NewsWire: Tolkien Archive Sale Outstrips Expectations - Reuters

J.R.R. Tolkien.
LONDON (Reuters) - First editions and letters of British fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien sold for 57,000 pounds ($81,650), outstripping experts' estimates, a spokeswoman for the London auction house Christie's said on Friday.

A collection of proof copies, first editions and a sequence of 14 letters about his best-selling fantasy The Lord of the Rings fetched 50,000 pounds at auction, twice the estimated figure.

A hand-written six-page letter Tolkien wrote to his friend George Sayer after the funeral of estranged friend and novelist C.S.Lewis in 1963 sold for 7,000 pounds, seven times its estimate.

Thomas Venning, specialist in autograph letters and manuscripts at Christie's said: "The individual letter was really unexpectedly high. It's a wonderful letter. Very odd and interesting. It starts off talking about C.S.Lewis and turns into an anti-Catholic tirade."

In one of the letters to Sayer, Tolkien asked for help writing publicity for the book which some 100 million people went on to read.

"I find myself quite unable to think of anything that is not too apologetic for 'publicity' or too much the reverse to contemplate. It is like being asked...why you are fond of one of your children."

Interest in The Lord of the Rings has grown in recent months in expectation of a star-studded film version of the epic trilogy about goblins, hobbits and elves. It is released in December.

But Venning said Tolkien's appeal went further than film hype.

"Tolkien sells well in general," he said. "When you get something as interesting as this you always get hot competition."

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