Songs for the Philologists: A Unique and Rare tolkien-Related Book
Songs for the Philologists is perhaps the most elusive and difficult-to-find tolkien-related book in existence. While at Leeds, J.R.R. Tolkien and E.V. Gordon founded a 'Viking Club' for undergraduates, which focused on reading Old Norse sagas and drinking beer. For this club, Tolkien and Gordon wrote Songs for the Philologists, a set of duplicated typescripts containing a blend of traditional songs and original verses translated into Old English, Old Norse, and Gothic to fit traditional English tunes.
In 1935 or 1936, Dr. A.H. Smith of University College London, a former student at Leeds, gave a copy of one of the typescripts to a group of students to print at their private press as a printing exercise. It is believed that only a few copies were originally printed. Later, Smith realized he hadn't obtained permission from Tolkien or Gordon, so the completed booklets were never distributed. Most copies were destroyed in a fire at the college where the press and book copies were stored, but some copies survived, possibly retained by the students who printed them. The number of surviving copies is uncertain but is likely very small, perhaps as few as 14. This rare and unique book is a true collector's item for Tolkien enthusiasts.