Smith of Wootten Major


  • Media: #Books #Books 2020
    • Author: [[!JRR Tolkien]]
    • Status: read
    • Date: 2020-08-03
    • Tags: #fantasy #fairytale #shortstory
    • Rating: ★★★☆☆
    • Idea richness: ★★★☆☆
    • Links: Goodreads, Highlights


After swallowing a faerie star as a child, a smith's life intersects with the realm of Faerie. He ventures further and further into their realm, seeing strange shores and eventually discovering the Master Cook's apprentice who saw him get the star in the first place is truly the Faerie King. The Smith reluctantly learns to surrender the star to the next generation, and respect for the Faerie begins to grow in the village again.


In the introduction, it is suggested that "Smith of Wootton Major invites its readers to experience what the fairy-story essay (On Fairy Stories) explains." This is the perfect description. It is a sweet tale. A short tale. And really not much of a tale in terms of things happening.

It is a short wander through a sense of magic and how it can touch lives throughout the years but ultimately cannot be taken with you. Not Tolkien's best but worth a read (which takes no time at all), especially in conjunction with his essay On Fairy Stories.

As an aside, Tolkien's unfinished introduction for George MacDonald (R-Unfinished fairy tale introduction) that morphed into Smith of Wootton Major is an excellent read and included in this edition. I enjoyed it more than the story itself.


  • "Tolkien himself called it “an old man’s book, already weighted with the presage of bereavement”, and taking their cue from him, many have read Smith’s surrender of the star as Tolkien’s farewell to his art."
  • “To seek for the meaning is to cut open the ball in search of its bounce.”

The unfinished introduction

Scrapbook Concepts

  • Village run by Master Cook with kitchen owned by Village Council #locations
  • Twenty-four Feast, held once every twenty-four years. Only twenty-four children were invited.
  • The boy who swallowed a fey star. Becomes stuck in middle of forehead. #characters
  • there the star stayed in the middle of his forehead, and he wore it for many years.
  • Singing blacksmith with entrancing voice #characters
  • " the bright waters in which at night strange stars shone and at dawn the gleaming peaks of far mountains were mirrored."
  • "the Sea of Windless Storm where the blue waves like snow-clad hills roll silently out of Unlight to the long strand, bearing the white ships that return from battles on the Dark Marches of which men know nothing." #locations
  • Tree, stripped of every leaf, crying. Tears falling from branches #creatures
  • The flower did not wither nor grow dim; and they kept it as a secret and a treasure. The smith made a little casket with a key for it, and there it lay and was handed down for many generations in his kin; and those who inherited the key would at times open the casket and look long at the Living Flower, till the casket closed again: the time of its shutting was not theirs to choose.
  • "the sea of shadows cast by things that could not themselves be seen." - From George MacDonald Golden Key