tolkien bookstore whilst publishing the occasional Tolkien-related volume on the side -- I'm sure someone will correct me if I'm wrong) and the authors are all apparently dedicated Tolkienistas with at least some relationship with the family, a relationship I imagine they'd rather not sacrifice for the sake of a relatively obscure book.

And even if they weren't concerned about that, there's number two, which is the privilege of the very rich when it comes to the law. As davem mentioned upthread, the Estate has very deep pockets, and if you want to take them on in court you better have time and money of your own to spend, because they will find ways to make you work for it. An Estate with hundreds of millions of dollars versus a bookshop owner and a couple of authors, guess who's going to run out of money first?
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Old 11-11-2010, 04:28 PM   #20
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Btw, I'd like to read a bio like this, but at 60+ dollars.....
Perhaps you can satisfy (or whet) your appetite with the first small volume which came out of Hilary's papers: Black and White Ogre Country: The Lost Tales of Hilary Tolkien.

I've linked to an interview with the illustrator, Jeff Murray, on Tolkien Library, but that page includes a link to Amazon uk for ordering the book. At either ₤7 or ₤9, it's hardly pricey.

There's a bit of explanation, too, of the provenance of the material.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Underhill
Ironically, the most detailed information I could find was right here on the Downs -- in fact Google is so swift that your post in this very thread, Bb, was near the top of the list.
gulp! But I know nuffink of the matter except that it happened--shows you how good teh interwebs are.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mister Underhill
I suppose serious fans of both Tolkien and Beowulf comprise a relatively small demographic, but I would've expected some ongoing curiosity from Anglo-Saxon scholars at least.
It's a very small demographic. Very few universities require Old English--which needs to be learnt as a separate language--from their English majors. I suspect I come from one of the very few North American ones that do and I know of English ones which do not as well.

Even medieval studies--which are in the dialects of middle English and look recognisable to modern English readers--are being lost because not many wish to undertake a rigorous training in reading old literature these days.

Also, with recent translations such as Seamus Heaney's there's less need for another, even one from a pre-eminent OE scholar.

Quote:
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Then again, none of us are getting any younger, are we?
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Old 11-13-2010, 08:57 PM   #21
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Quote:
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My first thoughts on reading this were that it was a copyright matter - any letters/docs/personal photos from JRRT are copyright JRRT & his Estate. The Estate may simply being a bit precious. What I find curious is that the author has worked with Hilary Tolkien's family on this book, & from what I know of Angela Gardener via the Tolkien Society & buying books from Daeron's Books, I know it would have been an entirely respectful work, so I'm not sure what the Estate's objection could be, other than 'This our stuff & you can't use it!'

However, reading between the lines of the publisher's statement:



it seems a bit more complex - the issue seems to be not so much about the use of the photos/pix/letters referred to in the blurb, but about the book's making 'proper reference to his close relationship with his brother'.

Which seems a bit much - stopping a book going ahead because it touched on the relationship between Tolkien & his brother from Hilary's perspective. I don't know if any more info will be released on the exact issues but I don't think we'll ever see the book in print now - after the Estate's recent victory over New Line they have a VERY lot of money for lawyers.....
It might be that the book can't make 'proper reference to his close relationship with his brother' without using letters and other personal documents.

What the Estate can't do is simply block bios of members of the Tolkien family - it doesn't matter how many fancy lawyers you have if your case has no legal substance - sure, the Estate can issue injunctions against books they don't like, but there are loads of Tolkien related books being published every year, so it's not like they block everything.

I'm puzzling over the argument that the book was a "misrepresentation". Normally, if the book represents "false claims" or "false advertising" (eg, a book about JRRT masquerading as being about Hilary) then that would be a matter for the UK Advertising Standards Authority and also perhaps the Office of Fair Trading. There is certainly no obvious basis for a civil lawsuit - unless the authors of the book signed a contract with the Estate regarding the use of certain materials owned by the Estate. The Estate may be complaining that they were deceived as to the nature of the book when they (the Estate) agreed to the use of those materials. In fact, that's the only explanation that makes sense to me.
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Old 11-16-2010, 07:25 AM   #22
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As authors who have worked with the Tolkien Estate in producing books containing copyrighted material, and are known to contribute to Tolkien fan forums, we have been asked to forward the following official statement:

Statement of the Tolkien Estate - Wheelbarrows at Dawn

The J R R Tolkien Estate has been made aware of a statement by ADC Publications concerning its cancellation of its proposed publication Wheelbarrows at Dawn by Angela Gardner and Neil Holford.

ADC's statement suggests that the publication has been cancelled as a result of the Tolkien Estate's threats to take court action preventing the release of the book.

As this statement is highly misleading, the Tolkien Estate considers it important that the true facts be clarified for those concerned.

The book in question was presented by ADC as a biography of J R R Tolkien's brother Hilary. However, the publication included numerous personal letters from J R R Tolkien to his brother and from other family members that were reproduced virtually verbatim.

The copyright in these private, unpublished letters belongs to the Tolkien Estate. As the guardian of these rights and of the privacy of the Tolkien family, both of which it takes great care to protect, the Estate quite properly declined permission for the letters to be reproduced in this way.

However, the Estate made clear to ADC that it had no issue with the publication of the book providing the material in question - affecting only 20 pages out of a total of some 300 - was removed.

Although ADC's response was to agree to this, what it then did in practice was to paraphrase the letters, something that had been made clear from the outset would not resolve the issue.

Despite the Estate's devoting considerable resource to helping ADC, not least by suggesting specific editorial changes which would meet its concerns, ADC then announced the cancellation of the book.

=====

Wayne Hammond & Christina Scull
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Old 11-16-2010, 09:33 AM   #23
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Thank you very much, Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull for providing that statement for the benefit of discussion here. Please thank the members of the Tolkien Estate as well for explaining their position.

I'm sure I speak for all Downers when I say we would be delighted to see Calcifer contribute to our discussions, particularly when we can benefit from your great expertise and wide knowledge of all things Tolkien. I am reading, slowly and carefully, through your Companion and Guide and have found it as refreshing and enlightening as any Ent draught.
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Old 11-16-2010, 02:57 PM   #24
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Still not sure whether the issue is

a)Simply that the authors are paraphrasing the letters - ie its not about what the letters contain, but simply because the copyright on the material belongs to the Estate, & that they object on principle to its being used.

Or

b) Whether its because the letters contain information the Estate do not want to be published - but I suspect that if the content of the letters was along the lines of 'Dear Hilary, went into Birmingham today & had tea. It rained for a bit, but then the sun came out & made the whole place seem rather Elvish. Yours Ronald' then no-one at the Estate would be bothered if it was published.

However, I accept that we'll never be told one way or the other, so further speculation seems pointless.

Narfforc, via Facebook, made me aware of this novel 'Looking for the King: An Inklings Novel '[Hardcover] http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/1586...pt#reader-link In it, Tolkien, Lewis & the other Inklings appear as supporting characters, & we've seen other novels where the same thing happens (ie 'Here, There Be Dragons (Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica' http://www.amazon.com/There-Dragons-...9942839&sr=1-1 ). I begin to feel that Tolkien is moving towards being a 'fictional' character himself, the dreamy, slightly bumbling old professor with his pipe. We may never get to know the real man.

Last edited by davem; 11-16-2010 at 03:36 PM.
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Old 11-16-2010, 04:49 PM   #25
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I would like to say something on this forum about Wheelbarrows at Dawn.

My brief from Chris Tolkien was to "put Hilary Tolkien into the life of his brother in print as he had been in life." In order to do this I was given free access to all the family papers. I was asked to write a book about their lives - both together as a relationship - and in the wider world; setting them in their time and place.

The book was amended by Neil and myself, as requested by the publisher, at the behest of Tolkien Estates, three times. When we got to the point where one of the two brothers was deemed to no longer have a voice, the point of the book became null and void in its current form. This being the case the publisher and Chris Tolkien made the decision to halt publication and take stock.

This is all I wish to say at this time. Thank you for your interest.

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Old 11-16-2010, 04:51 PM   #26
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The copyright in these private, unpublished letters belongs to the Tolkien Estate. As the guardian of these rights and of the privacy of the Tolkien family, both of which it takes great care to protect, the Estate quite properly declined permission for the letters to be reproduced in this way.
I'm still a bit baffled by this. Firstly, because most 20th century literary figures eminent enough to have biographies written about them, have letters that are published as part of biographies, and it isn't generally seen as a problem by the estates of these writers.
Secondly, from whom did the authors obtain the letters in question, if not the family?
Thirdly, why could the letters not be paraphrased? If I paraphrased the plot of LotR I would not be in breach of copyright, although if I copied it word for word I clearly would.
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Last edited by Lalaith; 11-16-2010 at 04:52 PM. Reason: posted at the same time as the above. Clearly my second point was close to the mark.
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Old 11-16-2010, 05:11 PM   #27
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Thirdly, why could the letters not be paraphrased? If I paraphrased the plot of LotR I would not be in breach of copyright, although if I copied it word for word I clearly would.
I wasn't aware that a paraphrase or synopsis is a breach of copyright either, but I'm sure a very long, exorbitantly expensive, court case would be able to determine whether that is actually the case or not. What one would need is two very rich individuals/organisations to be prepared to argue it out in front of a judge.
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Old 11-16-2010, 06:32 PM   #28
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Yes, paraphrasing without giving credit is plagiarism. However, if credit is given, it's OK to even paraphrase another author's work. If the words "Tolkien's letters" would be listed, I think it wouldn't be a problem. Crazy, this system, isn't it?
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Old 11-16-2010, 08:07 PM   #29
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Whatever the convoluted legalistic circumlocutions, it all sounds like much ado about nothing, and ridiculously litigious on the part of the Tolkien Estate. Here we have two brothers who have been dead nearly forty years. FORTY YEARS! Unless J.R.R. paraded about in women's clothing in a foxhole in France and was referred to as Jane Tolkien by his comrades, I don't think much that is earth-shaking could come out of letters from two brothers.

I have long respected the conservative nature by which the Tolkien Estate transacted their business, and protected the authorial integrity of my favorite writer; however, there comes a point when it is simply asinine, particularly in the case of a biography about Tolkien's brother which seemed to originally receive the blessings of the Estate, and the authors considered appropriate to the task after being vetted.

Personally, the objections seem trivial -- as small and mean as snobby Hobbits like Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, who took pettiness to a higher level.

Sorry Tolkien Estate, you missed the boat on this one and received a self-inflicted black eye.
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Old 11-17-2010, 02:34 AM   #30
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I think many of us have a tendency to tip toe around the Estate, simply because the family are at the core of it & we don't like the idea of saying 'nasty' things about Tolkien's children & grandchildren. I have to say that if the 'Tolkien Estate was simply a commercial organisation who controlled the copyright of Tolkien's works & had no connection with the family the reaction to this story would have been far less muted.

We should perhaps remember that the Tolkien Estate is not a 'fan' organisation, but an entirely commercial one & clearly places issues of copyright above 'art'. 'Tolkien' is a copyrighted product now as much as Coke or MacDonalds or Apple - & you wouldn't want to get on the wrong side of their lawyers either.

Can't help but wonder whether something 'happened' when Tolkien's original publisher, Allen & Unwin, was taken over by Rupert Murdoch's Harper Collins...
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Old 11-17-2010, 03:04 AM   #31
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I'm still a bit baffled by this. Firstly, because most 20th century literary figures eminent enough to have biographies written about them, have letters that are published as part of biographies, and it isn't generally seen as a problem by the estates of these writers.
Secondly, from whom did the authors obtain the letters in question, if not the family?
Thirdly, why could the letters not be paraphrased? If I paraphrased the plot of LotR I would not be in breach of copyright, although if I copied it word for word I clearly would.

The physical letters are presumably in the possession of Hilary's family whereas the copyright resides with the estate. So Hilary's family have the right to show them to whom they like the reproduction of the contents is verboten without the permission of the estate. "Eyes only" in effect.


As for paraphrasingtaking Dave's example, if I write "He wrote to Hilary that he had gone into Birmingham today & had tea. It had rained briefly , but then the sun had emerged giving the place an Elvish quality ". I don't think substituting some vocabulary, using reported speech and so on is enough for me to say that is no longer essentially Dave's writing. You could say that a film or radio script is essentially a paraphrase and both require the authority of the copyright holder.

All in all it seems rather sad that it has got to this stage. I don't blame the Estate for protecting its rights but it shows how tight the laager has been drawn if even Angie Gardner with the cooperation of Hilary's family has fallen foul. But the price of Tolkien being taken more seriously as an author is legitimate interest in his life. There is a danger of babies being thrown out with bathwater....
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Old 11-17-2010, 03:25 AM   #32
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As for paraphrasingtaking Dave's example, if I write "He wrote to Hilary that he had gone into Birmingham today & had tea. It had rained briefly , but then the sun had emerged giving the place an Elvish quality ". I don't think substituting some vocabulary, using reported speech and so on is enough for me to say that is no longer essentially Dave's writing. You could say that a film or radio script is essentially a paraphrase and both require the authority of the copyright holder.
But I personally wouldn't care if a letter of mine like that was published - & if my heirs did, I feel seriously disappointed in them.

There are only two possible takes on this 1 - the Estate is being petty & simply refusing to allow even reference to correspondence which contains no more than everyday trivia, or 2 - they are being secretive, because what is contained in the letters is something they do not to be made public. Neither option reflects well on them & anything that reflects badly on them is in danger of reflecting badly on Tolkien himself. And frankly, I am now incredibly curious about what they don't want me to see ...
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Old 11-17-2010, 03:36 AM   #33
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[QUOTE=davem;643234]I think many of us have a tendency to tip toe around the Estate, simply because the family are at the core of it & we don't like the idea of saying 'nasty' things about Tolkien's children & grandchildren. QUOTE]

Also maybe tempered by the fact that those of us who have had even slight contact with the family (which of course includes many who have attended an Oxonmoot) have found it a positive experience - I haven't heard a negative report personally. And we are aware of the tremendous good done with the processes of the jealously guarded rights via the Tolkien Trust.

It is a bit of a PR disaster though if it makes even informed and sympathetic Tolkienistas think that either there it some undisclosed scandal or that the estate is being draconian.

But while I am instantly suspicious of "true facts" (if it aint true it aint a fact!) , facts can have more than one perspective. For example, I happened to be doing my final teaching prac. at a Catholic school when it was reported in the paper that a catholic mass had been permitted to be celebrated in the chalpe of the Tower of London for the first time since the reformation. In the staff room there was a certain amount of chuntering about how dreadful it was that it had been forbidden so long. Now it happened that I sang in my college chapel choir and though it was a Methodist foundation, the chapel services were ecumenical and the services were led by different denominations and groups in rotation. There had been a huge fuss after the last time the Catholic service was held because it was a Mass and other than in exceptional circumstances they do not offer the sacrament to non Catholics (whereas in the Anglican tradition at least, communicant members of other denominations may receive it). So there was this awful division when the priest invited Catholics only up. Subsequently the Catholics were asked only to hold services in which an ecumenical congregation could participate equally and Vespers and Benediction were substituted. Now that could have been interpreted as a ban on the Mass but it wasn't quite that simple...
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Old 11-17-2010, 03:44 AM   #34
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But I personally wouldn't care if a letter of mine like that was published - & if my heirs did, I feel seriously disappointed in them.

There are only two possible takes on this 1 - the Estate is being petty & simply refusing to allow even reference to correspondence which contains no more than everyday trivia, or 2 - they are being secretive, because what is contained in the letters is something they do not to be made public. Neither option reflects well on them & anything that reflects badly on them is in danger of reflecting badly on Tolkien himself. And frankly, I am now incredibly curious about what they don't want me to see ...
I am inclined to agree... but the issue of whether there is a copyright breach is separate to whether it is necessary or wise to protect it. After all if there were something, this would probably be the most neutralising way for it to get into the public domain... hardly likely to get a more sympathetic treatment.

However if those 20 pages were crucial it hardly suggests that the book was "all killer, no filler".
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Last edited by Mithalwen; 11-17-2010 at 07:13 AM. Reason: Add last sentence to avoid triple post.
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Old 11-17-2010, 09:19 AM   #35
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Well, it looks to me like ADC agreed to one thing -- not to quote or paraphrase these letters -- and did another.


It's easier to make light of privacy concerns when it's someone else's privacy involved, and in any case people have various opinions on what they feel should be kept private. It seems to me that the Estate is entitled to their opinion regarding the Tolkien family's privacy -- not just JRRT's privacy, noting '.... and from other family members' in the statement above.

Quote:
(...) However, the Estate made clear to ADC that it had no issue with the publication of the book providing the material in question - affecting only 20 pages out of a total of some 300 - was removed.

Although ADC's response was to agree to this, what it then did in practice was to paraphrase the letters, something that had been made clear from the outset would not resolve the issue.

from the statement provided by Hammond and Scull
Is ADC claiming that this wasn't made clear from the outset?

I haven't seen that so far in any event. Angie G's response doesn't speak to this -- for whatever reason, but repeated comments that ADC or the authors were trusted, vetted, and revised the book X many times as requested by the Estate...

... also don't speak to breaking an earlier agreement (whatever the law).
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Old 11-17-2010, 09:27 AM   #36
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Just speculation, but in the Introduction to Letters Humphrey
Carpenter says:
Quote:
Among the omissions is a very large body of letters he
wrote between 1913 and 1918 to Edith Bratt, who was his fiancee
and then his wife; these are highly personal in character...
Given that HC's work was "supervised" by Christopher Tolkien could
this dustup be more obsessive/compulsive micromanaging by CT?
Some sort of mild domestic and/or relatives "dirt" disagreement
which CT could fear would damage dad's reputation?

(Think the scenes in the movie Avalon where the relatives get into
a long-term feud over "you cut the turkey before I got there)."
Something like that?
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Old 11-17-2010, 09:39 AM   #37
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Thank you, Angie G, for elaborating on what was your mandate or authorisation. This must indeed be bitter for you, after all your efforts, as well as frustrating for all concerned.

I must say I find this all extremely sad and disconcerting, particularly because I've become more and more impressed with Christopher Tolkien's work as I read through HoMe. Protecting the privacy of a living author is laudable, particularly in our age of paparazzi and mudrakers and personality-driven analysis. Yet once a writer enters the public domain by publishing, he becomes a legitimate study himself. It's just not possible to pretend that we can return to medieval conditions of manuscripts where all that exists is the text and the author is a great unknown.

When will copyright run out in these matters? Apparently later rather than sooner scholarship will come to terms with the writer behind all that pipe smoke.

And by the way, for those curious, nothing I heard in the Oxonmoot session in any way to my mind reflected badly on JRR or other members of the family. Not that I suspect everything was covered there.
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Old 11-17-2010, 09:54 AM   #38
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Tuor you are showing the dangers of selective quotation! The preceding paragraph of the introduction to the letters explains that there had to be careful selection editing due to the sheer volume and that priority was given to what was relevant to the writing, and later states that it was he and not Christopher who made the selection. Loveletters are seldom of interest to the non-participants and may be quite cringeworthy - as Maupassant said " Love has only one story - always the same" . Important to remember that many letters had no more significance than a quick phonecall or text in the days when it was the only form of non-direct communication. Not all letters were significant; not all omissions are sinister.
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Old 11-17-2010, 09:57 AM   #39
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Let's not forget there have been volumes concerning Tolkien and his work published by Christopher Tolkien, starting with Letters -- through HME, including for example (and relatively recently) Hammond and Scull's detailed Chronology of Tolkien's life.
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Old 11-17-2010, 10:18 AM   #40
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He also provided some assistance to the BBC radio production at least in matter of pronunciation. However it may be unfair to personalise this and equate the estate estate with Christopher alone. However I think the key phrase is "Tolkien and his work". Christopher has spent over thirty years bringing us his father's work over 15 substantial volumes of it ...are we being greedy to demand access to that which isn't related to his work?
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