9.0 Editor's Pick
August 19, 2011

What J.R.R. Tolkien said to the Nazis when they asked if he was Jewish.

With Ariel mermaiding about again, and Rings of Power by Amazon (ugh, it’s like Mordor doing a doc on the Shire) out, folks are talking about diversity, and representation, and lack thereof.

So, lest anyone wonder if Tolkien had a bigoted bone in his pipe and tweed suit, let us remember…

Read: “My name isn’t Waylon ‘Lewis.’”
For more: “The Hobbit: 1 Reason why it must be Read, not just Watched.”
Bonus: Why Tolkein’s son hates Peter Jackson’s Hobbit & Lord of the Rings movies.

J.R.R. Tolkien:

If I am to understand…
…that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people.

My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject—which should be sufficient.

I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army.

I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.


Via Reddit: “In 1938, Tolkien was preparing to release The Hobbit in Germany. The publishers first wanted to know if he was of Aryan descent. This was his response.”


Equality bonus round:


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