Monday, July 17, 2023

R.I.P. Charles E. Noad (1947-2023)

Charles in 1987
My friend Charles Noad was found dead on Thursday of last week. I met him at a meeting of the Northfarthing Smial (of the Tolkien Society) in London, on the 2nd of July 1978, so our friendship goes back a full forty-five years. He befriended many Tolkienists, and kept extensive accounts with some of us Americans, as he supplied us with UK books, and we supplied him with US ones. He worked much behind-the-scenes in Tolkien scholarship, proofreading for Christopher Tolkien's History of Middle-earth series, and other Tolkien-related books by various scholars. His eagle-eye as a proof-reader was legendary. He published a number of essays, perhaps the most notable being his contribution ("On the Construction of The Silmarillion") to Tolkien's Legendarium (2000), edited by Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter, which was a festschrift for Christopher Tolkien. Charles also published a booklet in 1977, The Trees, the Jewels and the Rings. He served for many years as the Bibliographer of the Tolkien Society, and frequently contributed book reviews, and (sadly) obituaries, the latter often in collaboration with Jessica Yates, to Tolkien Society publications.  

My correspondence file with Charles
In memory of Charles, I have been browsing through our large correspondence files. They are just over six inches thick--and most are actual letters that passed through the mails. (Charles didn't really embrace emails until the 2010s.) When we met I was eighteen, and he the grand old man of thirty. In 1978, he no longer had any copies of his booklet to give away, so I was presented with a copy of the typescript. We met up whenever I was in England (infrequently), and I recall one visit he made to America, for the 1987 Mythcon in Milwaukee, at which Christopher Tolkien was one of the Guests of Honor. (Charles had made one previous trip to the US back in the 1960s, when he showed up at Richard West's door unannounced!) 

Charles must have had some inkling that his health was failing, for in February he wrote me of finally setting up a will. I last exchanged emails with him in June, at which time he seemed fine. I will really miss Charles, and the Tolkien-world has lost a quiet giant. 

 Christopher Tolkien and Charles, at Keble College, 1992, sent to me by Charles


  1. I was saddened to hear of this news. I never had any direct contact with Charles, but I admired his contribution to Tolkien scholarship greatly. His review of my book remains the one the one that I am best pleased with. My condolences to his family and all the many people who cared about him.


  2. Thank you very much for sharing this; it really is a huge loss on so many levels. I am simply glad I had the opportunity in joining in the applause last Oxonmoot when Charles received his 50 years badge - an honour that seems unlikely to be repeated often.

    And I would have loved a copy of "The Trees, the Jewels and the Rings"... Alas, it was not meant to be.