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SPECIAL GUEST:
The Science of Middle-earth: Sex and the Single Orc
-- Olog-Hai

While at the Oxford Literary Festival on 12 April promoting my book The Science of Middle-Earth, I had the great pleasure of meeting Charles Noad, who assisted Christopher Tolkien in the production of The History of Middle-earth. He drew the assembled companies' attention to an unpublished letter by J. R. R. Tolkien in which he refers to the vexed question of orkish sex.

In The Science of Middle-earth I contrasted the reproduction of orcs with that of all other 'speaking peoples', noting that only in orcs is there no mention of females in any of Tolkien's work. From this I discussed several options, including the possibility that all orcs are female, and they reproduce clonally. The unpublished letter, though, makes Tolkien’s position clear.

The letter came up for sale at an auction at Sotheby's in London on 11 and 12 July, 2002. It is dated 21 October 1963, and is addressed to a Mrs Munby in response to a number of questions posed by her son Stephen about The Lord of the Rings. The letter is long, but in one place reads as follows:

'There must have been orc-women. But in stories that seldom if ever see the Orcs except as soldiers of armies in the service of the evil lords we naturally would not learn much about their lives. Not much was known'.

Tolkien also goes on to discuss the use of the word 'goblin':

'In The Hobbit 'goblin' is used... but goblin is a fairly modern word, and very vague in its application to any sort of bogey in the dark.'


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Current Article(s)
02/06
The Science of Middle-earth: Something Wicked This Way Comes

Past Guests
The Science of Middle-earth: The Great Wave
The Science of Middle-earth: Sex and the Single Orc
The Science of Middle-earth: The Kine of Araw
A Postscript on the Nine Walkers
The Science of Middle-earth: Melanism and Middle-earth<
Hearing the horns of Rohan
The Eternal Conflict in Middle-earth: from Literature to Film
The Science of Middle-earth -- How High the Mallorn?
Lost in Translation? The Lord of the Rings in Russian
The Science of Middle-earth -- O, for the Wings of a Balrog
Myth, Judgement, and the Jackson Way: The Review of Reviews
The Science of Middle-earth -- The Laboratory of Fëanor
What Tolkien Saw: Part Two -- Truth, Glory and Applicability
What Tolkien Saw: Part One -- Entropy, Hubris, and Hope
The Science of Middle-earth -- Making Mithril
"There and Back Again" -- A Survivor's Story
The Science of Middle-earth -- Hawk-Flights of Imagination
Power in the Name
The Science of Middle-earth -- Keen are the Eyes of the Elves
The Science of Middle-earth -- An Ongoing Series
The Enemy is Moving...and He is Us
Q&A with Verlyn Flieger
Beowulf Lives! Or Why Would a Nice Professor Like Tolkien Tell Stories about Nasty Monsters
- Christopher Garbowski
The Tolkien Effect: using the work of J.R.R. Tolkien to inspire children to read
- Annie White Owl
How Much Was Rowling Inspired by Tolkien?
- Caroline Monroe
"On the Wings of a Revisionist"
- Murray B.
JRR Tolkien and World War I
- Nancy Marie Ott
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring Movie Review
- Rajesh Shah
Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring Movie Review
- Chris Peters
Spiritual Lessons in 'Lord of the Rings'
- Kevin Black
"The Lord of the Rings" — An Archetypal Hero’s Journey
- Jody G. Bower
Mythcon 32 and Meeting Philippa Boyens
- Thomas Kelley
Scrolls of Middle-earth
- Lute
Every Time A Bell Rings A Balrog Gets Its Wings?
- William Roper
That 70s Show: Tolkien Art Style
- Vastarion
Who is Tom Bombadil?
- Edoardo Albert
Where the Shadows Lie
- Kevin Roger Black
Macho Men & Warrior Princesses
- Kara Gardner
Growing Up
- …omer
Tolkien's Greatest Sleepers
- Turumarth
Arwen's Defense
- Lúthien
The Future of the Nine Walkers
- J.W. Braun
Special Guest Home

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