Tolkien family steps up war of the rings

By James Morrison
Sunday 09 December 2001 01:00

The feud between the heirs to J R R Tolkien's estate intensified last night, after the grandson of the Lord of the Rings author hit back at his father's denial of a rift.

Simon Tolkien reiterated his claim that he had been cut off from family affairs for daring to support the film version of the book after his father, Christopher,dismissed the suggestion. Describing the "absolute power" wielded by Christopher over the estate, Simon said he was in "no doubt" he had been disowned for embracing the project.

And he added: "I believe that my father's ... determination to exclude me from involvement in my grandfather's literary legacy cannot be morally justified."

The Independent on Sunday revealed last week how Simon, 42, a barrister from west London, was banned from the board set up to safeguard his grandfather's estate three years ago. Since then, Christopher, 77, who lives in France, has refused to see or speak to him, communicating by letter or via a solicitor.

Two days ago Christopher issued a short statement in which he appeared to contradict parts of this account.

While confirming that he had always believed the Lord of the Rings was a "peculiarly unsuitable" subject for a film, he said: "The suggestions that have been made that I 'disapprove' of the films, to the extent of thinking ill of those with whom I may differ, are wholly without foundation."

However, last night, as preparations were being finalised for the star-studded London premiere of the first cinematic instalment of the £210m trilogy, Simon repeated and reinforced his allegations. "I advocated in 1999 that my family should explore becoming involved in the making of the Lord of the Rings films, as they would be bringing many more readers to the books," he said.

"However, my father was adamant that we should have no involvement.

"I have no doubt that my proposal for participation in the new films did indeed cause my father to think ill of me." Mr Tolkien added that other "equally serious", disputes had emerged between them since. He declined to specify further, but it is understood they relate to outstanding differences over the division of the estate.

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