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Leaf by Niggle

Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: 28/07/2016
Pages: 64
ISBN: 978-0-00-820553-9

Published for the very first time in its own volume, Tolkien’s remarkable tale about a painter whose obsession with detail prevents him from finishing his great work.

Niggle is a painter. Not a very successful one, partly because he has so many other things to do. For some time he has been obsessed with one particular canvas – a curious picture of a tree with a vast landscape stretching out behind it. The painting keeps getting bigger and bigger, but Niggle has a journey to make.

In 1939 Tolkien was despairing of ever bringing his great work The Lord of the Rings to a conclusion. One morning he woke up with the story Leaf by Niggle complete in his mind and wrote it down. This poignant story, about an artist on a curious journey, is often seen as an allegory of the writer’s own creative process and life.

Published to coincide with a new touring stage production of the story, this is the first time the story has been published in its own volume, enabling readers to savour one of Tolkien’s most elegant, haunting and least-known short stories.

  • ‘As with all good short stories, this one expands in the imagination. Mighty oaks from tiny acorns grow, indeed.’ The Times
  • ‘Brings a wistful charm to complex issues of truth, beauty, duty and creative aspiration.’ The Herald
  • ‘A haunting and successful demonstration of the qualities of faerie’ New York Times