FAQ / Which are The Two Towers

The Two Towers are most probably Orthanc and MinasMorgul!

The issue, however was not easily settled. In a letter to Rayner Unwin (the publisher) from Aug 17, 1953 (Letters #140) Tolkien states:

"The Two Towers" gets as near as possible to finding a title to cover the widely divergent Books 3 and 4; and can be left ambiguous - it might refer to Isengard and Barad-dūr, or to MinasTirith and B; or Isengard and CirithUngol." [1]
Letters #140

and the note (either by H.C. or C.T.) explains:

[1] In a subsequent letter to Rayner Unwin, Tolkien is more definite that the Two Towers are 'Orthanc and the Tower of CirithUngol'. On the other hand, in his original design for the jacket of The Two Towers the Towers are certainly Orthanc and MinasMorgul. Orthanc is shown as a black tower, three-homed (as seen in Pictures no. 27), and with the sign of the White Hand beside it; MinasMorgul is a white tower, with a thin waning moon above it, in reference to its original name. MinasIthil, the Tower of the Rising Moon (The Fellowship of the Ring p. 257). Between the two towers a Nazgūl flies.

the painting can be found e.g. in JRR Tolkien-Artist and Illustrator, p. 181, and in the "subsequent letter" from Jan 22, 1954 (Letters #143) mentioned in the footnote , Tolkien wrote:

"I am not at all happy about the title The Two Towers. It must if there is any real reference in it to Vol II refer to Orthanc and the Tower of CirithUngol. But since there is so much made of the basic opposition of the Dark Tower and MinasTirith, that seems very misleading."
Letters #143

A note at the last page of FotR says:

Here ends the first part of the history of the War of the Ring.
The second part is called THE TWO TOWERS, since the events recounted in it are dominated by ORTHANC, the citadel of Saruman, and the fortress of MINAS MORGUL that guards the secret entrance to Mordor;...
The Fellowship of the Ring, p.423

but since the authorship of the note is not quite clear, additional information is needed, which eventually can be found in the Chronology provided in the Descriptive Bibliography:

23 February 1954 Tolkien returns the proofreader's queries 'for which I am non the less grateful even though I have seldom accepted his suggestions'; He also returns, rewritten the note for the last page of FR
JRR Tolkien-A Descriptive Bibliography, p.92; my emphasis


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