A controversial speculative reading of J.R.R. Tolkien’s early years with his mother Mabel and brother Hilary. Applying our current understanding of childhood trauma and its later effects, definitions of abuse, and knowledge of the history of childrearing to a close reading of underused material from Hilary’s memoirs and Ronald’s artwork, among other documents, Bunting proposes a far less rosy picture of Tolkien’s early childhood than usually seen. However, statements from Tolkien’s official biographer, Humphrey Carpenter, hint at a great deal of suppressed material; it’s possible this interpretation may turn out to be closer to the truth than one might expect as more material becomes available.

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