Fun Facts Friday: J. R. R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien (3 January, 1892 – 2 September, 1973) was an English author, poet, and academic best known for his fantasy novels The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings.

Books by J. R. R. Tolkien* Books by J. R. R. Tolkien*

  1. Born as John Ronald Reuel Tolkien in the Orange Free State of South Africa. His father was a bank manager, and his mother a housewife. The family moved to England circa 1895.
  2. The author developed an interest in languages since a young age. He started inventing his own language as well as studying Latin and Anglo-Saxon.
  3. At age 16 the author met his future wife, Edith Mary Bratt, who was three years older than him. His guardian, a Catholic priest, however, prohibited him from seeing her until he was 21. I’m sure that Edit being a Protestant didn’t help. Mrs. Tolkien is the inspiration for Lúthien Tinúviel (The Silmarillion, the epic poem The Lay of Leithian) and Arwen Evenstar (The Lord of the Rings).
  4. Tolkien didn’t want to volunteer for military service during World War I. He entered a program which delayed his enlistment until he completed his college degree, but suffered public humiliation for not joining. Eventually he was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers. Eventually he found himself fighting in the Battle of the Somme. The author contracted the trench fever disease and was sent back to England, but many of his good friends were killed and his battalion was almost wiped out completely. Mr. Tolkien has said that Sam Gamgee, of The Lord of the Rings, was based on the soldiers he commanded who faced hardship without complaint.
  5. After he left the army, Mr. Tolkien got a job at Oxford English Dictionary working on the etymology of Germanic words begging with the letter W. Later on he became the youngest professor at the University of Leeds.
  6. Later on, at Oxford, Mr. Tolkien served as Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon. Among his colleagues was an expert on medieval literature, C. S. Lewis. The two forged a lifelong friendship and members of an intellectual group called The Inklings.
  7. Bilbo Baggins’ journey across the Misty Mountains is based on the author’s hike from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen and on to camp in the moraines beyond Mürren as part of a party of 12 in Switzerland.
  8. Today he might be known for his work in fiction, but that was his side job. Even today Mr. Tolkien is considered to be one of the most renowned medieval scholars of all time, his publications are still considered a must in libraries.
  9. The lecture on Beowulf, The Monsters and the Critics, was highly acclaimed and changed the way people thought of the epic poem.
  10. and Mrs. Tolkien were married for the rest of their lives, they share a gravestone with the names “Beren” and “Lúthien”, a pair of lovers from The Lord of the Rings.

 Books by J. R. R. Tolkien*

Zohar – Man of la Book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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