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Tolkien and the Cats of Queen Berúthiel

In 1955, poet W. H. Auden was asked by the BBC to talk about The Lord of the Rings. Auden asked Tolkien for some background information about how the story had come into being, and Tolkien replied that he had had very few conscious intentions when writing the book. For example, he said that Ents were not deliberately invented at all, and though he liked Ents now it was largely because they seemed to have nothing to do with him.

He then mentioned something which was important then and is perhaps even more important now in trying to understand more deeply the whole sub-created world of Middle-earth: he wrote that he had had the feeling while writing that he was not inventing but reporting, and at times had to wait until he could find out ‘what really happened’. In the case of the Ents, the name came from the Old English eald enta geweorc, while as an idea they had something to do with Tolkien’s disappointment with Shakespeare’s Great Birnam Wood in Macbeth; Tolkien really wanted and expected the trees to truly move in that tale. But the whole back story of the Ents came as a direct result of the way in which Tolkien’s mind worked.