A touching letter written by Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien could fetch up to £10,000 when it goes up for auction in Royston next month.

The letter was written to then eight-year-old Christopher Howard in late 1961, who has kept the letter in his keepsakes’ box for six decades before deciding to sell it.

It will now be sold at Royston auction house Hanson Ross on April 12, with a guide price of £8,000-£10,000, but it could go for more after a lengthy autographed Tolkien letter, sent to his publisher, sold for more than £25,000 last year.

The Comet: Christopher Howard is parting with the letter after more than 60 years.Christopher Howard is parting with the letter after more than 60 years. (Image: Hanson Ross)

"My mother was an English teacher who would read bedtime stories to my younger brother and I, and when we were aged six and eight she started reading The Hobbit to us," explain Christopher, now 71.

"I quickly realised I wanted to read it myself, which I did. The magical effect of reading words that created pictures in my mind amazed me. I could see the dragon, Smaug, in his lair, the Dwarves in their mountain halls, Wizards, Orcs and of course, Hobbits.

"I needed to know if the author had written any more books full of such thrilling adventures, and therefore wrote a letter to him which mum sent to his publisher, George Allen & Unwin. They passed it on to Professor Tolkien, who replied in a letter dated December 28, 1961.

The Comet: Tolkien's letter in full.Tolkien's letter in full. (Image: Hanson Ross)

"You can imagine how thrilled I was to receive this letter. Immediately, on seeing the envelope, in my mind Professor Tolkien’s beautiful handwriting transported our home straight to Middle Earth.

"In his reply, he took time to carefully address every point in my letter, referred to my younger brother Nicky, mentioned characters in The Hobbit, and informed me in detail about the other book - or books - he had written, The Lord Of The Rings."

The letter, hand-written by fountain pen on headed paper, displays Tolkien’s Oxford address at the time - 76 Sandfield Road, Headington - and his phone number.

The Comet: J.R.R. Tolkien.J.R.R. Tolkien. (Image: Hanson Ross)

It was here where he wrote both the Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit, before his death in 1973.

Amanda Butler, head of operations at Hanson Ross, said: "It's a wonderful find, a very touching, kind and personal letter. It reminds us of the art of letter-writing in a fast-paced world now dominated by emails and short and snappy text or WhatsApp messages.

"Professor Tolkien was a busy man, and yet he found time at Christmas to write to a young fan. It's hard to imagine any celebrity today composing something so special.

"The fact that our vendor has treasured the letter for life underlines its importance. It offers us a glimpse of Tolkien's kindness and integrity and is a welcome reminder of old-fashioned values and courtesy. We very much hope to deliver the auction result it deserves."

The Comet: An eight-year-old Christopher Howard.An eight-year-old Christopher Howard. (Image: Hanson Ross)

The Comet: The letter with Christopher's address on it.The letter with Christopher's address on it. (Image: Hanson Ross)