Notes and Documents Robert Quilter Gilson, T.C.B.S.: A Brief Life in Letters John Garth n Tolkien and the Great War, I dealt closely with the T.C.B.S., the circle of former schoolfriends who encouraged and critiqued Tolkien's early mythological writings from 1914. Among them, Robert Quilter Gilson played two crucial roles. In life, he was the social hub of the group. His death in the Battle of the Somme was a crisis that helped to catalyze and mature Tolkien's sense of creative purpose. For the book it was clearly vital to discover more about the T.C.B.S. and its members. I managed to make contact with Julia Margretts, Rob's niece, and learned that her family still had a large body of his correspondence. Some of these letters are between him and a young woman, Estelle King--the love of his short life. But most are to his stepmother Marianne, whom Rob and his younger sister had renamed Donna. He wrote so often that his letters become almost a diary. They enriched my book both directly, by revealing new details about the T.C.B.S. and its members, and indirectly, by leading me vividly through the life of a typical junior British Army officer
Tolkien Studies – West Virginia University Press
Published: May 26, 2011
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