Ælfwine of England

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For other uses, see Ælfwine.
First appearance The Book of Lost Tales
Created by J.R.R. Tolkien
Species Man (Middle-earth)
Gender Male
Spouse(s) Cwén
Children Hengist (Cwén)
Horsa (Cwén)
Heorrenda (Naimi)
Nationality Anglo-Saxon

Ælfwine is a fictional character found in various early versions of J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. Tolkien envisaged Ælfwine as an Anglo-Saxon who visited and befriended the elves and acted as the source of later mythology. Thus, Ælfwine is given as the author of the various translations in Old English that appear in The History of Middle-earth Series. The Old English name Ælfwine means "Elf-friend". It is a well attested historical Germanic name, alongside its Old High German and Lombard equivalents, Alwin and Alboin, respectively.

The unfinished The Lost Road was intended as a tale of "time travel" where descendants of Ælfwine experience memories or visions of their ancestors, connecting the present time with the mythological, back to the fall of Atlantis (Númenor).

The later Quenya or "Elven-Latin" name Elendil translates the name Ælfwine.

Conceptual origins[edit]

In the continuity of The Book of Lost Tales, the character's real name was Ottor Wǽfre (called by the Elves Eriol). He set out from what is today called Heligoland on a voyage with a small crew but was the lone survivor after his ship crashed upon the rocks near an island. The island was inhabited by an old man who gave him directions to Eressëa. After he found the island the elves hosted him in the Cottage of Lost Play and narrated their tales to him. He afterwards learned from the Elves that the old man he met was actually "Ylmir". He was taught most of the tales by the old Elf named Rúmil who is the lore master living on Eressëa. Eriol became more and more unhappy as a man and yearned constantly to be an Elf. He eventually finds out that he can become an elf with a drink of Limpë which he is denied by the leader of Kortirion (Meril-i-Turinqi, great-granddaughter of Ingwë) on multiple occasions.[1]

The character "Ælfwine" of the later continuity was not invented until sometime after the writing of "The Book of Lost Tales".

Ælfwine in the later continuity[edit]

There is no such framework in the published version of The Silmarillion; Tolkien eventually changed the intended framework of the saga, altering its mode from tales told by Ælfwine to one based around Bilbo Baggins's Red Book translations of "Elvish lore".[citation needed]

However the later writings of Tolkien indicate that he didn't fully abandon the idea of a framework akin to the Ælfwine-tradition, far into the latter years of his life; there is some evidence that, even after the "Red Book" concept was introduced, Ælfwine continued to have some role in the transition of The Silmarillion and other writings from Bilbo's translations into Modern English. For example, the Narn i Hîn Húrin, which Christopher Tolkien dates to the period after the publication of The Lord of the Rings,[2] has this introductory note: "Here begins that tale which Ǽlfwine made from the Húrinien."[3]


  1. ^ Tolkien, John (1992). The Book of Lost Tales. Ballantine Books. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-345-37521-6. 
  2. ^ The War of the Jewels p. 314
  3. ^ The War of the Jewels p. 311


  • Tolkien, J.R.R. (2002). The book of Lost Tales - part two. London: Harper Collins. ISBN 978-0-261-10214-9. 
  • Tolkien, J.R.R. (1995). The War of the Jewels. Harper Collins. ISBN 0-261-10324-5.