Christopher Tolkien, the son of famed fantasy author J.R.R. Tolkien, has passed away in France at the age of 95, French newspaper Var-Matin reports. He is believed to have died in his sleep some time between Wednesday night and Thursday morning.
Though he was born and raised in England, the youngest son of the Lord of the Rings author spent the last few decades of his life in France, living in quiet obscurity in the countryside at his home, Les Sablons.
Tolkien’s Role In His Father’s Lord of the Rings Books
The younger Tolkien and his brothers would often find themselves sitting around their father as he would regale them with tales of characters and words that he made up entirely in his imagination. By some accounts, Christopher provided feedback for his father, as the elder Tolkien spent over a decade piecing together what would be his seminal work — The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Christopher was also a key player in drawing the maps of Middle Earth that would appear in the books, which were signed C.J.R.T. (the younger Tolkien’s initials). Christopher had the job of editing his father’s maps, which included finding errors and internal inconsistencies. In fact, when the books were re-published in the 1970s, Christopher completely re-drew the original maps to edit out even more mistakes that he had found since the initial run of the books.
Ensuring His Father’s Legacy
When J.R.R. Tolkien died in 1973, Christopher took over management of his father’s works, many of which were unpublished and many more of which were unfinished.
Piecing together his father’s notes, which were often handwritten on scraps of paper, Christopher compiled and published The Silmarillion, a history of Middle Earth. Over the next several years, he would produce other works that took place in his father’s fictional world, all of which he edited. He would also publish stories — based on his father’s notes and incomplete manuscripts — that took place outside of Middle Earth, such as The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún.
The Lord of the Rings Film Trilogy
Christopher also made his opinions of the film adaptations of his father’s books known. When Peter Jackson optioned The Lord of the Rings to create a cinematic trilogy, the world was very excited. However, Christopher did not approve of how Jackson treated his father’s story.
“They gutted the book, making an action film for 15 to 25-year-olds,” he told the French newspaper Le Monde in 2012.
His Own Legacy
Christopher is survived by his second wife, Baillie Klass Tolkien, with whom he had two children, Adam and Rachel.
As of this writing, funeral arrangements have not been made public. Christopher had expressed his wish to be buried in France, Var-Matin reports.