So, it feels good to read a case of persistence paying off. Thanks to researcher Katy Makin's willingness to sort through bundles of letters and documents, she found a real treasure: a letter from J. R. R. Tolkien to renowned folklore scholar and fellow author Katharine Briggs. Taken together with two letters in the Bodleian, this letter in the Folklore Society Archive at University College London forms a brief correspondence:
Briggs to Tolkien, October 11th 1954. [Bodleian]
Tolkien's reply, 13th October. [Folklore Society Archive]
Briggs' follow-up, 21st October. [Bodleian]
This thus falls in the brief period between the publication of THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (29th July) and that of THE TWO TOWERS (November 11th). The brief excerpt from Tolkien's letter accompanying this articles reveals that Briggs had two specific critiques. First, she zeroed in on the changes made to try to bring the the Gollum chapter in THE HOBBIT into line w. the new account of those events in the new book (something that did not get satisfactorily resolved until the changes of 1944/47). And second she found it hard to believe that anyone wd run with his hands in his pockets as Bilbo is said to have done.
Regarding Gollum she replies 'I hope you will approve of my treatment of his unhappy psychology'.
In addition to the gollum scene she alludes briefly to the return of the king: 'hope this is Aragorn' --a reminded that the third volume's title is more ambiguous than some wd have it.
I'm particularly glad to learn of Makin's discovery because I've long been certain some correspondence existed between K.M.B. and J. R. R. Tolkien but have never managed to make any sort of methodical search for it.