Clyde S. Kilby: Tolkien’s First Scribe

Published 1976.  Describing Kilby's summer with Tolkien, 1966.

Published 1976. Describing Kilby’s summer with Tolkien, 1966.

Over at, I have a piece of piety–a remembrance of Clyde S. Kilby, the great man who first realized the intellectual profundity of Tolkien’s work in the U.S.

Last night, I had the chance to reread Kilby’s short 1976 book, Tolkien and The Silmarillion. This was probably my sixth or seventh time to read it, and, as it always has, it hit me with a sense of awe and wonder. I first read it in the late summer of 1988, preparing for my first ever academic writing on Tolkien. I was twenty, a junior at Notre Dame, and just beginning one of the best classes I ever took, “Science Fiction and Philosophy.” It was taught by a rather famous Platonist, who just also happened to love Lewis and Tolkien. Though I read anything and everything like a fiend as a young boy and young man (and still do), literary criticism was foreign to me in 1988. From an autobiographical standpoint, Kilby’s book hit me, in part, because it was my first encounter with any form of real criticism. But, it also hit me, because I realized that Kilby truly understood Tolkien. He knew him. And, when he didn’t understand some aspect of Tolkien, he admitted it. I loved Kilby for these qualities: his humility, his honesty, and his enthusiasm.

To read the entire article, please go here:

To visit the Wade Center, founded by Kilby and now celebrating its 50th anniversary, go here:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: