Appendix 1WISH(based on Florence Bone’s The Rose-coloured Wish (1923))
1.) SomeSuperficial Assumptions
a.) Since my name has become associated with The Rose-Coloured Wish I have come across
the rather naïve suggestion that that F.B.’s story inspired Tolkien’s ring saga or
at least influenced it. To my almost certain knowledge JRRT did not know F.B.’s stories.
The surmise, which shows no awareness of the complex background to Tolkien’s fictional
output with its vast history of the Ring, seems to be based on several salient features:
this tale turns on obtaining a ‘lucky ringlet’ with power to fulfil wishes, benign
or malign; it is in the hands of a sour, stunted, malevolent figure; the setting
for the adventure to seize this ring for the safety and well-being of farmers, foresters
and their families and flocks, is distinctly alpine.
b.) That setting, which I have retained and developed in my version, generated equally
My wife, who illustrated WISH throughout, made a selection from her original
sketches and paintings of the Lauterbrunnen valley in the Bernese Oberland as a model
for the cover illustration. When it appeared on the internet there was delight of
an almost detective-like discovery in many quarters that she had based her work on
Tolkien’s own painting of Rivendell.
It’s quite possible, of course, that both artists were inspired by the same
Swiss valley. But this is a different matter, and of far more significance than an
assumed copying process. And it would involve establishing some careful details about
Tolkien’s itinerary during his visit to Switzerland and sojourn at Grindelwald: did
he ever view this valley from Wengen as did my wife and I in all its moods during
our many summer holiday visits there?
Arguably, in any case, Rivendell feels both in Tolkien’s picture and how it is
described in The Hobbit, an altogether more intimate and sheltered place than the
vast glacial valley, and the mountains are a more distant prospect, whereas they
loom up over and dominate the Lauterbrunnen Valley.
2.) Dimensions added to Florence Bone’s material that may relate to Tolkien’s fiction
i) The sense of a long pre-history, which is dimly grasped. The geography and people
are integral with this.
ii) A sought-after enchanted object has the capacity to dominate and corrupt its
owner, and yet over others it may have no influence at all. And it may become a source
of disinterested self-denial.
iii) An anti-macho view of heroism. Kindly wisdom has the edge over assertiveness.
iv) Principal places and landmarks have a linguistic relationship and layers of meaning.
v) The journeys, which form the main narrative threads, are given geographical clarity
that can be mapped either literally or at least in the reader’s mind, and there is
a realistic time sequence and duration.
vi) The setting may be in no specific era but it is rooted in a world recognisable
as ours with all its flora and fauna and the physical challenges and sudden contrasts
of thickly forested, isolated mountainous terrain.
vii) Orderly and harmonious day to day life in communities is fragile in a world
dominated by greed, ambition and the use of deceit or violence to fulfil such desires.
viii) There is a link between spiritual death and the desecration of the natural
ix) There are figures who are ‘outside time’ yet very much part of the unfolding
of the physical world, from the processes of which they derive their wisdom and authority
3.) Not inspired by a grandfather’s reading
Another illusion that has developed from an unknown source, is that my grandfather
read Florence Bone’s tales to me, whereas there is no evidence that he ever encountered
her work. If he did he neither mentioned it or read it to his children or grandchildren.
As my preface suggests, it was my mother who read FB’s The Rose-Coloured Wish to
me, and in fact I did not know of the existence of The Other Side of the Rainbow
(the source of my RAINBOW) until 2007. Even then I was uncertain for another two
years as to whether it could or would lead meinto an engaging tale of my own.