The Educational Value of Esperanto: The word of Tolkien in The British Esperantist (24.08.14 by Pieter Collier) - Comments

Oronzo Cilli is an Italian scholar and the author of the only Italian bibliography of the works of the author of The Lord of the Rings, “J.R.R. Tolkien. La bibliografia italiana dal 1967 ad oggi”. He has published its latest research in the article “The Educational Value of Esperanto: The word of Tolkien in "The British Esperantist" 1933”.

It is a careful study of British and international Esperanto magazines of the first half of the twentieth century, containing still unpublished interesting details that reveal tolkien's active role to promote Esperanto in the thirties.
The Educational Value of Esperanto: The word of Tolkien in The British Esperantist

Cilli writes, in the opening statement of his article:

"The best known connection between Tolkien and Esperanto has been extracts from a letter by Tolkien published in May 1932 in the journal "The British Esperantist". In fact, the wonderful monthly publication of the British Esperantist Association holds at least two other pieces of information that can be useful in reconstructing the relationship between the future author of The Hobbit and of The Lord of the Rings and the artificial language invented by Ludwik Lejzer Zamenhof. Here we present the results of a research conducted on the British magazine and which reveals two episodes in which J.R.R. Tolkien is directly involved: the XXIV British Esperanto Congress in April 1933, and the appeal “The Educational Value of Esperanto” signed by twenty British personalities in May of the same year (and among these…)".

Cilli’s research begins from the reference made by Tolkien in A Secret Vice "Some of you may have heard that there was, a year or more ago, a Congress in Oxford, an Esperanto Congress; or you may not have heard". Cilli writes about the “XXII Universal Esperanto Congress” held in Oxford, 1930, and reports the extract of a letter that Tolkien wrote to the Secretary of the British Tolkien Esperantist Association Education Committee, published in "The British Esperantist" in May 1932. A note known by all the scholars as “A Philologist on Esperanto”.

Cilli discovers two other unpublished references on the presence of Tolkien among the Patrons of the XXIV British Esperanto Congress, held in Oxford in April 1933. They consist primarily in an appeal, which appeared in "The British Esperantist" in May of the same year, entitled “The Educational Value of Esperanto” signed by twenty British people of that period, among which the same J.R.R. TOLKIEN, M.A., Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo - Saxon, University of Oxford.
The Educational Value of Esperanto signed by twenty British people of that period, among which the same J.R.R. TOLKIEN J.R.R. TOLKIEN signed The Educational Value of Esperanto

The most important work of research on this topic has been published by Arden R. Smith and Patrick H. Wynne, titled “Tolkien and Esperanto” (SEVEN: An Anglo-American Literary Review, Vol. 17, 2000). However, this essay lacks of the two new references written by Cilli which can be considered as a continuation for the extensive work of Smith and Wynne. Several appreciations come from the Tolkienian world and from international Esperanto. The same Arden R. Smith writes, in a message posted on the website of Cilli: "Cilli's research has uncovered long-lost information about tolkien's connection to the Esperanto movement, and his article on the subject will be of interest to Tolkienists and Esperantists. I am both". Congratulations and appreciations come also from the Italian Tolkien Society represented by its Chairman Domenico Dimichino. Meanwhile, the Esperanto Association of Britain retweetted Cilli’s article on his own twitter profile and they want to quote it having the intention of mentioning it in the July issue of their magazine The Brita Esperantisto ("The British Esperantist"), Italian Esperantists write, at the hands of Renato Corsetti, Vice President of the Italian Esperanto Federation, “Congratulations and thanks on behalf of the Italian Esperanto”. Finally, Tim Owen, Secretary of the Esperanto Association of Britain, writes:

"Thank you for this fascinating article. I was aware that Tolkien had shown an interest in Esperanto when he was young but had no idea that his involvement went as far as endorsing its presence in schools. On this basis I'm sure he would've been pleased to know that several primary schools in England did introduce Esperanto as a way of helping children develop the skills to learn further languages. Thank you once again for your hard work putting together this article, which I thoroughly enjoyed. If your readers are interested in Esperanto and wish to try it for themselves, they might consider visiting the online course".

To date, is provided a Spanish translation that will be released in the journal of the Sociedad Tolkien Española and a translation into esperanto for the Italian magazine "L’Esperanto".

You can read the aforementioned article at

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