Stories For Children

The Forge of Tolkien Episode 5: Stories For Children

Critics from Edmund Wilson (The Nation, 1956)  to Andrew Rissik (The Guardian, 2000) and Richard Eyre (The Guardian, 2004) have described The Lord of the Rings as “essentially a children’s book,” a monument to kitsch and Tolkien’s inability to face the real issues that concern adults in the modern world. 

In this episode, Professor Rachel Fulton Brown contrasts the critics’ insistence that Tolkien was writing for children—or childlike readers—with Tolkien’s own insistence that he was writing for adults, not children at all. What was at stake for Tolkien in writing fairy stories “for children”—and did it have any effect on his “heartfelt loathing” for Disney?