Today's Date in the Shire
Fun and Games
Walk to Rivendell
Malbeth the Seer
The author of the 'Book of the Century', J.R.R. Tolkien is one of the most recognizable names in literature. His novels "The Hobbit" and the "Lord of the Rings" are some of the best-known stories ever told, but they began as simple tales Tolkien told to his children at bedtime.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on the 3rd of January 1892, in Bloemfontein, South Africa. His father died only three year later, and his mother took him and his younger brother, Hilary, to Birmingham, England, where she died of diabetes only seven year later, leaving the boys orphaned and living with an Aunt.
Young Tolkien did not allow adversity to overcome him, though, for he went on to attend Oxford where he was awarded a First Class Honours degree in English Language and Literature. During his early years at Oxford he also married his childhood sweetheart Edith Bratt. Shortly thereafter World War I broke out and Tolkien served in the army where he saw action on the Somme. During that battle he suffered shell shock and, during a period of convalescence, began his studies of languages that would later become "The Silmarillion", the historical base for all of his Middle-earth stories.
After the war, Tolkien went on to a distinguished academic career. He joined the staff of the New English Dictionary in 1919 and also worked as a tutor at Oxford. He went on to teach at Leeds University and in 1925 became Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University. In 1945 he was appointed Merton Professor of English at Oxford and finally retired in 1959. During these years he studied everything from "Beowulf" to the Finnish saga "Kalevala", which served as the root of his Elven languages. He would use his studies to help create his own mythical world.
While teaching at Oxford, Tolkien, a devout Catholic, became great friends with C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams and others. Together, they formed an informal literary group called The Inklings, which got together weekly to read aloud their written works of fiction and religious interest, including much of Tolkien's Middle-earth tales.
In 1937 "The Hobbit" was published. What began with "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit" soon became an international sensation that became so popular that publishers were soon asking for more. Tolkien immediately began to write what would become "The Lord of the Rings", but because of World War II and other complication it was not published in it entirety until 1955
After "The Lord of the Rings", Tolkien wanted to release "The Silmarillion" but could never find a publisher who would support it. After his retirement, He did publish "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil", "Tree and Leaf", "Smith of Wooton Major", and "The Road goes ever on".
His wife died in 1971 at the age of 82, and on 2 September 1973 J.R.R. Tolkien died at 82.