Hear Tolkien Read from The Lord of the Rings


Since Oxford Libraries recently announced a new book and exhibit about J.R.R. Tolkien, the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, now is the perfect opportunity to listen to some archival audio from him.

The clips here were first shared by Eugene F. Douglass Jr. along with Maria Popova from Brainpickings. According to lore, Tolkien initially recorded himself reading The Hobbit in 1952. He was on a vacation to Worcestershire, and he stayed with friend and colleague George Sayer. Commercially available tape recorders were still fairly new, and Sayer had recently acquired one. With nothing better to do, the pair spent some time playing with device. Tolkien was fascinated by it, and his interest led him to make several audio recordings over the years.

The recordings here are just a few of the ones that survive. The one at the top of the page is of Tolkien reading from The Fellowship of the Ring, starting with chapter one. The clip below features Tolkien singing Sam’s “The Rhyme of the Troll” from chapter twelve of the same book.

Hearing Tolkien speak and sing is a wonderful opportunity. It’s also, I think, a great way to start off this week.


16 thoughts on “Hear Tolkien Read from The Lord of the Rings

  1. wow, the voice of the master. what an honor to hear it like he meant it to be done. Thanks for bringing this to our attention. I’ve often wondered the ‘how to’, that these great authors accomplished their craft.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Not having heard him in real life but having read some of his other ‘stuff’ I somehow expected Tolkien to be more ‘Henry Higgins’, especially when reading the poems. But I must admit that his singing of them is impressive. Thanks for the insight.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I know
        I recently read his …sorry to disappoint but because of my mbbs
        And one acquaintance of mine described it as boring
        This holiday I have been astounded by him as I wrote on my blog …his imagination is quite something…I believe he was many things but boring

        Liked by 1 person

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