John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was Merton Professor of English language and literature for more than a decade and was recognized as an authority on Old and Middle English. He is perhaps best known for the popular novels based on his own mythology–”The Hobbit”and “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy–however, in addition Tolkien published a number of philological and critical studies.
This audio is from a tape recording that Tolkien made in August 1952. “The Lord of the Rings,” on which he’d worked for over 14 years, had been refused by publishers and he had almost given up hope of ever seeing it in print. But this recording made him believe in it enough again to prompt him to send it to a former pupil who had become a publisher. The result was that even during his lifetime over three million copies were sold.
Listen to a rare recording featuring Tolkien himself reading from a poem in Elvish and beginning “Ailaurie lantar lassi surinen.” It can be found in “The Lord of the Rings,” Book Two, Chapter VIII.