JRR Tolkien Estate Settles Dispute Over Novel Featuring Tolkien As Character (Exclusive)

J.R.R Tolkien - Portrait - 1956
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The J.R.R. Tolkien estate has settled a dispute with author Stephen Hillard over a forthcoming fictional book that features Tolkien as a character and includes a critical analysis of Tolkien's books.

In February, Hillard went to the U.S. District Court in Texas seeking a declaration that he had a First Amendment right to publish Mirkwood, A Novel About J.R.R. Tolkien against the estate's claims that such a book would infringe upon Tolkien's name and likeness. The parties have now agreed on a plan that would allow the book to come out without further litigation.

Hillard's book is described as taking place from 1970 through near-present day in the U.S. and features six characters -- five fictional and Tolkien himself. Mirkwood is not only fiction, but also an exercise in "literary criticism," as it is said to take issue with the lack of female characters in Tolkien's works, including The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series. 

After the Tolkien estate learned of the book, it sent Hilliard a cease-and-desist letter, threatening a lawsuit if he didn't cease publishing the novel and destroy all copies.

According to the settlement, the book will now be released with a modified reference to Tolkien on the cover and will also include the disclaimer, "This is a work of fiction which is neither endorsed nor connected with The JRR Tolkien Estate or its publisher." 

As a result of the settlement, Hillard is dismissing his lawsuit in Texas.

"The settlement terms are confidential, but the agreement adequately addresses the Estate's concerns about Mr. Hillard's book," says Aaron Moss, attorney for the Tolkien Estate.

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