lunedì 24 marzo 2014

The Educational Value of Esperanto: The word of Tolkien in The British Esperantist 1933

Oronzo Cilli[1]

The best known connection between Tolkien and Esperanto has been extracts from a letter by Tolkien published in May 1932 in the journal The British Esperantist. In fact, the wonderful monthly publication of the British Esperantist Association holds at least two other pieces of information that can be useful in reconstructing the relationship between the future author of The Hobbit and of The Lord of the Rings and the artificial language invented by Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof.

Here we present the results of a research conducted on the British magazine and which reveals two episodes in which J.R.R. Tolkien is directly involved: the XXIV British Esperanto Congress in April 1933, and the appeal “The Educational Value of Esperanto” signed by twenty British personalities in May of the same year (and among these…)


Esperanto was created between 1872 and 1887 as a planned language, developed by Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof, a Polish ophthalmologist of Jewish origins. The first Book, Unua Libro (1887), presents it as Lingvo Internacia (trans. “international language”), but soon becomes Esperanto (trans. “he who hopes”, “the hoping one”) from the pseudonym Doktoro Esperanto used by Zamenhof himself. The new language was created with the intent to promote dialogue between different peoples and develop understanding and peace through a second language belonging to humanity, and not just to one people. A language project that is based on the Declaration of Boulogne, at the end of the first World Congress of Esperanto was celebrated in Boulogne-sur-Mer, in France, in 1905 and promoted by the French lawyer Alfred Michaux, and on the 1996 Prague Manifesto.

Since 1905, every year the Universal Esperanto Association (UEA) celebrates the Universal Congress, usually in July or August, which in Esperanto is called the Universala Kongreso de Esperanto or UK, with the participation of Esperanto speakers and members of the Esperanto community. The last Congress was that of Reykjavik in Iceland in 2013, and the next ones will be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina in 2014, and in Lille, France in 2015 (which will also be the hundredth anniversary of its inception).

The Universal Esperanto Association (in Esperanto Universala Esperanto-Asocio, UEA) founded in 1908 by Swiss journalist Hector Hodler is the leading international organization of Esperanto speakers with its official headquarters in Rotterdam, though it also has headquarters at the United Nations in New York. The UEA has members in one hundred and twenty countries and maintains official relations with the United Nations and with UNESCO, boasting about one hundred national structures in the world.

Among the national organizations, the British one is the oldest, the Esperanto-Asocio de Britio (BEA). It was founded in 1904 and later became the national division in 1933. From the start it launched its own periodical, The British Esperantist. With headquarters in London[2], it is the largest Esperanto association of the United Kingdom, which it represents in the UEA.

But as happens in other countries, also in the UK Esperanto associations soon spring up in other cities. In Oxford, where Tolkien lived and taught, an association was founded on January 23, 1930.

1930 - Oxford and the Universal Congress of Esperanto

In 1930, the site chosen to host the 22nd World Congress of Esperanto is precisely the university city of Oxford[3]. The week of August 2 to 9 is chosen, and it was precisely in January of this year, as recorded by the monthly «International Language» in the March issue, that the “Oxford University has now followed suit. On the 23rd January, the Oxford University Esperanto Society was founded and a class formed of fifteen students from different colleges. The Society has received official recognition from the University authorities[4].

The chairman of the Universal Congress is Bernard Long, Bachelor of Arts and adviser to the BEA; the vice-president is W.E. Collinson, Professor of German and Esperanto Buchanan Lecturer at the University of Liverpool.

In the program of the week-long conference, the session of the Central International Committee is scheduled for the afternoon of Saturday, August 2, and after that the session of the General Council; in the same evening the participants are guests of the Mayor of Oxford, William Stobie. On Sunday morning, after Mass[5] photographs are taken, among which the most famous is that of a group of participants in the 1907 Congress of Cambridge[6].

There is an afternoon session and then a free evening. The first work session takes place on Monday morning; in the afternoon the Summer University begins with its first lesson. There are technical meetings, and in the evening, dancing in the national costumes. The U.E.A. meeting takes place on Tuesday morning; in the afternoon again the Summer University and the technical meetings. The evening is dedicated to the meeting for public propaganda.

Wednesday morning opens with the second work session; in the afternoon again the Summer University and technical meetings. The evening sees half of the participants engaged in some games and the other half at a concert. Thursday morning is dedicated to outings, and the congress participants can choose between: a) A visit to the royal castle of Windsor, and a trip on the Thames with special vessels. b) A drive to Banbury, Kenilworth, Warwick, Stratford-on-Avon and Broadway. c) A drive to Newbury, Andover, Salisbury, Stonehenge, Marlborough and Wantage. And finally a drive to Cirencester, Stroud, Gloucester, Cheltenham, North Leach and the Cotswold hills. In the evening the participants who were at the concert engage in games, and those who had engaged in the games attend the concert. On Friday morning the third work session takes place, and the evening ends with a dance. On Saturday morning the congress ends with the last session.

At the XXII Congress of Oxford there are 1211 participants from 29 different countries. England boasts the largest group with 623 participants; there are six from Australia and nine from Japan but there are only eight from Italy[7]. Delegates also receive the official pentagonal-shaped Brooch (to symbolize the five continents) made specially for the Congress. The brooch is enamelled with the Verda Stelo (Esperanto for “the Green star” and symbol of Esperantists, with the green symbolizing hope and the star symbolizing the five continents) which bestrides the repoussè image of the University of Oxford. The first four sides of the badge have the message “XXII Universala Kongreso de Esperanto”; on the bottom side, glazed with a green background, “Oxford 2-9 August 1930”.

1930 - And J.R.R. Tolkien?

In light of all that has been reported thus far, it is natural to ask if among the participants there was also Professor J.R.R. Tolkien. Well, from personal consultation of the list of 1211 participants (published in the monthly «International Language» from the January 1930 issue to the October issue of the same year[8] - with exception to the September issue - edited by Cecil Charles Goldsmith, secretary of the BEA), and from the consultation of the Acts of Congress published the same year[9], the name of J.R.R. Tolkien does not appear.

This however does not mean that Tolkien did not take part in it, but it is possible that he only participated in some activities rather than in the entire conference week. The Catholic weekly «The Tablet» writes that «In connection with the International Esperanto Congress at Oxford, a sermon in that language was preached to the Catholic delegates in the Dominican church at Blackfriars, by Father Gaffney, O.P.»[10]. It is possible that the Faith, the interest in this language and, not least, the Dominican convent of Blackfriars may have brought him to attend the church service.

He is familiar with the Dominican convent of Blackfriars. On Saturday May 19, 1945, Tolkien serves Mass at that convent. This can be seen from a letter he sent on May 15th to Mrs. Michal Williams, on the same day of the death of her husband, Charles, following an operation. Charles Williams was an English writer and poet and a historical member of the Inklings together with C.S. Lewis and with J.R.R. Tolkien.

He writes, «[...] Fr. Gervase Mathew[11] is saying Mass at Blackfriars[12] on Saturday at 8 a.m., and I shall serve him; but of course I shall have you all in my prayers immediately and continually: for such as they are worth[...]»[13].

Unfortunately we have no confirmation in any published book or in letters by the English author himself of his participation in the August 9, 1930 religious ceremony. The only certainty is that Tolkien knows about the congress for sure, as he writes about it in the opening of A Secret Vice, included in the collection edited by his son Christopher, The Monsters and the Critics and other Essays. A text in which Tolkien brilliantly expounds on artificial languages ​​and their alleged uselessness, especially about the particular pleasure that its creators and the few “initiated” in it take in it. As is well known, however, the text is not dated and the assumptions on the year of writing are divided between those who date it back to 1931 because of the incipit, and those who claim it was written shortly after the Congress in 1930 and then revised in some of its parts for a subsequent conference.

Professor Tolkien writes in his opening speech:

«Some of you may have heard that there was, a year or more ago, a Congress in Oxford, an Esperanto Congress; or you may not have heard. Personally I am a believer in an ‘artificial’ language, at any rate for Europe - a believer, that is, in its desirability, as the one thing antecedently necessary for uniting Europe, before it is swallowed by non-Europe; as well as for many other good reasons - a believer in its possibility because the history of the world seems to exhibit, as far as I know it, both an increase in human control of (or influence upon) the uncontrollable, and a progressive widening of the range of more or less uniform languages. Also I particularly like Esperanto, not least because it is the creation ultimately of one man, not a philologist, and is therefore something like a ‘human language bereft of the in­conveniences due to too many successive cooks’ - which is as good a description of the ideal artificial language (in a particular sense) as I can give. No doubt the Esperantist propaganda touched on all these points. I cannot say. But it is not important, because my concern is not with that kind of artificial language at all»[14].

At present, in the absence of documents, every hypothesis is plausible. But the Tolkien-Esperanto relationship does not end here.

1932 - Tolkien Esperantist

If on one hand there is no confirmation of his participation in the 1930 Congress, though the Author is inclined to assume he was present, on the other hand there is a well-known paper stating his “commitment” to the Esperanto language. It is a letter that Tolkien sent to the Secretary of the Education Committee of the British Esperantist Association after he appointed Tolkien to the Board of Honorary Advisers. The extract of this letter is published in the May 1932 issue of The British Esperantist, under the title A philologist on Esperanto[15].

Tolkien writes that he was interested in the international language of Esperanto “as a philologist, and as every philologist should”, considering it “an important and interesting linguistic phenomenon” which he is sympathetic to.

He claims not to be a practical Esperantist[16] as, in his opinion, an adviser should at least in some measure be (referring to his recent nomination). He admits that he knows it, “as a philologist would say”, because he had learned it some twenty-five years before (somewhere around 1907; the letter is from 1932) and had not since forgotten its grammar and its structure, and had at one time read a fair amount written in it, and being trained in such things he feels “competent to have an opinion concerning the defects and excellencies”. Having said this, however, he feels he cannot make any useful contribution except as a philologist and critic.

However Tolkien’s view of the international language situation is that such services, however good in theory, are in practice not wanted, and that the time has come that the philological theorist is “a hindrance and a nuisance”. But this is precisely the strongest reason he has for supporting Esperanto.

Esperanto, Tolkien continues, seems to him without doubt, “taken all round, superior to all present competitors”, resulting to be in first place and having “won the widest measure of practical acceptance” as well as having developed the most advanced organization.

Tolkien compares it to an Orthodox church located in front of not only unbelievers but also schismatics and heretics, “a situation – he states – that was foretold by the philologist. But granted a certain necessary degree of simplicity, internationality, and (I would add) individuality and euphony – which Esperanto certainly reaches and passes – it seems to me obvious that much the most important problem to be solved by a would-be international language is universal propagation. An inferior instrument that has a chance of achieving this is worth a hundred theoretically more perfect”. For the Oxford philologist, there is no finality in linguistic invention and taste. “Nicety of invention in detail is of comparatively little importance, beyond the necessary minimum; and theorists and inventors (whose band I would delight to join) are simply retarders of the movement, if they are willing to sacrifice unanimity to ‘improvement’”.

Tolkien also admits that the technical improvement of the system, aimed at greater simplicity and perspicuity of structure or at a greater internationality, tends to destroy the “humane” or aesthetic aspect of the invented idiom. “This apparently unpractical aspect appears to be largely overlooked by theorists; though I imagine it is not really unpractical, and will have ultimately great influence on the prime matter of universal acceptance”. Towards the end, he cites N**, probably Novial[17], as ingenious and more simple than Esperanto, but hideous because it’s a “factory product”, “made with spare parts”, and has “no gleam of the individuality, coherence and beauty, which appear in the great natural idioms” and to a good extent appear also in Esperanto, proof of the genius of the original author.

He concludes with a piece of advice for all those who have the time or inclination to concern themselves with the international language movement: “Back Esperanto loyally”.

Thus far is all we know about the Esperantist Tolkien, without prejudice to the essay written by Arden R. Smith and Patrick Wynne Tolkien and Esperanto (“Seven: An Anglo-American Literary Review”, no. 17, 2000, pp. 27-46) which to today is the most complete and exhaustive of its kind; and yet from a careful research carried out on the monthly magazine of the BEA we can find two more items of interest for scholars and enthusiasts.

1933 - Tolkien Esperantist and Protagonist

The Esperantist activity of Tolkien does not come to an end in 1932, and we know this from two 1933 issues of The British Esperantist.

The name of the future author of The Hobbit and of The Lord of the Rings can be found on the January 1933 issue, quoted in the announcement of the XXIV British Esperanto Congress, held in the same year during Easter in the city of Oxford.

On this page of the Esperantist magazine we read:

Oxford-Easter, 1933.

«Patrons: H.R.H. The Duke of Connaught, K.G.; His Worship the Mayor of Oxford (Alderman G. H. Brown); Sir Michael Sadler, K.C.S.I., C.B.; Professor Braun Holtz; Councillor Rev. John Carter, Dr. A.D. Lindsay, C.B.E., Master of Balliol College, Professor J.R. Tolkien, and A. Baratt Brown, Principal of Ruskin College[18].

Tolkien, in fact, turns out to be among the supporters of the Congress along with other Oxonian personalities of the time.

The Congress is held at the Randolph Hotel on Braumont Street in Oxford, and for the occasion there are also courses of Esperanto being organized similar to the one reported by «The Tablet» on March 25, 1933: «Following upon the British Esperanto Congress which is to be held at Oxford in Easter week, Father Andrew Cseh, the English League of Catholic Esperantists announces, is to give a short course of instruction in Esperanto. Father Cseh is a Hungarian, whose system of teaching has met with remarkable success»[19].
The Congress schedule for Friday, April 14th, has the opening of registrations at 9 am; in the morning and in the afternoon a stroll through Oxford, and in the evening a trial lesson of Esperanto. The annual meeting of the B.E.A. takes place Saturday, April 15th in the morning; in the afternoon, a meeting of teachers and other Esperanto and education enthusiasts by the title: “The current position of Esperanto in schools in Great Britain”. The speaker at the meeting: Montagu Christie Butler[20], President of the B.E.A., with Novell Smith, M.A. (former Dean of the Sherborne School) presiding. Sunday, April 16, after Mass in the Chapel of New College, led by W. Severn, the photograph of the participants in the Congress. In the afternoon group workshops and an evening concert. On the last day, Monday, April 17th, excursions all day in Kenilworth, Warwick and Stratford. There are also examinations for I.B.E.A. and L.B.E.A. diplomas. The Congress Secretariat is headed by J.F. Brendel, 89 Dene Road, Headington in Oxford. All of the Congress evenings are organized by the Oxford Esperanto Society.

We don’t have any speech from Tolkien at the Congress in the Esperanto magazine; if that were the case, it could be argued that A secret vice could have been the text of that address. But this is just another of the many hypotheses.

The second reference to Tolkien is in my opinion perhaps more important than the note published in 1932, it can be found in the May issue of the same magazine (The British Esperantist) and in the same year (1933), and I retain it to be closely related to the previous one.
On the May issue, on the front page, there is a text by the title The educational value of Esperanto, which was written the month before in April, probably at the end of the XXIV Congress which we have referred to seeing that on the Saturday during the Congress there was a meeting entitled “The Educational value of Esperanto”. And this would confirm the presence of Tolkien at that Congress. We read in the text of the document that

«in view of the great need, under modern conditions, for a simple yet adequate international auxiliary language, which could be learned in all civilised lands, and freely employed in speech and writing in all walks of life, we desire to call attention to the merits of Esperanto, and its place in education».

“This language”, it continues:

«Has now stood the test of forty-five years practical use. Its success has been demonstrated at no less than twenty-four International Congresses, commonly attended by upwards of 1,000 persons, representing thirty to forty nationalities. No interpreters are needed at these gatherings, or at the sectional meetings of specialists which are held in conjunction with them or at other times».

The document praises the achievements of the language: “Not only is there a wide-spread and fluent use of the language for travel, cultural intercourse, and personal friendship, but its achievements for technical and professional purposes are already considerable”. But also:

«Esperanto lectureships have been established at the Universities of Liverpool, Geneva and Cracow; original works in the language have been published inter alia by Prof. Baudouin on Auto-suggestion, by Prof. Bovet on Psycho-analysis, and by Prof. Collinson on Language».

Just as:

«Much scientific and technical matter has appeared, particularly in Japan, where it has included papers and treatises on such diverse subjects as the strength of materials, inorganic and organic chemistry, and meteorology; in the same country a pharmaceutical vocabulary has been issued in Esperanto, and several technical dictionaries in the language have been published in Europe, including one of nearly 4,000 terms issued by the international society of Esperantist doctors. During 1931 alone, 1,204 Esperanto talks and 514 lessons were broadcast from wireless stations in 21 countries, including Japan».

The document continues by arguing that:

«The international society of Esperantist teachers has on its files the names of nearly 7,000

teachers (in sixty countries) who know the language and over 1,000 schools (in thirty-two countries) where Esperanto classes have been set up. These include elementary and secondary schools in Great Britain. and it is of interest to mention that the Board of Education for England and Wales has for many years permitted school and evening classes in Esperanto when a request has been made for their establishment”. The signatories write that "we advocate the adoption of Esperanto as the first language to be studied, after the mother tongue, in the schools of all countries, both on general grounds and for the following specific reasons».

Which are then listed just so:

«1. A working knowledge of Esperanto can be obtained in a remarkably short time compared with that required for national languages, which abound in difficulties of grammar, idiom, and pronunciation; thus the study of it is profitable even for pupils who have not the time or ability to learn an ordinary foreign language well enough to be able to use it.

2. It tests linguistic ability, and assists the teacher more rapidly to select the pupils who can profitably take up the study of other tongues, to which it is an excellent introduction.

3. Its logical grammar, and the fact that its method of expression is lucid and unambiguous, tend to develop accuracy in the use of words.

4. A knowledge of Esperanto not only acts as a stimulus to the learning of other languages, but also leads to a more effective study of geography, including an interest, gained through correspondence, in the life of other countries in all parts of the civilised world.

5. Esperanto literature, both original and translated, is constantly increasing, and is already sufficient to justify a study of the language for its own sake».

The conclusion states “we heartily associate ourselves with the efforts that are being made to introduce Esperanto as a regular subject of instruction, and to encourage its use in the schools of the world”.

The twenty authoritative signatures follow, and the last one, surprisingly, is that of:

Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon[21], University of Oxford.

This document has become a veritable manifesto, as we can see at the December 1951 Australian Esperanto Congress held in Sydney, in which Herbert Koppel from Melbourne, secretary of the Australian Esperanto Association, shows to a reporter “a manifesto printed in favor of the language, signed by about twenty English writers and scholars, among G.P. Gooch, the historian, and Professor J.R.R. Tolkien, professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford[22].


This perusal through Congresses and Esperantists in the Oxford of the early 1930s clearly is not a point of arrival as regards the relationship between Tolkien and Esperanto. It is to be considered a starting point for new and more extensive research on a bibliographical and linguistic aspect of some interest.

More information on the 1933 Congress in Oxford could be dug up, or on the 1930 one, perhaps discovering other connections with the society built up around the language invented by Zamenhof. Tolkien is physically present on at least one occasion, that of the Congress in April 1933 in Oxford. But we know that the interest in this new language begins in 1907, with the page in The Book of Foxrook; and then continues with all that we have written above, though later he seems to change his mind as is clear from the note written on the draft of the opening paragraph of A secret vice, or more likely on the draft for review. His son Christopher, in a note to the text, writes that his father had made a note that he was no longer “so sure that [an artificial language] would be a good thing”, and said that “at present I think we should be likely to get an inhumane language without any cooks at all - their place being taken by nutrition experts and dehydrators[23]. And a few years later he developed the idea that legends and stories depend on the language which they belong to, also with reference to Esperanto. He wrote in a letter to a certain Mr. Thompson on January 14, 1956 that:

«It was just as the 1914 War burst on me that I made the discovery that ‘legends’ depend on the language to which they belong; but a living language depends equally on the ‘legends’ which it conveys by tradition. (For example, that the Greek mythology depends far more on the marvellous aesthetic of its language and so of its nomenclature of persons and places and less on its content than people realize, though of course it depends on both. And vice versa. Volapük, Esperanto, Ido, Novial, and are dead, far deader than ancient unused languages, because their authors never invented any Esperanto legends.)»[24].

In reading this, it is possible to assume that Tolkien began to have a role, or to be recognized as a point of reference, from 1932. Even the appeal of 1933 would confirm that. In fact, in 1931, the name of Tolkien does not appear among the signatories of another appeal towards Esperanto in worldwide education, while there are eight personalities who sign with him the 1933 appeal (T. Grame Bailey, C.B. Fawcett, J.J. Findlay, Alexandra Fisher, J.C. Flugel, S. Margery Fry, C.W. Kimmins and Nowell Smith)[25].

After 1933, there are no indications as to the Esperantist Tolkien, and I think this might be a good starting point…

The signatories of the April 1933 manifesto The Educational Value of Esperanto are here included:

We heartily associate ourselves with the efforts that are being made to introduce Esperanto as a regular subject of instruction, and to encourage its use in the schools of the world.

          Reader in Urdu and Hindustani, University of London.
T. C. BAILLE, M.A., D.Sc.,
          Principal, West Ham Municipal College.
          Professor of German and Buchanan Lecturer in Esperanto, University of Liverpool.
          President, National Union Teachers, 1929.
C. B. FAWCETT, B.Litt., D.Sc.,
          Professor of Economic and Regional Geography, University of London.
J. J. FINDLAY, M.A., Ph.D., M.Ed.,
          Honorary Professor of Education, University of Manchester.
          Headmistress. Girls’ County School, Bishop Auckland.
J. C. FLUGEL. B.A., D.Sc.,
          Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Psychology, University College, London.
          Late Principal of Somerville College, Oxford.
G. P. GOOCH, M.A., D.Litt.,
          Fellow of the British Academy.
G. H. GREEN, M.A., Ph.D.,
          Lecturer in Education, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth.
          Professor of Welsh Literature, University College of Wales, Aberystwyth.
          Reader in Comparative Slavonic Philology, King’s College, London.
C. W. KIMMINS, M.A., D.Sc.,
          Lots Chief Inspector, Education Dept.. L.C.C. (1904-23).
          Director of Education, City of Winchester.
Late Headmistress, Municipal Secondary Girls’ School, Swansea. Late Editor of “The Woman Teacher”.
W. RAMSDEN[26], D.M.,
Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford. Emeritus Professor of Bio-Chemistry, University of Liverpool.
          Formerly Headmaster of Sherborne.
          Principal of Dalton Hall, University of Manchester.
          Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, University of Oxford.

April 1933.

[1] The author would like to thank  John R. D’Orazio for the English translation.
[2] Since 2001 the headquarters have been moved to Stoke-on-Trent, in Staffordshire, at the Wedgwood Memorial College of Barlaston, where the Montagu Butler Library (one of the most important libraries of Esperanto in the world) also has its headquarters.
[3] In 1929 it was held in Budapest, Hungary, and in 1931 in Krakow, Poland.
[4] Esperanto in the Universities, in «International Language», London, vol. VII, March 1930, p. 52.
[5] The contacts between Esperantists and the Catholic Church were present from the beginning. In 1906, on June 2, Pius X received in audience the Roman Esperanto group founded by Msgr. Luigi Giambene jokingly renamed Msgr. Esperanto. The relations are consolidated by the end of the second postwar period, when Pius XII in 1950 greeted in their own language the Esperantists who had convened at a general audience in St. Peter’s Basilica.
[6] Those published here are visible on the site of the Österreichische Nationalbibliothek.
[7] Listo de Kongresanoj, in «International Language», London, vol. VII, October 1930, p. 236.
[8] The list of participants, which includes First and Last Name, academic or associative title, personal address, City of origin and nationality, is subdivided just so: January, no. 1-61; February, no. 62-126; March, no. 127-239; April, no. 240-319; May, no. 320-428; June, no. 429-521; July, no. 522-646; August, no. 647-1097; October, no. 1098 to 1211. In «International Language», London, vol. VII, January-October 1930.
[9] Dudekdua Universala Kongreso de Esperanto, Internacia Centra Komitato de la Esperanto-Movado, Geneve, 1930, pp. 140. To consult this volume, I would like to thank the National Esperanto Library and Archive, the biggest Esperanto library in Italy, and one of the richest in the world. Founded in 1972 as the official library of the Italian Esperanto Federation, it is now a public collection, hosted by the State Archive in Massa.
[10] Orbis Terrarum, in «The Tablet», London, August 9, 1930, p. 193 .
[11] Gervase Mathew, class of 1905, Tolkien’s friend since childhood, entered the Dominican Blackfriars in 1934 and remains there till the year of his death in 1976.
[12] He will return to the Dominican convent on October 26, 1966, to read his Smith of Wootton Major during an event organized by the Prior of the Dominican convent, Fr. Bede Baylei, and by Fr. Hugh Maycock, Director of the Religious Institute Pusey House which is located next to the Dominican convent and on the same sidewalk as the Eagle and Child pub. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull remind us that “even though it was a very wet evening, over 800 people attended, more than the Refectory could hold, with people even outside in the hallway” [Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull, The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, vol. I, Chronology, 2006, p. 678-79]. The event is also mentioned in Smith of Wootton Major in the new English edition edited by Verlyn Flieger and translated into Italian by Lorenzo Gammarelli for Bompiani editions.
[13] Humphrey Carpenter and Christopher Tolkien, The letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Allen and Unwin, no. 99.
[14] J. R. R. Tolkien, A Secret Vice, in The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays, edited by Christopher Tolkien, p. 198 .
[15] J.R.R. Tolkien, A Philologist on Esperanto, in «The British Esperantist», London, vol. XXVIII, no. 325, May 1932, p. 182.
[16] In fact, the Bodleian Library in Oxford keeps a notebook of Tolkien, Book of the Foxrook, with a number of annotations written at age 17, which show the knowledge of and interest towards the Esperanto language considerably more than would be understood from this letter.
[17] Artificial language created by the Danish linguist Otto Jespersen, originally published in 1928 with a vocabulary based on that of the Germanic and Romance languages, the grammar on that of the English language with a strong influence of Esperanto and of Ido.
[18] The British Esperantist, London, vol. XXIX, no. 333, January 1933, p. 3.
[19] Orbis Terrarum, in «The Tablet», London, March 25, 1933, p. 384.
[20] Montagu Christie Butler (London, January 25, 1884 - May 5, 1970) was an academic, musician and British Esperantist. Butler joined the Lingva Komitato, the organism which was then in charge of overseeing the evolution of the language (the role is now held by Akademio de Esperanto) and served from 1916 to 1934 as secretary of the Brita Esperanto-Asocio.
[21] Tolkien receives the professorship of Anglo-Saxon Rawlinson and Bosworth - from the name of the two benefactors Richard Rawlinson, who, after his death in 1755 donated the funds to establish it, and Joseph Bosworth who in 1858 served in this capacity and also wanted to add his own name - in 1925 and holds it until 1945, the year in which he became a fellow at Merton College.
[22] Esperanto Enthusiasts To Hold Conference, «The Sydney Morning Herald», January 1, 1952, p. 2.
[23] Annotation by Christopher Tolkien in J. R. R. Tolkien, A Secret Vice, in The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays, edited by Christopher Tolkien, p. 219. 
[24] Humphrey Carpenter and Christopher Tolkien, The letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Allen and Unwin, no. 180.
[25] Various Authors, Esperanto in the Educational World, in «International Language», London, vol. VIII, May 1931, p. 87.
[26] Walter Ramsden D.M. Doctor of Medicine (1868-1947), we find him mentioned in a letter Tolkien wrote to his son Christopher on May 31, 1944, in which he relates to his son that he had dined the previous Thursday (March 25), with “three old gents who were very affable”: H.L. Drake, Walter Ramsden and L.E. Salt, of Pembroke College, where Tolkien had a teacher’s scholarship [Humphrey Carpenter and Christopher Tolkien, The letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Allen and Unwin, no. 72].

Write to author.