“Letters from Father Christmas” by J.R.R. Tolkien: A Comprehensive Review

Jolly Father Christmas, writing letters at his desk in his workshop surrounded by toys and elves.

“Letters from Father Christmas” by J.R.R. Tolkien: A Comprehensive Review

Letters from father christmas book cover“Letters from Father Christmas,” originally titled “The Father Christmas Letters,” is a cherished collection of letters penned by the renowned author J.R.R. Tolkien. Written and illustrated between 1920 and 1943 for his children, these letters from Father Christmas were posthumously published on September 2, 1976. Suitable for readers of all ages, this book is a classic example of children’s literature and fantasy, capturing the imaginative world of Tolkien in a unique, epistolary format.

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Plot Summary The book comprises a series of letters, primarily from Father Christmas or his elvish secretary, revealing the adventures and mishaps at the North Pole. Central characters include Father Christmas, the North Polar Bear, and his cubs, Paksu and Valkotukka. The stories are rich with vivid descriptions, including the creation of northern lights by massive fireworks and Polar Bear’s amusing troubles. Intriguingly, the 1939 letter references the Second World War, and later letters depict Father Christmas’ confrontations with Goblins, reflecting Tolkien’s perspectives on contemporary events【14†source】.

Themes The primary themes in “Letters from Father Christmas” revolve around the magic of Christmas, the power of imagination, and the importance of hope and resilience. Tolkien’s letters explore the wonder of the festive season through enchanting narratives, offering a glimpse into a fantastical world that parallels our own.







Jolly Father Christmas, writing letters at his desk in his workshop surrounded by toys and elves.Character Descriptions

  1. Father Christmas: A central figure, depicted as kind, adventurous, and occasionally overwhelmed by the antics of his companions.
  2. North Polar Bear: A key character known for his mischievous yet lovable nature, often finding himself in humorous predicaments.
  3. Paksu and Valkotukka: Polar Bear’s cubs, adding to the playful and adventurous spirit of the North Pole’s inhabitants.

Analysis The letters, composed over 20 years, showcase Tolkien’s remarkable creativity and his ability to weave intricate, engaging stories. Each letter, complete with North Pole stamps and marks designed by Tolkien, reflects his attention to detail and artistic talent. The 1999 republication added several letters and drawings not in the original edition, enhancing the book’s charm.

Critics have praised the book for its imaginative joy, comparing it favorably with “The Lord of the Rings.” The creatures and characters in the letters are thought to be precursors to those in Tolkien’s later works, suggesting a developmental thread in his creative process

Overall “Letters from Father Christmas” is a delightful read for children and adults alike. Its enduring appeal lies in its whimsical storytelling, imaginative illustrations, and the warmth of the holiday spirit it encapsulates. Its connection to Tolkien’s broader work makes it a significant piece for fans of his literature.


“Letters From Father Christmas” by J.R.R. Tolkien is a magical treasure trove that transforms the holiday season into an enchanting journey, perfect for children and families. Here’s why this book is a must-read:

  • Spark Imagination: Dive into a world where every letter brings a new adventure. Tolkien’s creativity ignites the imagination, making each reading a unique experience.
  • Timeless Tradition: Create your own family tradition with these annual letters from Father Christmas. It’s a wonderful way to bring the family together and instill a love for reading and storytelling in children.
  • Enchanting Illustrations: The book is filled with Tolkien’s own whimsical drawings, bringing the stories to life and captivating readers of all ages.
  • Educational Yet Fun: Tolkien’s rich language and inventive tales are not just entertaining; they’re a delightful way to enhance vocabulary and reading skills.
  • Escape into Magic: In a world of screens and digital distractions, this book is a gateway to a simpler, more magical world, encouraging children to explore their creativity and imagination.
  • Bonding Over a Book: Reading these letters together can become a cherished family activity, creating memories that last a lifetime.

This holiday season, gift the magic of Tolkien’s world to your family with “Letters From Father Christmas” – a book that’s more than just a read; it’s an experience to be shared and treasured!


Book Details

  • Author: J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Illustrator: J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Original Title: The Father Christmas Letters
  • Genre: Fantasy, Children’s Literature
  • Publisher: Allen and Unwin (1976), Houghton Mifflin (1976), HarperCollins (2004)
  • Publication Date: 1976, reprinted in 2004
  • ISBN: 0-395-24981-3 (1976), 0-261-10386-5 (2004)

Series Information “Letters from Father Christmas” is a standalone collection and not part of a series. However, its themes and style connect it to the broader world of Tolkien’s works.

About the Author J.R.R. Tolkien, best known for “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit,” is celebrated for his contributions to fantasy literature. His ability to create intricate worlds filled with rich mythology and languages has left a lasting impact on the genre.

Conclusion “Letters from Father Christmas” stands as a testament to Tolkien’s imaginative prowess and his ability to enchant readers of all ages. It is a heartwarming addition to any holiday reading list and a must-read for fans of Tolkien’s work.

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