After the birth of his first son, Tolkien began to write his children letters from Father Christmas, a tradition that would continue for 23 years. This letter is from 1925.
Top of the World
Near the North Pole
My dear boys,
I am dreadfully busy this year – it makes my hand more shaky than ever when I think of it – and not very rich. In fact, awful things have been happening, and some of the presents have got spoilt and I haven’t got the North Polar Bear to help me and I have had to move house just before Christmas, so you can imagine what a state everything is in, and you will see why I have a new address, and why I can only write one letter between you both. It all happened like this: one very windy day last November my hood blew off and went and stuck on the top of the North Pole. I told him not to, but the N. P. Bear climbed up to the thin top to get it down – and he did. The pole broke in the middle and fell on the roof of my house, and the N. P. Bear fell through the hole it made into the dining room with my hood over his nose, and all the snow fell off the roof into the house and melted and put out all the fires and ran down into the cellars where I was collecting this year’s presents, and the N. P. Bear’s leg got broken. He is well again now, but I was so cross with him that he says he won’t try to help me again. I expect his temper is hurt, and will be mended by next Christmas. I send you a picture of the accident, and of my new house on the cliffs above the N.P. (with beautiful cellars in the cliffs). If John can’t read my old shaky writing (1925 years old) he must get his father to. When is Michael going to learn to read, and write his own letters to me? Lots of love to you both and Christopher, whose name is rather like mine.
That’s all. Goodbye.
J.R.R. (John Ronald Reuel) Tolkien (1892-1973)
English writer, poet, philologist and university professor.
Author of “The Hobbit,” “The Lord of the Rings,” and “The Silmarillion.”
Father of modern fantasy literature.
Appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.
University professor from 1920 to 1959, first at Leeds, then at Oxford.