Our Own Dear John Ronald: Tuor

Tuor happens to be my favorite among Tolkien’s characters. He was born in the wake of battle, both in Middle-Earth and in France.

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Rían, wife of Huor, dwelt with the people of the house of Hador; but when rumor came to Dor-Lómin of the Nirnaeth Arnoediad [the Battle of Unnumbered Tears], and yet she could hear no news of her lord, she became distraught and wandered forth into the wild alone.  There she would have perished but the Grey-elves came to her aid.  For there was a dwelling of this people in the mountains westward of Lake Mithrim; and thither they led her, and she was there delivered of a son before the end of the Year of Lamentation.

And Rían said to the Elves: ‘Let him be called TUOR, for that name his father chose, ere war came between us.  And I beg of you to foster him, and keep him hidden in your care; for I forebode that great good, for Elves and Men, shall come from him.  But I must go in search for Huor, my Lord.’

Tuor and Ulmo
Alan Lee: The Meeting of Tuor and Ulmo. “In this manner the Dweller of the Deep, whom the Noldor name Ulmo, Lord of Waters, showed himself to Tuor son of Huor of the House of Hador beneath Vinyamar.”

My father said more than once that ‘The Fall of Gondolin’ was the first of the tales of the First Age to be composed, and there is no evidence to set against his recollection.  In a letter of 1964 he declared that he wrote it ‘ “out of my head” during sick-leave from the army in 1917’ (…).  In a letter written to me in 1944 he said: ‘I first began to write [THE SILMARILLION] in army huts, crowded, filled with the noise of gramophones’; and indeed some lines of verse in which appear the Seven Names of Gondolin are scribbled on the back of a piece of paper setting out ‘the chain of responsibility in a battalion’.  The earliest manuscript is still in existence, filling two small school exercise books; it was rapidly written in pencil (…).  In the spring of 1920 he was invited to read a paper to the Essay Club of his college (Exeter) ; and he read ‘The Fall of Gondolin’.  (…) By way of introduction (…) he apologized for not having been able to produce a critical paper, and went on: ‘Therefore I have fallen back on this Tale.  It has of course never seen the light before….  A complete cycle of events in an Elfinesse of my own imagining has for some time past grown up (rather, has been constructed) in my mind.  Some of the episodes have been scribbled down….”

Ulmo Appears before Tuor, by Ted Nasmith
Ted Nasmith’s version of the meeting of Ulmo and Tuor.

And Tuor grew up among them [the Grey-elves]; and he was fair of face, and golden-haired after the manner of his father’s kin, and he became strong and tall and valiant, and being fostered by the Elves he had lore and skill no less than the princes of the Edain, ere ruin came upon the North.

All quotes taken from: J.R.R. Tolkien: Unfinished Tales. Edited by Christopher Tolkien. 2006.  The featured image is cropped; the original was painted by Ted Nasmith.

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