Smith of Wootton Major by J.R.R. Tolkien

A charming new pocket edition of one of Tolkien’s major pieces of short fiction, and his only finished work dating from after publication of The Lord of the Rings.

What began as a preface to The Golden Key by George MacDonald eventually grew into this charming short story, so named by Tolkien to suggest an early work by P.G. Wodehouse. Composed almost a decade after The Lord of the Rings, and when his lifelong occupation with the ‘Silmarillion’ was winding down, Smith of Wootton Major was the product of ripened experience and reflection. It was published in 1967 as a small hardback, complete with charming black and white illustrations by Pauline Baynes, and would be the last work of fiction to be published in Tolkien’s own lifetime.

Now, almost 50 years on, this enchanting tale of a wanderer who finds his way into the perilous realm of Faery is being published once again as a pocket hardback. Contained here are many intriguing links to the world of Middle-earth, as well as to Tolkien’s other tales, and this new edition is enhanced with a facsimile of the illustrated first edition, a manuscript of Tolkien’s early draft of the story, notes and an alternate ending, and a lengthy essay on the nature of Faery.

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[HERE was a village once, not very long ago for those with long memories, not very far away for those with long legs]

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(@HarperCollinsUK, 26 February 2015, first published 1967, 229 pages, ebook, borrowed from @AmazonKindle #PrimeReading)

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I must confess, I only read the actual story, Smith of Wootton Major. The book also contains images from the manuscript of the story, notes and a long essay which I did not read. I only really know Tolkien for his Lord of the Rings books so it was nice to be exposed to some more of his work. This is a fun story and I really liked the illustrations scattered throughout. This is fun, engaging fairy tale, the kind of story to read children while sitting around the fire on a cold winter night. I really enjoyed it.

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