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In J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, Urwen, better known by her nickname Lalaith ("Laughter"), was the second child of Húrin Thalion and Morwen Edhelwen and the sister of Túrin Turambar. She was born in spring of the Year of the Sun 466 of the First Age.

Tolkien character
Book(s)The Silmarillion,
Unfinished Tales,
The Children of Húrin

Internal historyEdit

Lalaith was a happy child, and was compared to an Elven child by most people. Túrin loved his little sister, but "he played with her seldom, and liked better to guard her unseen and watch her going upon grass or under tree, as she sang such songs as the children of the Edain made long ago".[1]

But in the autumn of the year when Urwen was three, a pestilent wind, called the 'Evil Breath', came to Hithlum from Angband, and both Túrin and Lalaith were taken sick. Túrin recovered from the plague, but his sister died. Thereafter "laughter was stilled" in Húrin's house, and Urwen's name Lalaith was not used. Túrin never got over her death and always looked for her likeness in women ever after, which is one possible reason for the tragedy which befell him when he took Níniel, who unknown to all was his second sister, as a wife later.

Character developmentEdit

It has been observed that Tolkien modelled the events around his tragic hero Túrin after Kullervo from the Finnish Kalevala epos. Túrin's affection for Lalaith and later for Níniel can be compared to Kullervo's relation to his twin sister Wanona.[2]

Other versions of the legendariumEdit

Urwen only entered the story of the Narn i Chîn Húrin in a late stage of composition, after the publication of The Lord of the Rings in 1954–5. However, her name Lalaith is possibly not the last though of J. R. R. Tolkien, as he apparently changed the spelling to Lalaeth, which appears in genealogical tables done in ca. 1959 (around the same time as the writing of the initial parts of the Narn).[3] However, Christopher Tolkien makes no comments on this, and in the index to The War of the Jewels her name is spelt Lalaeth. In unconnected remarks of Christopher Tolkien,[4] he uses the form Lalaeth despite the spelling Lalaith in published Unfinished Tales that he explicitly references to.

Descent of Urwen LalaithEdit


  1. ^ a b Tolkien, J. R. R. (1980), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Narn i Hîn Húrin, The Childhood of Túrin, ISBN 0-395-29917-9
  2. ^ Hammond, Wayne G.; Scull, Christina (2006). The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide. Houghton Mifflin. p. 445. ISBN 9780618391028.
  3. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1994), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The War of the Jewels, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, New genealogies of the Edain, pp. 229-238, ISBN 0-395-71041-3
  4. ^ The War of the Jewels, p. 314.
  5. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. (1977), Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Silmarillion, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, ISBN 0-395-25730-1

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