J.R.R. Tolkien.

J.R.R. Tolkien.Frazio Dalla Casa / CC

While you might know J. R. R. Tolkien as being the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, this academic was also a doting father who penned "The Father Christmas Letters" for his children. 

Originally from South Africa, J. R. R. Tolkien, an Oxford University professor of Anglo-Saxon and author of the world-famous fantasy novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, was also a devoted father of four children. In 1920, Tolkien who had just returned from fighting in World War I began a Christmas family tradition that would continue for 23 years and culminate in the book The Father Christmas Letters, published by his children, posthumously. 

The Father Christmas Letters are a collection of letters written and illustrated by Tolkien, released in 1976, the 3rd anniversary of Tolkien’s death. The book was warmly received by critics, and it has been suggested that elements of the stories inspired parts of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings.

The stories are told in the format of a series of letters, told either from the point of view of Father Christmas or his elvish secretary. They document the adventures and misadventures of Father Christmas and his helpers, including the North Polar Bear and his two sidekick cubs, Paksu and Valkotukka. 

Here is a sample of the delightful letters from 1925, thanks to Letters of Note:

Cliff House

Top of the World

Near the North Pole

Xmas 1925

My dear boys,

I am dreadfully busy this year — it makes my hand more shaky than ever when I think of it — and not very rich. In fact, awful things have been happening, and some of the presents have got spoilt and I haven’t got the North Polar Bear to help me and I have had to move house just before Christmas, so you can imagine what a state everything is in, and you will see why I have a new address, and why I can only write one letter between you both. It all happened like this: one very windy day last November my hood blew off and went and stuck on the top of the North Pole. I told him not to, but the N.P.Bear climbed up to the thin top to get it down — and he did. The pole broke in the middle and fell on the roof of my house, and the N.P.Bear fell through the hole it made into the dining room with my hood over his nose, and all the snow fell off the roof into the house and melted and put out all the fires and ran down into the cellars where I was collecting this year’s presents, and the N.P.Bear’s leg got broken. He is well again now, but I was so cross with him that he says he won’t try to help me again. I expect his temper is hurt, and will be mended by next Christmas. I send you a picture of the accident, and of my new house on the cliffs above the N.P. (with beautiful cellars in the cliffs). If John can’t read my old shaky writing (1925 years old) he must get his father to. When is Michael going to learn to read, and write his own letters to me? Lots of love to you both and Christopher, whose name is rather like mine.

That’s all. Goodbye.

Father Christmas.