In the 20th century, there were not many authors whose popularity could match the popularity of British fantasy writer J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973).
Thanks to his “The Lord of the Rings”, this genre has become one of the most famous and sought-after on the market. Tolkien (by the way, his surname is actually pronounced as “Tolkien”) won the crowd of fans and spawned many imitators, but what do we know about this man and writer in reality?
1. Tolkien participated in the First World War
John Ronald Ruel Tolkien was born in South Africa, but after the death of his father, the family returned to England, where his mother died soon after. Little John was under the care of relatives, lived and studied in private boarding schools, and then at Oxford College Exeter, where he studied English language and literature.
He then enlisted in the British Army, joined an infantry regiment during World War I and fought in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Tolkien was demobilized after “trench fever,” a bacterial disease carried by lice. And just before the war, the future writer married Edith Brett, the girl he had loved since the age of 16. He later wrote in his memoirs: “The war made me acutely aware of the beauty of the world.”
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2. Tolkien and K.S. Lewis met at Oxford University
In 1925, 33-year-old Tolkien became professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford and founded the writing group The Inklings, which included C.S. Lewis. The future author of The Chronicles of Narnia was also a professor, and if at first hostility arose between the two writers, then later it grew into a strong friendship.
3. Tolkien did not consider his books to be works for children.
While working at Oxford, Tolkien began writing The Hobbit, which would begin the saga of Middle-earth. The book told about Bilbo Baggins and his adventures along with other hobbits and the wizard Gandalf. The Hobbit was published in 1937, and the author himself stated that this book is not for children. Tolkien also created over 100 drawings for his novel himself.
4. Tolkien’s wife was his muse all his life
For his series “The Lord of the Rings”, the writer drew inspiration from the study of mythology and science fiction. But his constant muse was Edith Brett-Tolkien, with whom they lived for 55 years. At the very beginning of their relationship, the writer somehow saw Edith dancing in nature in the Yorkshire forest, and he began to write a story about the elven princess Luthien and her lover Beren. The names of these characters were subsequently engraved on the tombstone of the Tolkien couple.
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5. The writer was a terrible driver
In 1932, Tolkien bought a Morris Cowley car. Cars were rare at the time, so Tolkien did not have the opportunity to practice driving. According to his contemporaries, he drove his car terribly: he drove on flat tires, crashed into walls and rushed through intersections.
6. One of Tolkien’s three sons, Christopher, continued his father’s work
Tolkien began working on the stories that make up the collection “The Silmarillion” as early as 1914, but he never lived to see their publication. His youngest son Christopher edited and completed his father’s work, and then published the collection in 1977. Christopher was born in 1924 and helped his father from an early age. As a child and adolescent, he was even instructed to proofread The Hobbit for errors. Christopher later drew the main map of Middle-earth for The Lord of the Rings. When Tolkien died in 1973, he became the steward of his father’s legacy. Christopher himself passed away in 2020 at the age of 95.
The most famous quotes by J.R.R. Tolkien
- “If you really want to know what Middle-earth is based on, then it is based on my admiration for this land.”
- “Deep roots will not be smitten by frost.” (From The Fellowship of the Ring)
- “Courage hides in the most unexpected places.” (From The Fellowship of the Ring)
- “Not all those who wander are lost.” (From The Fellowship of the Ring)
- “Short paths lead to long delays.” (From The Fellowship of the Ring)
- “The war made me acutely aware of the beauty of the world.”
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