TSR When TSR Passed On Tolkien

Benjamin Riggs recently revealed this tidbit of TSR history -- Lorraine Williams passing on the rights to Tolkien's works in 1992!


"So, in 1992, TSR almost acquired the rights to JRR Tolkien's work. John Rateliff was sent to London to negotiate the deal, missing Gen Con. (Apparently, no TSR employees were allowed to miss Gen Con, but he was for this...) He met Christopher Tolkien at the Harper-Collins offices, where he asked for the rights to make RPGs, merch, and new books set in Middle-Earth. Chris Tolkien said yes to the RPGs, and some merch, but no to the fiction line.

Back in Lake Geneva, Rateliff communicated this to TSR CEO Lorraine Williams. Rateliff said, "Her immortal words were, ‘Not worth our while.’”

She then passed on the whole deal."

Rateliff wrote the book The History of the Hobbit: The Hobbit / Mr. Baggins / Return to Bag-end.

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Sounds like Williams made the right decision. No LOTR RPG has sold crazy well, and a D&D-related one would likely just have fragmented D&D's market. And making a 2E AD&D setting book would likely have ended in tears, and probably with TSR losing the licence at the next renewal.

If they'd offered novels that would have been insane to pass on, but they didn't.

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