When in 1937 J. R. R. Tolkien laid aside The Silmarillion, the extension of his original mythology into later Ages of the world had scarcely emerged. Tolkien himself noted that he knew nothing of the peoples and history of these Ages until he "met them on the way".
It was in the appendices to The Lord of the Rings that there emerged a comprehensive historical structure and chronology of the Second and Third Ages, embracing all the diverse strands that came together in The War of the Ring. Tolkien's difficulty - bordering on despair - in providing these appendices, leading to delay in the publication of The Return of the King, is well known. In The Peoples of Middle-earth, however, Christopher Tolkien shows that the work had in fact been achieved years before, in essays and records differing greatly from the published forms.
A number of other writings by J. R. R. Tolkien are also included in this book; they derive chiefly from his last years, when new insights and constructions freely arose as he pondered the history that he had created.
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