The Lost Road and Other Writings

The Lost Road and Other Writings – Language and Legend before 'The Lord of the Rings' is the fifth volume of The History of Middle-earth, a series of compilations of drafts and essays written by J. R. R. Tolkien in around 1936–1937. It was edited and published posthumously in 1987 by Christopher Tolkien.[1]

The Lost Road and Other Writings – Language and Legend before 'The Lord of the Rings'
EditorChristopher Tolkien
AuthorJ. R. R. Tolkien
CountryUnited Kingdom
SeriesThe History of Middle-earth
SubjectTolkien's legendarium
GenreHigh fantasy
Literary analysis
PublisherGeorge Allen & Unwin (UK)
Publication date
Media typePrint (hardback and paperback)
Pages464 (paperback)
Preceded byThe Shaping of Middle-earth 
Followed byThe Return of the Shadow (The History of The Lord of the Rings Volume 1) 



The title page of each volume of The History of Middle-earth has an inscription in Tengwar, written by Christopher Tolkien and describing the contents of the book. The inscription in Volume V reads "Herein are collected the oldest Tale of the Downfall of Númenor, the story of the Lost Road into the West, the Annals of Valinor and the Annals of Beleriand in a later form, the Ainulindalë, or Music of the Ainur, the Lhammas, or Account of Tongues, the Quenta Silmarillion or History of the Silmarils, and the history of many words and names."


The Lost Road and Other Writings contains the following pieces:

  1. The Early History of the Legend — an introduction to the following two pieces, detailing how Tolkien's correspondence with C. S. Lewis led to the writing of The Lost Road.
  2. The Fall of Númenor — an early draft of what would become the Akallabêth.
  3. The Lost Road — an unfinished time-travel story written in late 1936 that connects Tolkien's other tales to the 20th century.
  4. The later Annals of Beleriand.
  5. The later Annals of Valinor.
  6. The Ainulindalë — an early version of the Ainulindalë (the Music of the Ainur).
  7. The Lhammas ("Account of Tongues") — an overview of the various languages of Middle-earth.
  8. Quenta Silmarillion — a draft of the Quenta Silmarillion.
  9. The Etymologies — an etymological dictionary of the Elvish tongues, contemporary with writings up to that time.
  10. Appendix
    1. The Genealogies
    2. The List of Names
    3. The Second Silmarillion Map


The Lost Road itself was the result of a joint decision by Tolkien and C. S. Lewis to make attempts at writing science fiction. Lewis ended up writing a story about space travel, which eventually became The Space Trilogy, and Tolkien tried to write something about time travel, but never completed it. The Lost Road is a fragmentary beginning of a tale, with a rough outline and several pieces of narrative, including four chapters dealing with modern England and Númenor, from which the entire story may be glimpsed. The scheme was for time travel by means of "vision" or being mentally inserted into what had been so as to experience that which had happened. In this way the tale links the 20th century first to the Saxon England of Alfred the Great, then to the Lombard king Alboin of St Benedict's time, the Baltic Sea during the Viking Age, Ireland at the time of the Tuatha Dé Danann's coming (600 years after Noah's Flood), the prehistoric North in the Ice Age, a "Galdor story" of Middle-earth in the Third Age, and finally the Fall of Gil-galad, before recounting the prime legend of the Downfall of Númenor and the Bending of the World. The novel explores the theme of the "Straight Road" into the West, now open only in memory because the world has become round. Tolkien reworked and expanded some of the ideas in The Lost Road in The Notion Club Papers, which was also left unfinished.[2]


External linksEdit