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Tree and Leaf. Smith. Beorhtnoth. 1975
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Back to previous page Record Number: 21320
Tree and Leaf. Smith. Beorhtnoth. 1975 Tree and Leaf
Smith of Wootton Major
The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth

by J.R.R. Tolkien
First Edition 1975
Unwin Books
ISBN 0048200158
Cover illustration by Pauline Baynes
176 pages
Price: £1.00

A collection containing:

  • Tree and Leaf, a collection by J.R.R. Tolkien, first published in 1964.
  • Smith of Wootton Major, a short story by J.R.R. Tolkien, first published in 1967.
  • The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm’s Son, essays and a dramatic poem by J.R.R. Tolkien, first published in 1953.
Published on 30 October 1975.

The text of Smith of Wootton Major is illustrated by Pauline Baynes.

Details of all British editions of Tree and Leaf, Smith and Beorhtnoth can be found via these links to Tolkienbooks.net:

Publisher’s Blurbs
Tree and Leaf
Fairy stories are not just for children, as anyone who has read Professor Tolkien will know. The taste for them is a natural one, at any age. In his essay, On Fairy Stories, which forms the first part of this book, he rescues them from the academics on the one hand, the philologists and anthropologists, and, on the other, from those who would relegate them to ‘juvenilia’. The second part contains, as an apt and beautiful illustration, one of Professor Tolkien’s earlier short stories, Leaf by Niggle. Like the later and more generous The Lord of the Rings, it shows his mastery of the art of ‘sub-creation’, the power to give to fantasy ‘the inner consistency of reality’.

“The book must be read . . . it goes far to explain the nature of his art and justify his success” – The Cambridge Review

Smith of Wootton Major
In the village of Wootton Major the office of Master Cook was exalted once in twenty-four years by the preparation of a Great Cake to mark the Feast of Good Children. Although the merry-making over which the Cook presided was human and hearty, other, less material powers were exchanged during the ceremonies, and for some the world of man and the world of faery met and blended in a strange, beneficent conjunction.

“The book has that haunting quality characteristic of the best of the “deeper” folk tales. It is a delightful, memorable little story.” – Times Educational Supplement

The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm’s Son
In the year 991 a marauding band of Vikings encountered an English defence-force near Maldon in East Anglia. The English Commander was Beorhtnoth, Duke of Essex, an old man of giant stature; powerful, fearless and proud. He held the advantage of the ground, but out of pride and a misplaced sense of chivalry fell back to allow his opponents a fair fight. In the ensuing battle Beorhtnoth was killed and the English routed.

Professor J.R.R. Tolkien’s dramatic poem, The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth, Beorhthelm’s Son, takes up the story. The night after the fight two servants of the Duke come to the battlefield to retrieve their master’s body. Searching amongst the slain they converse in unheroic terms, about the battle, their ‘needlessly noble’ master and the wastefulness of war. The verse in which they speak is alliterative, but marvellously colloquial – as earthy and elegiac as a Greek chorus – but the burden of their musings points towards change in a rigid, heroic society. Amid the hopeless prospect of ‘ever work and war till the world passes’ a candle of spirituality flickers in a dark land.

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