Priscilla Tolkien, last surviving child of JRR Tolkien, has died at the age of 92.

The news comes from Lady Margaret Hall college in Oxford:

The college announces with regret the death of Priscilla Tolkien on 28 February 2022, at the age of 92, after a short illness. Priscilla entered LMH in 1948 to read English and afterwards enjoyed a varied career in social work, studying social sciences at the LSE in the late 1950s, then serving as a probation officer and later as a tutor at High Wycombe College. She was one of the generation of women who, after the Second World War, pioneered the entry of women into the professions, along with so many of her LMH contemporaries.

She valued her time at LMH above all for the opportunities it gave her to meet and make friends with women from many very different walks of life. Her friendships from those days were and remained forever special to her. Her portrait, commissioned by Michael Gabriel, and given by her to LMH, hangs in Talbot Hall.

Priscilla Tolkien was the coauthor of The Tolkien Family Album, which remains one of the best published memoirs on her father's life. She also authored numerous articles for various Tolkien journals and fanzines.

JRR Tolkien's last known piece of writing was a letter to Priscilla, four days before he died.

She became the honorary vice president of The Tolkien Society in 1986 and for many years represented the Tolkien family at public events. She was also a director of The Tolkien Estate. Prior to retirement, she was a social worker, lecturer, and tutor.

Hammond and Scull note that her childhood fondness for toy bears and other soft toys inspired parts of The Father Christmas Letters, and Humphrey Carpenter supposes that Tolkien's original name for Frodo ("Bingo") was taken from Priscilla's toy koala bear. (Though Christopher notes in The History of Middle-earth vol 6 that he finds this part hard to believe as him and his sister remember the Bingos as being "composed of monomaniac religious despotism and a lust for destruction through high explosive").

  • The last sentence puts me in mind of Tolkien's comments about anarchy, specifically the "whiskered men with bombs" phrase, though likely wholly unconnected. Commented Nov 10, 2022 at 4:43


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