The family of J. R. R. Tolkien have been split by a feud over the long-awaited movie version of The Lord of the Rings.

Christopher Tolkien, one of the late author's three surviving children, has severed contact with his eldest son because of a long-standing dispute sparked by the making of the £210 million ($719 million) film trilogy.

The 77-year-old opposes the project.

Now the eldest of his three children, Simon, has told how he was cut adrift from family affairs and banned from the board set up to protect his grandfather's estate after daring to suggest the movies were a good idea.


The 42-year-old criminal barrister, from west London, said: "As long ago as early 1999, it was my view that we should take a much more positive line on the film and that was overruled by my father. Following that, I was excluded from the board of the Tolkien company.

"My father is the one who exercises control over the affairs of the family in relation to my grandfather's estate. His only mode of communication with me is by letter."

Mr Tolkien is determined not to allow the rift destroy his memories of his grandfather, who died when he was 13.

J. R. R. Tolkien signed away the film rights to The Lord of the Rings for just £10,000 in 1968, five years before his death at the age of 81.

Since then, the loss of what was destined to be a lucrative franchise is said to have been a consistent source of irritation to Christopher.

In stark contrast, Simon, who recently finished writing his own novel, a courtroom drama, has actively embraced the making of the movies.

He met their director, Peter Jackson, two years ago, and will be attending next week's London premiere of the first part, The Fellowship of the Ring, with wife Tracy and 11-year-old son Nicholas.