Smith of Wootton Major
by J. R. Tolkien, first published 1967
“There was a village once, not very long ago for those with long memories, not very far away for those with long legs. Wootton Major it was called because it was larger than Wootton Minor…”
It’s been a delight to find yet another children’s book by J. R. Tolkien, that were published well after his series that started with the Hobbit. This particular story is a real delight to read. A truly magical yet profound tale of the skeptic world and those who “do believe in fairies.” I’m amazed the story hasn’t gotten greater notoriety.
One of the lovely turns of events towards the end is when the main person who does not believe in fairies, (or as Tolkien intentionally writes, faery), has a miraculous change in his life and finds a rational reason for it, rather than attributing it to ‘magic.’ It reminds me of what we all do when the mystery of existence touches us, and rather than holding on to the mystery, we rationalize it. The age of reason and rational thinking alas overtakes mystery in the current world. This children’s book allows us to remember once more that it’s possible there is more to the world than we can see.
I read this story in a children’s book called Tales from the Perilous Realm, which is a collection of Tolkien’s novellas. It includes Farmer Giles from Ham, as well as Roverandom. The full collection of stories is well worth having.