We love all things Tolkien here in The Land of Shadow.com and this rare Tolkien recording ‘The Tobacconist’ from the 1930’s is no exception!
Issued as part of the Linguaphone series ‘English Conversation’
Jay Johnstone of the Sci fi Fantasy Network shares this video unboxing of a British Linguaphone series ‘English Conversation‘, which features a recording of J.R.R. Tolkien from July 1929!
The Linguaphone based in the UK has been teaching the English language since 1901 using the Linguaphone Method. Professor Tolkien participated in this program in the late 1920’s with this recording about a ‘Tobacconist’ (What we call a ‘Tobacco Shop’ here in the U.S.)
This amusing recording starts with Tolkien talking about his love of Tobacco shops and is followed by a sort skit between Tolkien and his colleague at the University A. Lloyd James, They act out an interchange at a shop, with Tolkien playing ‘The Tobacconist’ and James the customer.
Marcel Aubron-Bülles from the The Tolkienist had this to say in a recent posting.
Calling this particular piece “rare” is not quite true anymore, at least not digitally. The British Library has made this lovely piece available on their website. There you will find out that two professors, J.R.R. Tolkien and A. Lloyd James, did a recording, for the Linguaphone Conversational Course in English, providing a very entertaining talk of a customer visiting the local tobacconist – after a short introduction fully read by Tolkien. At that time Lloyd James was still only lecturer with the University as an M.A.; he became professor for phonetics later on. However, he had written “Broadcast English” for the BBC, published in 1926, and Tolkien would surely have felt quite comfortable working with Lloyd James who had asked (and answered) the question: “Is there a Standard Dialect in English?”
According to the British Library, the recording was made in July 1929; with the Reader’s GuideScull and Hammond note:
The earliest recording of Tolkien’s voice, as far as is known to us, was made by June 1930 for the Linguaphone Conversational Course in English, issued by the Linguaphone Institute of London as a set of 78 rpm records. Tolkien read the introduction to, and played one of two roles in, Lesson 20, ‘At the Tobacconist’s’, and again was one of two readers for Lesson 30, ‘Wireless’.
Go HERE to listen to Professor Tolkien’s actual voice from the 1920’s in this recording at the British Library.