Josh L. pointed me to an article from 2001 at Telegraph.co.uk that discusses with Tolkien’s children and relatives the fame and recognition they must endure simply because of their last name, “Tolkien”. Here’s an excerpt:
Is Christopher Tolkien “in hiding”?Father John Tolkien [JRR Tolkien’s son], a retired Roman Catholic priest, says that family members are already constantly harassed by devotees of his father’s work and predicts that the extra interest generated by the films will mean that anyone with the Tolkien name will now have to disguise their origins.
“The Tolkien family is under perpetual abuse of one kind or another. It goes on all the time,” said Fr Tolkien, 83. “I am anticipating endless bother when the film actually comes out.” His outburst sheds light on rumours within the film industry of a rift between the Tolkien family and New Line Cinema, the makers of the film. The film rights to The Lord of the Rings have not been owned by the Tolkien family since the 1960s, leaving New Line Cinema with no legal obligation to consult the author’s children.
Despite its status as one of the most eagerly anticipated releases of 2001, members of the Tolkien estate have refused all offers of involvement with the production, and until now have declined to give a reason. J. R. R. Tolkien himself, a professor of English at Oxford University who died in 1973, opposed the commercialisation of his work.
Fr Tolkien said: “It’s quite incredible. When I think when we were growing up these were just stories that we were told. Personally, when you’ve grown up with something you don’t want someone else putting their finger on it.” He added that many of those harassing the family were “people wanting money”. Others were obsessed fans wanting to catch a glimpse of their idol’s relatives. His brother Christopher was already in hiding, he said.
“Christopher, who acts as literary editor for the Tolkien estate, doesn’t live in England any more and when he comes to England he doesn’t use his own name. Christopher lives in France and has had some trouble recently with people trying to get at him. He keeps wild boar in his garden, which is a little bit dangerous but they are useful when people become a nuisance.”
I attempted to find some more info on whether or not they are truly “in hiding”, or even if they are assailed at every public appearance by fans… but no luck. Does anyone else out there have any info on what the status of the family is these days?!