'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 12 December 2013

Vintage Review: Letters from Father Christmas

There have been various editions of this wonderful collection from J. R. R. Tolkien, originally published in 1976 as The Father Christmas Letters. The copy I have was a Christmas gift, and is a revised hardcover edition called Letters From Father Christmas, complete with reproductions of the many original letters and drawings, including some previously unpublished.

Each Christmas, Tolkien’s children received a spidery, handwritten letter which appeared to be from Father Christmas himself. They were sent in carefully decorated and addressed envelopes, with unique stamps and postmarks designed to match. Just as he did with the world of Middle Earth, Tolkien created an entire world inhabited by Father Christmas, polar bears, goblins and a host of other characters. Life at the North Pole is not boring.

“It is a light Christmas again, I am glad to say - the Northern Lights have been especially good. There is a lot to tell you. You have heard that the Great Polar Bear chopped his paw when he was cutting Christmas Trees. His right one - I mean not his left; of course it was wrong to cut it, and a pity too for he spent a lot of the Summer learning to write better so as to help me with my winter letters.”

The first Father Christmas letter was sent in 1920 to Tolkien’s three-year-old son, John. They continued to arrive as each of his children were born and grew up, right into the 1940s. Some are short and simple, others are much longer, and more elaborate. Detailed drawings came with the letters and complement the stories they tell, showing Tolkien was a clever artist as well as author.

Letters From Father Christmas is suited to being read at any time of the year, however it is a fabulous book for getting into the festive spirit - try reading one of the letters each night leading up to Christmas and see how excited your children get. This is a truly special book which can be enjoyed by the whole family.

Title: Letters From Father Christmas
Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 1999
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9780261103856
For ages: 5+
Type: Junior Fiction