We’re Obsessed With This 1968 Interview Of J.R.R. Tolkien Writing In Elvish

You’ve got to see this 1968 BBC interview of author J.R.R. Tolkien talking about his invented languages and writing in Elvish!

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J.R.R. Tolkien

The Rings of Power may be over for now, but that doesn’t mean our love for all things J.R.R. Tolkien and Middle-Earth has subsided. If anything, The Rings of Power has renewed our love for all things Middle-Earth. Recently a 1968 BBC interview with Tolkien, in which he talks about his invented languages, began making its rounds on the Internet. We love it, to say the least, and had to share it with you all.


Originally broadcast in March of 1968, this interview sees Tolkien talk about his bestselling series, The Lord of the Rings, and his fondness for invented languages.

As you may know, Tolkien not only invented the vast world of Middle-Earth (and its histories), but he also created dozens of languages for the beings inhabiting it. This includes 15 different dialects for Elvish, and languages for Ents, Hobbits, and more. In real life, Tolkien was fond of linguistics, having learned over 35 languages ranging from Old Icelandic to Spanish.

In this interview from BBC Archives, Tolkien talks of his love for linguistics and how he loves learning about new languages.

“Languages have a flavor to me which are, I never understand people who are saying [new languages] are awfully dry and dull because a new language to me is just like trying a new wine, or sweet beer or something,”

J.R.R. Tolkien
J.R.R. Tolkien writing in Elvish for a 1968 BBC interview, BBC Archives

He goes on to demonstrate writing in one of his invented languages, Elvish, penning a common greeting among Elves, “A star shines upon our meeting.”

At one point, he messes up a bit while writing, wholesomely muttering, “Oh God, I’ve made a mistake,” after claiming his writing is “very inferior to the Elves.” That statement alone demonstrates his level of dedication and commitment to creating a such fully-fleshed fictional world.

Speaking as a fan, the clip is truly incredible (and fascinating) to watch. Tolkien writes in Elvish with such ease— it’s no wonder those languages sprang wholly from his mind.

When talking about the popularity of his invented languages featured in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogy, Tolkien admitted he doesn’t mind others enjoying the languages and knowing them. Though, he certainly doesn’t want people making “cults” and speaking it all the time.

Tolkien talking about the inevitability of death and The Lord of the Rings in a 1968 interview with BBC, BBC Archives

“I don’t have the desire to go and have afternoons talking Elvish to chaps,” Tolkien laughs. “For one thing, Elvish is too complicated, I’ve never finished making it!”

The seven-minute interview covers more than just Tolkien’s love of languages. We highly recommend you watch the full video to see Tolkien talk about allegories, creating “human stories,” and the inevitability of death.

For more Middle-Earth content, make sure to check out our coverage of The Rings of Power and all other things Tolkien and Lord of the Rings-related!