Secret Fire: The Spiritual Vision of J.R.R. Tolkien

Stratford Caldecott

Published in the UK by Darton, Longman & Todd, 9.95
(ISBN 0-232-52477-7)

'Every Catholic school will want a copy as will anyone interested in Tolkien as a serious writer.'
Eric Hester, The Catholic Times

'A literally wonderful – wonder-full – book. It will open the eyes of any reader who considers The Lord of the Rings just a gripping yarn in a fantasy world. Tolkien's "vision" – Caldecott makes it clear the word is just right – draws on deep springs of philosophy and mysticism – and, not least, the orthodoxy of the church.'
Aidan Nichols OP


J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings was the most widely-read book of the twentieth century after the Bible. An epic fantasy about the quest to destroy an evil Ring of Power, culminating in The Return of the King (released at the end of 2003 as the third part of a massively successful film adaptation by Peter Jackson) it appeals to people of all ages and beliefs. Yet the book is much more than an adventure story.

Tolkien is concerned with the meaning and value of the natural cosmos, the dangerous temptations associated with technology, and the inevitability of loss and death. He is also writing about the nature and deepest springs of human creativity. His "heroic romance" is a work of profound Catholic spirituality, communicating a perennial wisdom to modern men and women, both pagan and Christian, in the language of the poetic imagination, the universal idiom of myth.

Secret Fire explores the range and depth of Tolkien's vision in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. It also draws extensively on some of his most remarkable and little-known writings. It explains the importance for Tolkien of the intimate relationship between Elves and Men, and unveils the true meaning of the mysterious "Secret Fire", served by both Gandalf and Tolkien.

Stratford Caldecott is the European Director of the Chesterton Institute for Faith & Culture and the Editor of Second Spring.

The book can be ordered through your local bookshop or from

US Edition now available from The Crossroad Publishing Company

Darton, Longman & Todd,
1 Spencer Court, 140-42 Wandsworth High Street,
London SW18 4JJ
Tel. 020 8875 0155
24-hour ordering: 020 8875 0133
Email: [email protected]


An expanded American edition of this book is now available from Crossroad Publishing under the title The Power of the Ring.




Monsters and Critics

1. The Tree of Tales
The Hall of Fire
Going 'Inside Language'
The Notion Club
Tree and Leaf

2. A Very Great Story
The Hobbit: There and Back Again
The Lord of the Rings

The Triumph of Mercy
The Return of the King
The Scouring of the Shire

The Ring Today

3. A Hidden Presence: Tolkien's Catholicism
The Order of Grace
Star of the Sea
Lady Day
A Sacramental Universe
The Heart of a Child

4. Let These Things Be
The Music of Meaning
The Gods of Middle-Earth
Ages of Light and Darkness
Death and Immortality

5. Behind the Stars
Elvish Aesthetics
Coming Home
The Healing of Arda
The Secret Fire

Conclusion: Tolkien's Achievement


An Archetypal Journey: Tolkien and Jung
Tolkien's Social Philosophy
The Shadow of King Arthur
Myths Transformed