The letters, dated 1956, had been on loan to the Oxfordshire County Council since 2000, and though the council assured the library that they had been “stored safely and in appropriate conditions,” the Deddington Library staff are excited to have the letters under their care once again.
These letters concern Tolkien’s appearance as a speaker (though not the guest of honor – he had yet to gain the status he enjoyed in later years) at the library’s opening in December 1956. The first letter is one of acceptance, in which he writes, “though I dislike talking [in this sense], lecturing or addressing a gathering, I should have been sorry to refuse your invitation.” In the second letter, he pledges a copy of his next book to the library in apology for his apparently inadequate performance at the opening. It seems, however, that Deddington never recieved the promised book.
Librarian Stella O’Neill and her staff are “thrilled to have copies of the letters on display in the library.”