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Smith of Wootton Major

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  3,357 ratings  ·  242 reviews
This collection includes two of Tolkien's best fairy stories. The world of Faery is the setting for Smith of Wootton Major. The preparation of Great Cake to mark the Feast of Good Children was a human, cheerful occasion, but other less material powers were at work and the world of man and of Faery met and blended in a strange, haunting union.

Leaf by Niggle is an apt and
Unknown Binding, Extended Edition, 149 pages
Published September 5th 2005 by HarperCollins (first published 1967)
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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  3,357 ratings  ·  242 reviews

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Sean Barrs the Bookdragon
This tale is magical and enchanting but for me it seemed incomplete. Well, a little unresolved. A young boy gets to enter the wonderful world of Fay; he is chosen especially for it, but when he gets there he doesn’t do a great deal. I mean, talk about a wasted opportunity! I would have done so much more over there.

Every twenty-four years Wootton Major has a massive celebration feast. As per tradition, a giant cake is baked. In it is placed a star by an anonymous trickster. The star allows the
Sep 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
I want to have kids just so I can read them stories like this. I wanted to eat the Twenty-Fourth Year Cake; I wanted to hear Smith Smithson sing while he smithied; and just when my eyes were bugging out of my head because of the beautiful descriptions of Faerie, I remembered it all started with a Master Baker. The story changed hands at least three times, but it was seamless. Each one of the hands could have been a story of Their Own.

I'd rate this a G. Read this to your chilluns! They need more
May 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, tolkien
A visit to Faery. Beware. It may touch your soul.

Unlike The Lord of the Rings, which Tolkien labored over for decades, Smith came to him in a flash, and he dashed it off whole. It has a rough quality which betrays both that inspiration and that lack of refining. Nonetheless, it should entertain and enrich any reader who appreciates "Farmer Giles of Ham" or "Leaf by Niggle".

An excellent companion for "On Fairy Stories" from The Tolkien Reader, since Smith of Wootton Major is just such a fairy
stabsasawarning 🗡️
This is a funny and lovely fairy tale-like piece of literature by the master ...more
Apr 24, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kiddlewinks
Bought with the same Christmas book voucher as The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Farmer Giles of Ham. It is an extremely shabby, battered and worn piece of bookage now.
Nov 18, 2011 rated it really liked it
Smith of Wootton Major is a fairytale, by Tolkien's own definition. The fairies are not small and precious, but real and potentially dangerous, and so is their land. It's a rather quiet story, I think -- there are no great dangers, no dragons to be fought or Dark Lords to be overthrown, though you might see echoes of that story here. The precious star was, in earlier drafts, a ring, after all.

In any case, it's a thoughtful little story. I almost said sweet, but I think that would be reducing it
Elizabeth LaPrelle
Aug 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This story is grouped in with "The Light Princess" by George MacDonald for me as one of the books that makes me feel exactly the way I want to feel about magic. This story has things that you want. This story has cake.
Sep 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
This was quite an enjoyable little story. I thought it was very interesting and I loved the premise of it and how it was executed. I throughly enjoyed it just as it was, a story. It was a great story and one that I am glad that I got to read.
Andrew Greatbatch
I really enjoyed this. I was in the library and I saw it and picked it up because it looked cute, and then I couldn't put it down and devoured it in one sitting. 4 stars.
Written in the twilight of Tolkien's remarkable legacy, Smith is a story seeped in knowing and a far calmer story compared to the Rings books. This is Tolkien 'winding down' yet imbued with all the wisdom and knowledge accrued over the decades. It is, as Tolkien himself states, a challenge to the sickly-sweet fairy stories that were doing the rounds in his time and presents them instead as mysterious and powerful creatures - the sweet and sickly cake which the children eat in the story verus the ...more
Marina Balinska
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a very cute short story. It's not my favourite one but It has the magic that only Tolkien can create.
Jan 01, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A cute little fairy tale about the Faerie and cakes, among other things. Perhaps this could’ve been even longer, as I was left wanting more explanations; perfect bedtime reading material nonetheless.
In the village of Wootton Major, The Feast of Good Children is held every twenty-four years. Twenty-four children are invited and the feast ends with an extraordinary Great Cake. During one of these celebrations, a very special ingredient is hidden in the cake. A young boy swallows it, only finding it months later when it makes itself known. It's a star, but not just any star, it's a star that grants him entry to the Land of Faery.

It's a short but lovely story written quite beautifully. It's
David Mosley
Jun 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Last Read
2014 (5 November)
2015 (29-30 December)
Dec 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is the last of Tolkien's fiction published during his lifetime. It is a story which explores the meaning of the word 'fairy' and contrasts the usual definition with 'Faery', the dangerous place in which fairy tales take place. The story originated as an introduction to a story by George MacDonald, but gained a life of its own.

The story itself is enjoyable enough albeit at times a little tedious, but it takes up less than half of this edition. The 150 or so remaining pages are padded out
Karl Orbell
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was Tolkien's last published novel, or novella perhaps, it is very short. It shows.

Now, when I say it shows, I do not mean that in a pejorative sense, no. This is a man who has tinkered with fantasy and words all his life, a genuine master wordsmith and this is written as a demonstration piece. It is a small, perfectly worked, cleverly tuned and polished example of a faery tale. Somehow, he managed to tell a tale that critiques and shines a probing light on the very genre it sits within,
Jonny Parshall
This is a beautiful story of magic, enchantment, perseverance, and with a dash of stubbornness and good humour. For fans of faery stories, this almost can read as a precursor to Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, of which both tales include amazingly overlapping features — literary and geographically (metageographically???). But I suppose most instances of that genre do.

This is Tolkien restless from Middle Earth and returning to his roots. While his Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, Silmarillion, and
Dec 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: all-timers
It was fun to re-experience this story in audiobook form. Derek Jacobi does a magnificent job in his reading performance.

I'd forgotten some of the similarities Smith of Wootton Major holds with LOTR. The process of giving up the star in order to bestow it on a new person reminded me a bit of Bilbo's giving up the ring (though love for the star is certainly a sweet and innocent love, unlike passion for the ring). The characters are simply drawn for the most part, and the whole tale feels rather
Farhana Sufi
Jan 15, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Got my hands on the Tolkien Treasury today. Beautiful stuff! The books contain original illustrations, Tolkien's essays, letter excerpts, thoughts - on the stories. Also hand corrected, hand-written manuscripts, and for this particular book - typed and hand corrected final versions.

SOWM is more a reflection on the world of Faery and Faery-tales. This, Tolkien's last work is a gentle flowy story, not too long, not too short. Not the engaging events of LOTR, nor the witty humour of The Hobbit,
Jul 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was the most enchanting book I've read in ages!!! And it wasn't just because it was by Tolkien (well - kinda...). It was beautifully written in Tolkien's prose and the story felt as old, and yet new, all at once.

I particularly loved how the (incredibly long) afterword made it clear that this book, just like Lord of the Rings, is not an allegory. It's simply a story of a man's adventures in faerie land. And that, I think, just makes it all the more special. It's just a tale meant to be
Jordan Tomeš
Mar 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A lovely short tale. If you are looking for a quick dose of Tolkien's magic and beauty, look no more.
Kay An P.
Aug 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy-classics
Beautiful tale, openly influenced by MacDonald's works
Such a lovely story that really shows Tolkien’s meaning when he talks about Faerie and fairytales. Maybe it is only for the geeks like me, but I thoroughly enjoyed this little book and all it had to offer.
Michael Arnold
Dec 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This is a really fun story, I cannot help but link it to Tolkien's creative process though. I think the story is an allegory for that.
Apr 05, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My 1000th book. how appropriate for it to be a Tolkien
Ea Solinas
Apr 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
While most of his genius went into the world of Middle-Earth and its fantastical history, JRR Tolkien produced a number of smaller stories during his life.

And though he disliked allegory, the enchanting "Smith of Wootton Major" is a bit of an oddity among his writings -- a beautifully fantastical little fable that drips over with Tolkien's love of real, deep fairy tales. And unlike many a story of elves or faeries since, Tolkien keeps that sense of mystery and magic in the world of the
Charlotte Jones
Apr 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
The story itself is only about 57 pages long in the edition I borrowed from the library so is a very quick read. It contains medieval style illustrations by Pauline Baynes. This is the first story by Tolkien that I have managed to read; I have tried to read the Lord of the Rings trilogy many times in the past, and have not been able to get into it, but this style seemed completely different to me.

There aren't that many characters in this short story, the main ones being Smith, Nokes and Alf. As
A great and profound little book. My first reading of it remains one of my most memorable reading experiences in fantasy, and literature generally: a deeply moving and poignant experience. It remains a very fine book in terms of the fantasy elements and its solemn, ruminative tone of melancholy mixed with wonder. Roger Lanceyln green aptly said of it that to analyze its meaning is to "cut open a ball in search of the bounce." T.A. Shippey has refuted this statement somewhat, and gone to lengths ...more
Mary Catelli
A short, late work by the master. A novelette, even, rather than a novella.

In a village -- "not very long ago for those with long memories, nor very far away for those with long legs" -- there was a custom of the Cook, and every twenty-four years, that Cook held the Feast of Good Children. He recounts the custom, and how it happened that the Cook's prentice was not allowed to succeed him, but another man brought in, and how they baked the cake one time, and put in it trinkets, including a silver
Sep 21, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of fairy tales & Tolkien
Recommended to Allison by: Spotted on shelf
What a charming story! I stumbled upon this little gem when I was at the library picking up some books for my daughter in the Juvie section. I honestly didn't realize Tolkien had written more than The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Silmarillion and what he son compiled as Letters from Father Christmas. Now I'm on a mission to hunt down these lesser known, lesser appreciated works. The Smith of Wooton Major is a fun little story that I wish I'd know about when my children were young. I ...more
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John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE was an English writer, poet, WWI veteran (a First Lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers, British Army), philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the high fantasy classic works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings .

Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford from 1925 to 1945, and Merton Professor of English
“To seek for the meaning is to cut open the ball in search of its bounce.” 0 likes
“Far off there was a great hill of shadow, and out of that shadow, which was its root, he saw the King's Tree springing up, tower upon tower, into the sky, and its light was like the sun at noon; and it bore at once leaves and flowers and fruits uncounted, and not one was the same as any other that grew on The Tree.” 0 likes
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