Tolkien's legendarium

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"Legendarium" redirects here. For other uses, see Legendary (disambiguation).
This article is about the Tolkien legendarium in general. For the book by Verlyn Flieger and Carl Hostetter, see Tolkien's Legendarium.

Tolkien's legendarium is a fictional universe in J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, based on Tolkien's real-world knowledge of Anglo-Saxon beliefs. Colloquially, it may refer to any or all of Tolkien's Middle-earth writing considered as a whole, thus including works such as The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. Specific to the literary discipline of Tolkien studies, it is the part of Tolkien's high fantasy fiction concerned with his Elven legends;[citation needed] that is, fictional historic events that have become legendary from the perspective of the characters within The Lord of the Rings.

Origin of the term legendarium[edit]

The term legendarium refers to a literary collection of legends. This obscure medieval Latin noun originally referred mainly to texts detailing legends of the lives of saints. A surviving example is the Anjou Legendarium, dating from the 14th century.[1] Quotations in the Oxford English Dictionary for the synonymous noun legendary date from 1513. The Middle English South English Legendary is an example of this form of the noun.

In modern times, legendary is normally used as an adjective instead of a noun. The legendarium form is still found in several European languages, and was in occasional use in the English language when J. R. R. Tolkien used it to refer to some of his fictional writings about Middle-earth.[2]

Tolkien's use of the term legendarium[edit]

Tolkien used the term legendarium with reference to his works in a total of four letters he wrote between 1951 and 1955, a period in which he was attempting to have his unfinished Silmarillion published alongside the more complete The Lord of the Rings:

Use of the phrase Tolkien's legendarium[edit]

"Tolkien's legendarium" is defined in the analytical work The History of the Hobbit by John D. Rateliff, as the body of Tolkien's work consisting of:

All of which comprise the different "phases" of Tolkien's Elven legendary writings, posthumously edited and published in The Silmarillion and in their original forms in the series The History of Middle-earth.[7]

While other Tolkien scholars have not seen fit to define their use of the term, it is used in the following contexts:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Anjou Legendarium". 
  2. ^ The Ring of Words pp 153–154
  3. ^ Letters, #131
  4. ^ Letters, #153
  5. ^ Letters, #154
  6. ^ Letters, #163
  7. ^ Rateliff, John D. The History of the Hobbit, p.607
  8. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia, entry "The History of Middle-earth".
  9. ^ Flieger, Verlyn Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien's World p. 107
  10. ^ Dickerson, Matthew T. and Evans, Jonathan Duane: Ents, Elves, and Eriador: The Environmental Vision of J. R. R. Tolkien p. 277

Works cited[edit]