J.R.R. Tolkien Reads from The Lord of the Rings and Sings “Sam’s Rhyme of the Troll” in a Rare Recording
By Maria Popova
In the summer of 1952, sixty-year-old J.R.R. Tolkien (January 3, 1892–September 2, 1973) encountered a tape recorder for the first time, which resulted in some wonderful archival audio of the beloved author reading from The Hobbit. So enchanted was Tolkien with this novel technology that he proceeded to record himself reading much of his work over the years to come.
Reader Eugene F. Douglass, Jr. has kindly compiled and shared with me a trove of these recordings, including Tolkien’s bewitching readings from The Lord of the Rings (public library), beginning with Chapter 1 of Book I, The Fellowship of the Ring — please enjoy:
The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
Of particular delight is the recording of Tolkien singing “Sam’s Rhyme of the Troll” from Chapter 12, The Flight to the Ford:
Complement with Tolkien on why there is no such thing as writing “for children” and the forgotten “children’s book” he wrote and illustrated for his own kids, then treat yourself to other marvelous recordings of beloved writers reading their own work: Mary Oliver reading from Blue Horses, Frank O’Hara reading his “Metaphysical Poem,” Susan Sontag reading her short story “Debriefing,” Dorothy Parker reading her poem “Inscription for the Ceiling of a Bedroom,” and Chinua Achebe reading his little-known poetry.
Published January 15, 2016