J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien

(1892-1973)

Who Was J.R.R. Tolkien?

J.R.R. Tolkien was an English fantasy author and academic. Tolkien settled in England as a child, going on to study at Exeter College. While teaching at Oxford University, he published the popular fantasy novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The works have had a devoted international fan base and been adapted into award-winning blockbuster films.

Early Life and Family

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, on January 3, 1892, to Arthur Tolkien and Mabel Suffield Tolkien. After Arthur died from complications of rheumatic fever, Mabel settled with four-year-old Tolkien and his younger brother, Hilary, in the country hamlet of Sarehole, in Birmingham, England.

Mabel died in 1904, and the Tolkien brothers were sent to live with a relative and in boarding homes, with a Catholic priest assuming guardianship in Birmingham. Tolkien went on to get his first-class degree at Exeter College, specializing in Anglo-Saxon and Germanic languages and classic literature.

World War I

Tolkien enlisted as a lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers and served in World War I, making sure to continue writing as well. He fought in the Battle of the Somme, in which there were severe casualties, and was eventually released from duty due to illness. In the midst of his military service, he married Edith Bratt in 1916.

Books: 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings'

The award-winning fantasy novel The Hobbit — about the small, furry-footed Bilbo Baggins and his adventures — was published in 1937, and was regarded as a children’s book, though Tolkien would state the book wasn’t originally intended for children. He also created more than 100 drawings to support the narrative.

Over the years, while working on scholarly publications, Tolkien developed the work that would come to be regarded as his masterpiece — The Lord of the Rings series, partially inspired by ancient European myths, with its own sets of maps, lore and languages.

J.R.R. Tolkien in 1955

Tolkien released part one of the series, The Fellowship of the Ring in 1954; The Two Towers and The Return of the King followed in 1955, finishing up the trilogy. The books gave readers a rich literary trove populated by elves, goblins, talking trees and all manner of fantastic creatures, including characters like the wizard Gandalf and the dwarf Gimli.

While Rings had its share of critics, many reviewers and waves upon waves of general readers took to Tolkien’s world, causing the books to become global bestsellers, with fans forming Tolkien clubs and learning his fictional languages.

Tolkien retired from professorial duties in 1959, going on to publish an essay and poetry collection, Tree and Leaf , and the fantasy tale Smith of Wootton Major . His wife Edith died in 1971, and Tolkien died on September 2, 1973, at the age of 81. He was survived by four children.

Legacy and New Adaptations

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series are grouped among the most popular books in the world, having sold tens of millions of copies. The Rings trilogy was also adapted by director Peter Jackson into a highly popular, award-winning trio of films starring Ian McKellen , Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett and Viggo Mortensen , among others. Jackson also directed a three-part Hobbit movie adaptation starring Martin Freeman, which was released from 2012 to 2014.

Tolkien's son Christopher has edited several works that weren't completed at the time of his father's death, including The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin , which were published posthumously. The Art of the Hobbit was published in 2012, celebrating the novel's 75th anniversary by presenting Tolkien's original illustrations.

Underscoring the enduring popularity of Tolkien's famed fantasy world, in November 2017, online retail and entertainment behemoth Amazon announced that it had acquired the TV rights for the book series. In its statement, the company revealed plans to "explore new storylines preceding Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring, " with the potential for a spinoff series, thereby exciting fans with the promise of a prequel to the familiar deeds of Bilbo Baggins, Gandalf and the rest.

The author's life was the subject of the 2019 feature Tolkien , a biopic starring Nicholas Hoult and steeped with references to The Lord of the Rings .

QUICK FACTS

  • Name: John Ronald Ruel Tolkien
  • Birth Year: 1892
  • Birth date: January 3, 1892
  • Birth City: Bloemfontein
  • Birth Country: South Africa
  • Gender: Male
  • Best Known For: J.R.R. Tolkien is an internationally renowned fantasy writer. He is best known for authoring 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the Rings' trilogy.
  • Writing and Publishing
  • Fiction and Poetry
  • Astrological Sign: Capricorn
  • Exeter College
  • King Edward's School
  • Death Year: 1973
  • Death date: September 2, 1973
  • Death City: Bournemouth, Dorset
  • Death Country: England

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CITATION INFORMATION

  • Article Title: J.R.R. Tolkien Biography
  • Author: Biography.com Editors
  • Website Name: The Biography.com website
  • Url: https://www.biography.com/authors-writers/jrr-tolkien
  • Access Date:
  • Publisher: A&E; Television Networks
  • Last Updated: September 11, 2019
  • Original Published Date: April 2, 2014
  • If you really want to know what Middle-earth is based on, it's my wonder and delight in the earth as it is, particularly the natural earth.
  • Children aren't a class. They are merely human beings at different stages of maturity. All of them have a human intelligence which even at its lowest is a pretty wonderful thing, and the entire world in front of them.
  • The hobbits are just what I should like to have been but never was—an entirely unmilitary people who always came up to scratch in a clinch.

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Tom Shippey's top 10 books on JRR Tolkien

Tom Shippey is the author of JRR Tolkien: Author of the Century, a companion to Tolkien's work and a spirited defence of fantasy writing, which puts Tolkien in the context of the legendary storytelling tradition. Buy JRR Tolkien: Author of the Century at Amazon.co.uk

Tolkien's fame rests on The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. When these books first appeared, they were completely without precedent, but have created a whole literary genre of imitations: the heroic fantasy trilogy, set in the world of fairy tale. Since his death in 1973, much of Tolkien's previously unpublished writing has reached print, while his works have been variously explained, expanded, and set in context.

1. The Silmarillion edited by Christopher Tolkien (Grafton Books, £6.99) Tolkien's elvish mythology, which he had been working on for most of his life but never finished, was eventually edited by his son and published in 1977. It tells the story of the First and Second Ages, the coming of the elves, their wars with Morgoth and his lieutenant, Sauron, and gives a summary account of events up to the end of the Third Age and the War of the Ring. Written without concessions to novelistic convention, it is a demanding and challenging work: not at all a children's book.

2. The Annotated Hobbit with notes by Douglas R. Anderson The Hobbit has undergone several changes since its first publication in 1937. In particular, once The Lord of the Rings had been written, the account of Bilbo's riddle match with Gollum, and his winning of the Ring, had to be revised to make them consistent with Tolkien's later conceptions. Douglas Anderson notes the changes, gives sources for the riddles, comments on names and parallels throughout the story, and enlivens the text with illustrations from the many editions and translations of The Hobbit. A new edition is to appear shortly.

3. JRR Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter (HarperCollins, £6.99) This official and family-authorised biography appeared in 1977, before most of the posthumously published works had appeared, but it has worn very well. It tells the story of Tolkien's sad and traumatic youth, as well as his relatively uneventful academic career, with good sections on his relationship with CS Lewis and with his publishers. The bibliography is now incomplete, but accurate as far as it goes. 4. Pictures by JRR Tolkien Tolkien did a number of illustrations for the first edition of The Hobbit, and drew and painted many scenes from The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. These were issued as a series of calendars from 1973 to 1979; here they are collected and expanded, with a foreword and notes by his son. The pictures give an idea of Tolkien's own visualisation of his stories, with paintings of Lothlórien, Moria Gate and many more. 5. The Road Goes Ever On: A Song-Cycle Tolkien's works contain many songs by elves, hobbits and humans. With Tolkien's encouragement and assistance, Donald Swann set a number of them to music, including Bilbo's "The Road Goes Ever On", Treebeard's "In the Willow-meads of Tasarinen", and Sam Gamgee's "In Western Lands Beneath the Sun". They are printed here with Tolkien's comments and transcriptions in elvish script, and his own beautiful calligraphy.

6. An Introduction to Elvish by Jim Allan et al (Bran's Head Books, £10) One of the unprecedented features of The Lord of the Rings was its repeated use of Tolkien's invented languages, especially the elvish languages Quenya and Sindarin, quoted sometimes without translation. In 1977 Jim Allan collated what could be deduced about these from the material published so far, with grammars and dictionaries of both languages. Though much has come out since 1977, Allan's remains the best starting guide for ambitious Middle-earth linguists. 7. The Book of Lost Tales (2 volumes) by JRR Tolkien (Grafton Books, £8.99) These are the first two of the 12-volume History of Middle-earth, edited from 1983 to 1996 by Christopher Tolkien. They contain early drafts of what would become The Silmarillion, written during Tolkien's war service and in the immediate postwar years. It is surprising how faithful he remained to these early conceptions, which underlie much of the work he published almost 40 years later.

8. The Lost Road by JRR Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien (HarperCollins, £9.99) Some time in the 1930s, CS Lewis and Tolkien agreed to write stories on, respectively, space- and time-travel. Lewis's attempt became the trilogy which begins with Out of the Silent Planet, while Tolkien's remained unfinished. His first draft appears in this, volume 5 of The History of Middle-earth. It tries to relate Old English myth to Tolkien's personal vision of the Fall of Numenor, and his own myth of "the lost straight road", which led once upon a time to Valinor, or the Earthly Paradise. A later attempt on the same theme, "The Notion Club Papers", can be found in volume 9, Sauron Defeated. 9. Tolkien's Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth, edited by Verlyn Flieger and Carl F Hostetter (Greenwood Press, £43.95) Dedicated to Christopher Tolkien, this work brings together some 15 essays on Tolkien's mythology, written with the benefit of nearly 30 years of posthumous publication. This is the most complete guide yet to Tolkien's life work, and concentrates on books other than The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Especially valuable are Charles Noad's essay on the development of The Silmarillion, David Bratman on The History of Middle-earth, and John Rateliff on "The Lost Road" and "The Notion Club Papers".

10. Meditations on Middle-earth edited by Karen Haber (St Martins Press, £19.64) No author of fantasy nowadays can escape a debt to Tolkien. In this collection of essays, many of the most prominent contemporary authors of fantasy, including Terry Pratchett, George Martin, Ursula Le Guin, Orson Scott Card and Harry Turtledove explain what Tolkien has meant to them, both professionally and personally.

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Aside from the number of short ‘Guides’ to Tolkien and his works by publishers such as York Notes, Barron’s Book Notes, SparkNotes, and even Dummy’s Guide, there are many excellent books that deal with his works. However, as  The Hobbit  has been in print for over 80 years and The Lord of the Rings for over 60 years the list of possible titles, and the range of their quality, is naturally rather large. Below you will find a (most certainly not exhausted) list of critical works for new and experienced readers to help them expand on their reading of  The Hobbit ,  The Lord of the Rings , and other works.

The list was initially compiled by Ian Collier, David Doughan and Troels Forchammer from an earlier list by Charles E. Noad. It has been updated by Will Sherwood.

Introductory Books

Biographical.

Tolkien: A Biography . Humphrey Carpenter. Allen and Unwin, London. 1977.

The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and their Friends . Humphrey Carpenter. Allen and Unwin, London. 1977.

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien . Ed. Humphrey Carpenter with Christopher Tolkien. George Allen and Unwin, London. 1981.

Tolkien and the Great War . John Garth. HarperCollins, London. 2002.

The Roots of Tolkien’s Middle Earth . Robert S. Blackham. The History Press Ltd, Stroud. 2006.

Tolkien’s Oxford . Robert S. Blackham. The History Press Ltd, Stroud. 2008.

Tolkien and the Peril of War . Robert S. Blackham. The History Press Ltd, Stroud. 2011.

The Tolkien Family Album . John & Priscilla Tolkien, HarperCollins, London. 1992.

The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien: The Places that Inspired  Middle-earth. John Garth. Frances Lincoln, London. 2020.

Scholarship: Tolkien’s Artwork and Maps

J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator . Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull. HarperCollins, London. 1995.

The Art of the Hobbit by Tolkien . Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull. HarperCollins, London. 2011.

The Art of the Lord of the Rings by Tolkien . Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull. HarperCollins, London. 2015.

Journeys of Frodo: An Atlas of JRR Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings . Barbara Strachey. Unwin Paperbacks, London. 1981.

The Atlas of Middle-earth . Karen Wynn Fonstad. Revised edition, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1992; HarperCollins, London. 1992.

The Maps of Tolkien’s Middle-earth . Brian Sibley & John Howe. HarperCollins, London. 2003.

Expand your knowledge!

There are many excellent studies on Tolkien that require some knowledge of Tolkien’s biography and works. Some of these are free but some can be more expensive and harder to find. Tolkien studies has started to expand beyond just Literary Studies into the areas of study such as ecology, musicology, and astronomy.

Academic journals and conference proceedings

Tolkien Studies . Eds. Douglas A. Anderson (from 2012 David Bratman), Michael D. C. Drout, & Verlyn Flieger. West Virginia University Press, Morgantown, 2004 onwards. An annual scholarly publication of Tolkien scholarship that includes a summary or reviews of papers and books published on Tolkien’s fiction and his academic work. (Note: some of the essays in these volumes are very academic, while others are easily read. There are occasional instances of Tolkien’s own work included). You can also find every volume on Project MUSE .

Hither Shore . Collected workshop and Seminar papers from the German Tolkien Society with papers in English and German.

Peter Roe Booklets . Collected workshop and Seminar papers from Tolkien Society Seminars, short articles, and AGM Guest Speakers’ speeches.

Walking Tree Press . Collections of papers and books (especially their Cormarë series ) including collections by Tom Shippey ( Roots and Branches: Selected Papers on Tolkien ), Dimitra Fimi and Thomas Honegger ( Sub-creating Arda: World-building in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Works, its Precursors, and Legacies), and single-author studies like Claudio A. Testi’s Pagan Saints in Middle-earth . The Cormarë Series boasts over forty volumes on Tolkien alone!

The Lord of the Rings 1954 – 2004: Scholarship in Honor of Richard E. Blackwelder . Ed. Wayne G. Hammond & Christina Scull. Marquette University Press, Marquette, 2006.

J.R.R. Tolkien Centenary Conference: Keble College, Oxford, 1992 . Ed. Patricia Reynolds & Glen Goodknight. The Tolkien Society & The Mythopoeic Society, Milton Keynes & Altadena, 1995.

Tolkien 2005: The Ring Goes Ever On, Celebrating 50 Years of The Lord of the Rings . Ed. Sarah Wells. The Tolkien Society, Coventry, 2008.

Journal of Tolkien Research . Eds. Bradford lee Eden, Douglas. A. Anderson, Dimitra Fimi, John R. Holmes, John W. Houghton, Robin Reid, Kristine Larsen, Helen Young, Christopher T. Vaccaro, Andrew Higgins, and Carl Hostetter as of 2015. An open access journal that provides free Tolkien scholarship for all. The journal offers book reviews, articles (peer-reviewed), and conference papers. (Note: some of the essays in these volumes are very academic, while others are easily read.)

Mallorn . Eds. Luke Shelton, Live Knudsen, Nick Polk. The Tolkien Society’s  open access journal that provides free Tolkien scholarship for all. The journal offers book reviews, articles (peer-reviewed), and conference papers. Issues from that past two years are not open access, but are available to available to members of the Society via the  Members’ Area .

Tolkien Society YouTube Channel . We upload talks, panels and papers from a range of Tolkien Society events (Seminar, Annual Dinner, AGM, Conferences) to share and promote Tolkien’s work.

Parma Endalamberon . ‘The Book of the Elven Tongues’ is a journal of the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship that is dedicated to the Elven languages in Tolkien’s legendarium.

Mythlore . The peer-reviewed journal of The Mythopoeic Society that focuses on the works of the Inklings.

Scholarship: Tolkien’s Books

The Lord of the Rings a Reader’s Companion . Wayne Hammond & Christina Scull. HarperCollins, London. 2014.

The Road to Middle-earth . Tom Shippey. Allen and Unwin. London. 2005.

J.R.R. Tolkien Author of the Century . Tom Shippey. HarperCollins, London. 2000.

The Tolkien Scrapbook . Ed. Alida Becker. Running Press, Philadelphia, 1978. Reprinted as The Tolkien Treasury , Courage Books, Running Press. 1989.

The Roots of Tolkien’s Middle Earth . Robert S. Blackham. The History Press Ltd. 2006.

The Annotated Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkien & Douglas A Anderson . 2nd edition, HarperCollins, London. 2003.

Tolkien the Medievalist . Ed. Jane Chance. Routledge, New York. 2003.

Tolkien and the Invention of Myth: A Reader . Ed. Jane Chance. University Press of Kentucky, Lexington. 2004.

The Tolkien and Middle-earth Handbook . Colin Duriez. Monarch, Tunbridge Wells. 1992.

The Complete Guide to Middle-earth: from The Hobbit to The Silmarillion . Robert Foster. Ballantine Books, New York, 1978; Allen and Unwin, London. 1978.

The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary . Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall, Edmund Weiner. Oxford University Press, Oxford. 2006.

Meditations on Middle-earth . Ed. Karen Haber. Earthlight. 2003. Contains contributions by famous writers, e.g. Le Guin, Martin, Pratchett.

Tolkien’s Gedling 1914 . Andrew H. Morton & John Hayes. Brewin Books, Studley. 2008.

Tolkien’s Bag End . Andrew H. Morton. Brewin Books, Studley. 2009.

A Tolkien Compass . Ed. Jared Lobdell. Open Court Publishing, La Sale, Illinois, 1975; Ballantine Books, New York. 1980.

Tolkien: Man and Myth . Joseph Pearce. HarperCollins, London. 1998.

J.R.R. Tolkien . Deborah Webster Rogers, & Ivor A. Rogers. Twayne’s English Author series 304. Twayne Publishers, Boston. 1980.

Perilous Realms: Celtic and Norse in Tolkien’s Middle-earth . Marjorie Burns. University of Toronto Press, Toronto. 2005.

Defending Middle-earth: Tolkien: Myth and Modernity . Patrick Curry. Houghton Mifflin, Boston. 2004.

Blackwell’s A Companion to J. R. R. Tolkien . Ed. Stuart Lee. John Wiley & Sons, Chichester. 2014.

Tolkien and Alterity.   Ed. Christopher Vaccaro & Yvette Kisor. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke. 2017.

The Lord of the Rings: The Mythology of Power . Jane Chance. University Press of Kentucky. Lexington. 2001.

Tolkien’s Art: A Mythology for England . Jane Chance. University Press of Kentucky, Lexington. 2001.

J.R.R. Tolkien and his Literary resonances . Ed. George Clark & Daniel Timmons. Greenwood Press, Westport. 2000.

Tolkien, Race and Cultural History: From Fairies to Hobbits . Dimitra Fimi. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke. 2008.

Tolkien and the study of his sources: critical essays . Ed. Jason Fisher. McFarland. 2010.

Splintered Light: Logos and Languages in Tolkien’s World . Verlyn Flieger. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1983.

A Question of Time: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Road to Faërie . Verlyn Flieger. Kent State University Press, Kent, Ohio. 1997.

Tolkien’s Legendarium . Verlyn Flieger & Carl Hostetter. Greenwood Press, Westport. 2001.

Interrupted Music: The Making of Tolkien’s Mythology . Verlyn Flieger. Kent State University Press, Kent & London. 2005.

Green Suns and Faërie: Essays on J.R.R. Tolkien . Verlyn Flieger. Kent State University Press, Kent & London. 2012.

There Would Always be a Fairy Tale: Essays on Tolkien’s middle-earth . Verlyn Flieger. Kent State University Press, Kent & London. 2017.

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive Bibliography . Wayne G. Hammond & Douglas A. Anderson. St Paul’s Bibliographies, Winchester. 1993.

J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide  (Chronology & 2 volume Guide). Wayne Hammond & Christina Scull. HarperCollins, London. 2017.

The Song of Middle-earth: J.R.R. Tolkien’s Themes, Symbols and Myths . David Harvey. Allen and Unwin, London. 1981.

Tolkien’s World . Randel Helms. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1974; Panther paperback ( Myth, Magic and Meaning in Tolkien’s World ). 1976.

Tolkien and the Silmarils . Randel Helms. Thames and Hudson, London. 1981.

Tolkien and Welsh: Tolkien a Chymraeg . Mark T. Hooker. Llyfrawr. 2012.

Tolkien and the Critics . Ed. Neil D. Isaacs & Rose A. Zimbardo. University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dames and London. 1968.

Tolkien: New Critical Perspectives . Ed. Neil D. Isaacs & Rose A. Zimbardo. University of Kentucky. 1981.

Tolkien and The Silmarillion . Clyde S. Kilby. Harold Shaw, Wheaton, Illinois, 1976; Lion Publishing, Berkhamstead. Herts. 1977.

Master of Middle-earth: the fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien . Paul H. Kocher. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1972; Thames and Hudson, London, 1973; Penguin. 1974.

The Keys of Middle-Earth: Discovering Medieval Literature Through the Fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien . Stuart D. Lee & Elizabeth Solopova. Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke. 2015.

England and Always: Tolkien’s World of the Rings . Jared Lobdell. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1981.

Tolkien and Wales: Language, Literature and Identity . Carl Phelpstead. University of Wales Press, Cardiff. 2011.

J.R.R. Tolkien: Myth, Morality and Religion . Richard L. Purtill. Harper & Row, San Francisco. 1984.

The Individuated Hobbit: Jung, Tolkien and the Archetypes of Middle-earth . Timothy R. O’Neill. Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 1979; Thames and Hudson, London. 1979.

The History of the Hobbit  (2 vols). John Rateliff. HarperCollins, London. 2007.

Romantic Religion: A Study of Barfield, Lewis, Williams and Tolkien . Robert J. Reilly. University of Georgia Press, Athens, Georgia. 1971.

Tolkien: a cultural phenomenon . Brian Rosebury. Palgrave Macmillian, 2003 (superseding his  Tolkien: A Critical Assessment . Brian Rosebury. Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press, London. 1992).

The Shaping of Middle-earth’s Maker . J.S. Ryan. American Tolkien Society. 1992.

J.R.R. Tolkien, Scholar and Storyteller: Essays in Memoriam . Ed. Mary Salu & Robert T. Farrell. Cornell University Press, Ithica and London. 1979.

Languages, Myths and History: An Introduction to the Linguistic and Literary Background of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Fiction . Elizabeth Solopova. North Landing Books, New York. 2009.

There and Back Again: J. R. R. Tolkien and the Origins of The Hobbit . Mark Atherton. I. B. Tauris, London. 2014.

Tolkien’s Library: An Annotated Checklist . Oronzo Cilli. Luna Press Publishing, Edinburgh. 2019.

The Tolkien Estate

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on 3rd January 1892 in Bloemfontein, in the Orange Free State (now South Africa), to Arthur and Mabel Tolkien. His parents, both originally from Birmingham, had moved to South Africa so that Arthur could pursue his career in banking. When Tolkien was three years old, his mother took him and his younger brother Hilary to visit their family in England. The visit became permanent when his father died unexpectedly in South Africa. Mabel settled with her two young sons in Sarehole, a small village just outside Birmingham, which was later to inspire the Shire in Tolkien’s writings.

Tolkien won a scholarship to the prestigious King Edward VI School in Birmingham when he was eight years old and the family moved back to the city for the remainder of his school-days. He excelled in languages studying French, German, Latin and Greek and also taking an interest in Old English, Middle English and Gothic. Unfortunately his mother developed diabetes when he was twelve years old and her health began to deteriorate rapidly. Mabel was a recent convert to Catholicism and she arranged for Father Francis Morgan, a sympathetic Catholic priest, to become the boys’ guardian. She died within the year and although Ronald and his younger brother Hilary were now orphans, Father Francis maintained daily contact with them and gave them love and financial support for the rest of his life.

At school Tolkien found a group of like-minded friends: Geoffrey Smith, Chris Wiseman and Rob Gilson were all precociously talented, in literature, mathematics and drawing respectively. They gathered in the school library illicitly brewing mugs of tea and when they were discovered and ejected, they decamped to Barrows department store where they could drink tea and continue their discussions uninterrupted. The Tea Club and Barrovian Society, or T.C.B.S. for short, was formed. These young men were drawn into close comradeship by a common desire to create something of beauty in the world but within a few years their dreams would be shattered by the war.

Tolkien applied to study Classics (Literae Humaniores, also known as Greats) at Oxford and on his second attempt he won a scholarship to Exeter College, Oxford, matriculating in 1911. After two years of fairly lax study, he was given permission to change from Classics to English, so that he could pursue his growing interest in Germanic philology, and more specifically Old Norse, Old English and Middle English. In the same year, 1913, he was reunited with Edith Bratt, a fellow orphan whom he had met in shared lodgings in Birmingham. Initially Tolkien’s guardian had tried to extinguish their youthful romance. Fearing that a relationship would distract Tolkien from his studies, he had banned any contact between them for three years. As soon as Tolkien reached his twenty-first birthday and the prohibition was lifted, he wrote to Edith and they became engaged within a week.

World War 1

The renewal of their relationship gave him a new focus and he worked harder at his studies, graduating with a first class degree in June 1915. He immediately enlisted in the army, taking a commission in the Lancashire Fusiliers where he hoped to be placed in the same battalion as his school-friend, Geoffrey Smith. After training for a year in Staffordshire and Yorkshire, he qualified as a signalling officer. Aware of the approaching danger, he and Edith married in March 1916 and three months later he was sent to France for the start of the Somme offensive. He saw first-hand the horrors of trench warfare and the utter destruction of man, beast and landscape. Five months later he was sent back to England on a hospital ship suffering from trench fever. He was plagued by this recurring condition for the next two years and spent long periods in hospital, punctuated by stints of defensive duty on the east coast. It was during this time that he began to write down ‘The Lost Tales’, a series of heroic tales of the Elves from a far-distant time. These stories were the forerunner of The Silmarillion , his epic history of Elves and Men and Gods, which occupied him throughout his life and from which The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings eventually sprang. He may have been driven to write these stories down by the proximity of death. Certainly by the time the war ended Rob Gilson and Geoffrey Smith of the T.C.B.S. were dead, along with many of Tolkien’s university friends. Shortly before he died Geoffrey Smith had exhorted Tolkien to pursue the ideals they shared, ‘may you say the things I have tried to say long after I am not there to say them, if such be my lot.’

Early career

With a wife and young son to support, he returned to Oxford at the end of the war and found employment working on the Oxford English Dictionary as a lexicographer. A year later in 1920, he gained his first academic position as Reader in English Language at the University of Leeds, becoming a professor there four years later. His Middle English Vocabulary , written for students using Kenneth Sisam’s Fourteenth Century Verse and Prose , was published in 1922 and his edition of the medieval romance, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight , co-edited with Eric Gordon, was published in 1925. In the same year he returned to Oxford as the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon and a fellow of Pembroke College. For the next twenty years he taught Old English, Old Norse, Gothic and Germanic philology to undergraduates, supervised postgraduate research and pursued his own academic research. His British Academy lecture, ‘Beowulf: the monsters and the critics’ delivered in 1937, was a ground-breaking work which overturned decades of critical thought on this Old English epic poem. Another lecture, ‘On Fairy-stories’, delivered at St Andrew’s in 1939, set out to define fantasy and later came to be recognized as his justification for writing fantasy literature.

The Inklings

At Oxford Tolkien met C.S. Lewis, a colleague in the English Faculty. They soon discovered a shared love of northern myths and legends and would converse late into the night, ‘of the gods & giants & Asgard’. They were invited to attend meetings of an undergraduate club called the Inklings and when the club later foundered, they attached the name to a group of their own friends who met in pubs or college rooms to read aloud their works-in-progress, to drink, talk and debate. The Inklings, and C.S. Lewis in particular, would become crucial in encouraging Tolkien to finish his great work.

In his spare time he continued to work on his legendarium; sketching out thousands of years of history, inventing languages, writing stories, plotting maps and painting landscapes. He also made up stories for his four children: John (born 1917), Michael (born 1920), Christopher (born 1924) and Priscilla (born 1929). Some of these stories were written down and illustrated, and one of them, The Hobbit , found its way to a publisher’s assistant who persuaded Tolkien to submit it for publication. It was published by George Allen & Unwin in 1937 with Tolkien’s own illustrations, maps and dust jacket design. The first print run sold out in three months and it became a perennial children’s classic.

The Lord of the Rings

The success of The Hobbit led his publisher, Stanley Unwin, to ask for more about hobbits. Tolkien submitted instead some of the unfinished prose and verse tales from ‘The Silmarillion’ but when these were roundly rejected, he sat down to write a Hobbit sequel. The story quickly outgrew its original form as a children’s story and burgeoned into an epic fantasy tale for adults. It took twelve years to complete, at the end of which Tolkien reflected, somewhat ruefully, that he had produced a ‘monster: an immensely long, complex, rather bitter, and very terrifying romance, quite unfit for children’. The work, The Lord of the Rings , was both a sequel to The Hobbit and to his unpublished legendarium, ‘The Silmarillion’. In fact the works were so closely related in Tolkien’s mind that he decided The Lord of the Rings could only be published in conjunction with the, as yet unfinished, ‘Silmarillion’. His publisher baulked at the idea and lengthy negotiations with a rival publisher, Collins, also stalled. Three years later Tolkien wrote a chastened letter to George Allen & Unwin, declaring, ‘better something than nothing’. The huge size of the work and doubts as to its potential readership were major concerns but Rayner Unwin (son of Sir Stanley) was convinced of its merits and decided to publish it even if the firm suffered a financial loss. It appeared in three volumes between 1954 and 1955. Literary critics were divided over its merits but sales far outstripped both the publisher’s and the author’s expectations and it has continued to sell in astonishing numbers and to be translated into an ever-increasing number of languages.

Later career

In 1945, while still struggling to finish The Lord of the Rings , Tolkien was elected Merton Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford. His academic focus now switched from Old to Middle English and he had to prepare an entirely new set of lectures and seminars for texts that he had not taught since 1925. In the same year he published a short allegorical story, Leaf, by Niggle , which reflected some of his own concerns that The Lord of the Rings would never be completed. A few years later he published another short story, the comic tale of Farmer Giles of Ham , illustrated by Pauline Baynes. He retired in 1959 having served as a professor at Oxford for thirty-four years.

In retirement Tolkien hoped to complete ‘The Silmarillion’, which he had been working on for over forty years, and for which his publisher (and his readers) were now clamouring. However the success of The Lord of the Rings created its own workload and he was constantly called on to answer fan mail, give interviews and make appearances. He also had academic work to complete and his long-awaited edition of Ancrene Wisse , a medieval prose work, was finally published in 1962. In the same year he published a volume of poetry from Middle-earth, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. A short fairy tale, Smith of Wootton Major, was published in 1967, described by Tolkien as ‘An old man’s book already weighted with the presage of “bereavement”‘, and in 1968 he collaborated with the composer Donald Swann to produce a songbook, The Road Goes Ever On .

He and Edith moved from Oxford to Bournemouth in 1968, hoping that in relative seclusion he would be able to complete his life’s work. Edith’s health was already failing though and she died in November 1971 leaving Tolkien bereft after fifty-five years of marriage. He returned to Oxford to live in a flat owned by Merton College but the completion of ‘The Silmarillion’ proved too great a task for him. He died on 2nd September 1973, aged eighty-one, while visiting friends in Bournemouth and is buried in Oxford alongside his beloved wife Edith. Their gravestone is marked with the additional names, Beren and Lúthien, whose love defeated the Dark Lord and overcame death itself in the First Age of Middle-earth.

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J.R.R. Tolkien

By jake rossen | aug 10, 2020.

best biography of tolkien

AUTHORS (1892–1973); BLOEMFONTEIN, SOUTH AFRICA

There aren't many 20th century authors whose popularity could match that of English fantasy icon J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973). The mind behind The Lord of the Rings and various other works set in Middle-earth has inspired generations of creators and helped establish the high-fantasy genre as one of the most powerful in the marketplace today. He's earned armies of admirers and spawned plenty of imitators over the decades, but few, if any, have managed to rival his accomplishments. For more on Tolkien’s compelling life and work, keep reading.

1. J.R.R. Tolkien was a soldier in World War I.

During his service in World War I, J.R.R. Tolkien came down with "trench fever," which is a bacterial disease carried by lice that earned its nickname because of how common it was among soldiers fighting in trenches. Pictured above is an example of what life in the trenches looked like.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, on January 3, 1892. His family would move to Birmingham, England, in 1896 after his father died, and Tolkien's mother would pass away just a few years after that. From there, Tolkien ended up living with relatives and in boarding homes under the supervision of a priest. He eventually earned a first-class degree at Exeter College in 1915, studying English Language and Literature . Afterwards, he enlisted for duty in the British Army and was placed in the Lancashire Fusiliers infantry regiment during World War I, where he was involved in the Battle of the Somme in 1916. Tolkien was released after contracting "trench fever," a bacterial disease carried by lice that causes fever, muscle pain, headaches, and enlargements of the spleen and liver. Before heading into the war, Tolkien married Edith Bratt , whom he had known since he was 16.

2. J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis met at Oxford University.

J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, along with other members of The Inklings, would regularly meet at The Eagle and Child bar in Oxford, England, to talk shop.

In 1925 , a 33-year-old Tolkien became a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University, notably lecturing on works like Beowulf . There, Tolkien started a writer’s group, The Inklings, where he later fraternized with C.S. Lewis. The future The Chronicles of Narnia author was also a professor, and the two smoothed out some initial dislike to form a friendship. Both men were fascinated by Norse mythology and used their meet-ups with The Inklings to encourage one another to pursue their fiction work.

3. J.R.R. Tolkien didn’t think The Hobbit was a children’s book.

Since its publication in 1937, author J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit has sold more than 100 million copies.

While at Oxford, Tolkien began working on the book that would kick off the Middle-earth saga, The Hobbit , which centers on Bilbo Baggins, a diminutive hero who endures a series of adventures along with a troupe of dwarves and the wizard Gandalf. When the book was published in 1937, it was considered by some to be written for children, though Tolkien said that wasn’t his intention. In a nod to his future efforts offering illustrated maps for his Lord of the Rings saga, Tolkien also created over 100 drawings to add dimension to his first novel.

4. J.R.R. Tolkien’s wife inspired his characters.

The burial site of Edith and J.R.R. Tolkien, with "Luthien" and "Beren" inscribed on the headstone.

Tolkien clearly drew inspiration for his Lord of the Rings series from studying mythology and fantasy fiction. But he also found his muse in his wife, Edith Tolkien. One day, according to a feature on Newsweek , Tolkien watched as Edith danced in a wooded area in Yorkshire. As the war pressed on, Tolkien was soothed by his wife’s grace. Struck by her beauty and elegance, Tolkien began writing a story about an Elvish princess named Lúthien and her love, Beren. The tale was so important to the couple that the characters' names were engraved on their joint headstone.

The story of Beren and Lúthien eventually found its way into The Silmarillion , a collection of tales that gave more detail to the world of Middle-earth. An expanded version, simply titled Beren and Lúthien , was published as its own standalone book in 2017, more than 40 years after Tolkien's death.

5. J.R.R. Tolkien was a terrible driver.

In 1932, Tolkien purchased a Morris Crowley automobile. Because cars were still a relatively new phenomenon, Tolkien had not had much of an opportunity to practice controlling the vehicle. By all accounts, he was a terror behind the wheel, driving on flat tires, crashing into stone walls, and speeding through intersections.

6. J.R.R. Tolkien’s son, Christopher Tolkien, carried on his father’s legacy.

Author J.R.R. Tolkien began working on stories that comprised The Silmarillion as far back as 1914, but he wouldn't live to see them published. It was his son, Christopher, who edited and completed the tales, which were then published in 1977.

Born in 1924, Christopher Tolkien was said to have assisted in his father’s work at a very early age. As a child, he would point out mistakes in bedtime stories and was tasked with reviewing The Hobbit for errors. Later, Christopher drew the main Middle-earth map for The Lord of the Rings . When J.R.R. Tolkien died in 1973, Christopher became the executor of his father’s estate, seeing to it that unpublished works like The Silmarillion saw the light of day. Christopher passed away in 2020 at the age of 95.

7. The J.R.R. Tolkien movie based on his life was disavowed by his estate.

Lily Collins and Nicholas Hoult played Edith Bratt and J.R.R. Tolkien, respectively, in the 2019 film Tolkien.

In 2019, Fox Searchlight released Tolkien , a biopic based on the author's life, starring Nicholas Hoult, from the X-Men franchise, as J.R.R. Tolkien and Lily Collins as wife Edith. The film examines Tolkien’s wartime experiences and his efforts to create his fictional worlds. But the Tolkien estate was unhappy with the movie, saying in a statement that it didn’t approve or authorize it and had no involvement in the production.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth reading order.

Tolkien’s enduring legacy is his Middle-earth saga, which places a heavy focus on the efforts of hobbits Frodo, Sam, and others to confront the Dark Lord Sauron and prevent him from obtaining the One Ring that would give him dominion over the world. The saga grew to encompass several titles beyond The Lord of the Rings and can be read in the order in which they were published:

  • The Hobbit (1937)
  • The Lord of the Rings; The Fellowship of the Ring (1954)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (1954)
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (1955)
  • The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book (1962)
  • The Silmarillion (1977, posthumous)
  • Unfinished Tales (1980, posthumous)
  • The History of Middle-earth (1983-1996, posthumous)
  • The Children of Húrin (2007, posthumous)
  • Beren and Lúthien (2017, posthumous)
  • The Fall of Gondolin (2018, posthumous)

Most Notable J.R.R. Tolkien Quotes:

  • “If you really want to know what Middle-earth is based on, it’s my wonder and delight in the earth as it is, particularly the natural earth.”
  • “Deep roots are not reached by the frost.” (From The Fellowship of the Ring )
  • “Courage is found in unlikely places.” (From The Fellowship of the Ring )
  • “Not all those who wander are lost.” (From The Fellowship of the Ring )
  • “Short cuts make long delays.” (From The Fellowship of the Ring )
  • "The war made me poignantly aware of the beauty of the world."

best biography of tolkien

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J.r.r. Tolkien: A Biography

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J.r.r. Tolkien: A Biography Paperback – Illustrated, June 6, 2000

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  • Print length 304 pages
  • Language English
  • Publisher William Morrow
  • Publication date June 6, 2000
  • Dimensions 5.5 x 0.62 x 8.25 inches
  • ISBN-10 0618057021
  • ISBN-13 978-0618057023
  • Lexile measure 1250L
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Fans who want to delve even deeper into Tolkien's life should pick up a copy of Carpenter's The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien . --P.M. Atterberry

From Library Journal

"A panorama of vignettes done with poise and exhaustive command. A man emerges whole." The Washington Post "J.R.R. Tolkien left his impress upon a whole generation as few recent writers have done ... an excellent biography." Newsweek "Excellent." Newsweek —

About the Author

Humphrey Carpenter, the author of THE BRIDESHEAD GENERATION and THE INKLINGS, among other books, was given unrestricted access to all of Tolkien's papers for his biography of Tolkien, J.R.R. TOLKIEN: A BIOGRAPHY.

From The Washington Post

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  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ William Morrow; Reprint edition (June 6, 2000)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • Paperback ‏ : ‎ 304 pages
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 0618057021
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-0618057023
  • Lexile measure ‏ : ‎ 1250L
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 9.8 ounces
  • Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 5.5 x 0.62 x 8.25 inches
  • #39 in Historical British Biographies
  • #168 in Author Biographies
  • #226 in Rich & Famous Biographies

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Biography of J.R.R. Tolkien: Creator of Middle-Earth

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien best known as J.R.R Tolkien was an outstanding fantasy writer whose works remain relevant in modern literature and are the bed rock of the fantasy genre. Tolkien hails from humble roots and served in the military during the first world war. His experiences as a young adult and his fascination with languages are prominent in his works. Tolkien is the author of several critically acclaimed fantasy novels including the Silmarillion, The Hobbit, and The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The creator of Middle earth also created 2 Elvish languages which he used in his books and in poems.

Learn more about Tolkien’s life and achievements in this John Ronald Reuel Tolkien biography:

Early Life and Education

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien aka J.R.R. Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, on the 3rd, January 1892, to English parents. By age 3, Tolkien, his younger brother Hilary and their mother relocated back to England leaving their father who died soon after in South Africa. With the death of the patriarch, the family stayed in England in a quaint home in Sarehole, just outside the city Birmingham.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s family struggled to make ends meet eventually relocating to Moseley a suburb of Birmingham, just northwest of Sarehole. Tolkien was only 12 years old when his mother died. The orphan brothers John and Hilary lived in boarding homes and with relatives thereafter. Tolkien served as a ward to a catholic priest from age 16 till when he was about 20 years old. The earlier parts of Tolkien’s life, his contact with religion after serving as a ward to priests and his adolescent years in Birmingham would be strong influences in his works.

In 1910 and 1911, Tolkien was enrolled in King Edward’s School in Birmingham where he showed great interest in modern and classic languages, a foreboding sign of his future accomplishments in that regard. Also in 1911, Tolkien transferred to Exeter College, Oxford, where he majored in linguistics paying attention to languages such as Old English, Finnish, Welsh, and Germanic languages. He soon began experimenting with creating languages.

Career and Academic Achievements

Tolkien’s career began when he took a job as a lexicographer on the New English Dictionary. Later, he was appointed professor in English at the University of Leeds where he served till 1925 when he joined Oxford as an Anglo-Saxon professor. Tolkien spent the rest of his professional career in Oxford until 1959 when he retired.  

J.R.R. Tolkien was highly fascinated with languages and during his undergraduate, he was already exploring his interest in creating new languages. Tolkien made very few scholarly publications yet his contributions to Philology cannot be under looked. His lecture “Beowulf, the Monsters and the Critics” and his essay on “English and Welsh” helped to transform the understanding the languages and the field of linguistics.

Tolkien was a founding member of the Inklings, a group of Oxford friends bound by their interests in languages and literature. Tolkien’s membership in The Inklings had much impact on his writing. The group provided the budding writer with assistance and served as resources for the literary development of Tolkien’s writing.

Literary Works

How many books did J.R.R. Tolkien write?  Tolkien is recognised not only for his scholarly work and marvellous essays, but also for Middle earth related and philological works. Tolkien wrote over 29 books, some of which were published posthumously. He also contributed to or translated over 36 other books. Comradery, sacrifice, and heroism are recurring themes in his novels; influenced by his time in the army and his faith. The forefather of fantasy wrote and published epic adventure titles including The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings Trilogy, The Silmarillion, The Children of Hurin, The Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth, Bilbo’s Last Song, Farmer Giles of Ham and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and many more.

Visit our homepage for a full list of Tolkien’s literary works.

Personal Life and Legacy

Tolkien met his wife Edith when he was only 16 and serving as a ward to a catholic priest. They married 5 years later in March of 1916 and in November 1917 Edith bore their first son John Francis Reuel. The couple would have two more sons Michael Hilary Reuel (October 1920), and Christopher Reuel (1924). In 1929 Edith gave birth to the pair’s last child and only girl Priscillia. Tolkien was a family man with the habit of writing illustrated letters from Santa Claus for his children every year. He would also tell them several magical bedtime stories. J.R.R. Tolkien was a devout catholic and firmly believed that fairy tales and myths had spiritual and moral values.

Tolkien’s achievements in fantasy writing have significantly influenced subsequent generations of writers who have imitated his style or written in reaction to his works. Ursula Le Guin is one of such authors who published a series of novels which used Tolkienian concepts such as a magical ring, dragons, a quest, and wizards. Internationally acclaimed horror writer Stephen King admitted to Tolkien’s influence in his fantasy series The Dark Tower and The Stand.

On the 2nd of September 1973, J.R.R. Tolkien died but even death did not mean the end of the Middle earth. His son Christopher published several of Tolkien’s works including a 12-volume History of Middle-earth series and The Silmarillion 1977. His books The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings have been adapted to movies by director Peter Jackson. There are also a good number of Tolkienian themed video games and interactive media.

J.R.R. Tolkien has been deceased for over half a century, yet his books and creations remain a testament to the immortality of his creativity, imagination, and spirit. His literary and scholarly works have had lasting impact on modern literature first by giving authority to fantasy as a standalone genre and then inspiring future generations to not only imitate his style but also to explore beyond the limitations of their minds. Characters and plots from Tolkien’s works have inspired movie adaptations, video games and a community of Tolkien enthusiasts who learn his languages. What more is there to say than that Tolkien lived a truly remarkable life? That he was able to explore such deep spaces in his mind and carried us all along on a thrilling adventure through his thoughts which he so beautifully transformed into thought-provoking, exciting, and awe-striking literary masterpieces.

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100 Best Tolkien Books of All Time

We've researched and ranked the best tolkien books in the world, based on recommendations from world experts, sales data, and millions of reader ratings. Learn more

best biography of tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien | 5.00

best biography of tolkien

Richard Branson Today is World Book Day, a wonderful opportunity to address this #ChallengeRichard sent in by Mike Gonzalez of New Jersey: Make a list of your top 65 books to read in a lifetime. (Source)

Cressida Cowell The Hobbit is such a richly imagined fantasy that, especially as a child, you can live in it. It is so completely immersive. (Source)

Lev Grossman First up, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, by JRR Tolkien. But you knew I was going to say that. This one book, which was published in 1937, defined so many variables for the fantasy tradition that are still in place today. Tolkien’s extraordinary achievement was to recover the epic landscapes of Anglo-Saxon myth, bring them back to life, and then to take us through them on foot, so we could... (Source)

See more recommendations for this book...

best biography of tolkien

The Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings, #1-3)

J.R.R. Tolkie | 4.97

best biography of tolkien

Reid Hoffman [The book] that I’ve most often read. (Source)

Elon Musk As a boy in Pretoria, Musk was un dersized and picked upon, a smart-aleck known as Muskrat. In his loneliness, he read a lot of fantasy and science fiction. “The heroes of the books I read, ‘The Lord of the Rings’ and the ‘Foundation’ series, always felt a duty to save the world,” he told me. (Source)

Alan Lee His alternative world and mythological system is totally coherent–it’s a fantastic gift that he has given us. (Source)

best biography of tolkien

The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2)

J. R. R. Tolkien | 4.76

best biography of tolkien

The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3)

J. R. R. Tolkien, Rob Inglis, et al | 4.75

best biography of tolkien

The Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien, Dramatization, Ian Holm | 4.74

best biography of tolkien

The Silmarillion

J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien | 4.68

best biography of tolkien

Lucas Morales My favorite books are Tolkien’s the Lord of the Rings, the Hobbit, and the Silmarillion. In fact these book hold a special place in my memory. In highschool I was so into Tolkien that I delved into linguistics on my own time. I was obsessed with Quenya (Tolkien’s elvish language). I combined that obsession with my mediocre skills as a programmer, and made a sort of dictionary/translator program.... (Source)

best biography of tolkien

Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth

J.R.R. Tolkien | 4.59

best biography of tolkien

The Children of Húrin

J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, Alan Lee | 4.55

best biography of tolkien

Tales from the Perilous Realm

J.R.R. Tolkien | 4.50

best biography of tolkien

Letters from Father Christmas

J R R Tolkien | 4.49

best biography of tolkien

Igreth the Elf Every December an envelope bearing a stamp from the North Pole would arrive for J R R Tolkien’s children. The letters were from Father Christmas. (Source)

Don't have time to read the top Tolkien books of all time? Read Shortform summaries.

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best biography of tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien 4-Book Boxed Set

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien | 4.49

best biography of tolkien

The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, et al. | 4.43

best biography of tolkien

The Book of Lost Tales, Part Two (The History of Middle-earth, #2)

J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien | 4.42

best biography of tolkien

The Book of Lost Tales, Part One (The History of Middle-earth, #1)

J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien | 4.41

best biography of tolkien

The Legend of Sigurd & Gudrún

J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien | 4.40

best biography of tolkien

Rory McTurk Tolkien is mainly known for The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and so on, but he was a Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford and wrote a fair number of scholarly works and articles. The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún is a creative work, consisting of two long poems written in Modern English but mainly in epic metre. Now, the main manuscript in which the eddic poems are preserved is called the Codex... (Source)

best biography of tolkien

Beren and Lúthien

J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, et al. | 4.38

best biography of tolkien

The War of the Ring

The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part Three (The History of Middle-Earth, # 8)

J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien | 4.35

best biography of tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien | 4.34

best biography of tolkien

Tree and Leaf

Includes Mythopoeia and The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth

J.R.R. Tolkien | 4.33

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Morgoth's Ring (The History of Middle-earth, #10)

J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien | 4.33

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The Return of the Shadow

The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part One (The History of Middle-Earth, #6)

J. R. R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien | 4.33

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The Peoples of Middle-earth (The History of Middle-Earth, #12)

Christopher Tolkien | 4.32

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The Lays of Beleriand (The History of Middle-Earth, #3)

J. R. R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien | 4.32

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The Fall of Arthur

J.R.R. Tolkien | 4.32

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A Translation and Commentary, together with Sellic Spell

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The Shaping of Middle-Earth (The History of Middle-Earth, #4)

J. R. R Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien | 4.32

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Sauron Defeated

J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien | 4.32

Charles Dixon, J. R. R. Tolkien, et al. | 4.31

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J.R.R. Tolkien

A Biography

Humphrey Carpenter and J.R.R. Tolkien | 4.31

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The Fall of Gondolin (Middle-Earth Universe)

J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien, Alan Lee | 4.31

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The Lost Road and Other Writings (The History of Middle-Earth, #5)

J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien | 4.31

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The Treason of Isengard

The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part Two (The History of Middle-Earth, #7)

J. R. R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien | 4.30

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Artist and Illustrator

Wayne G. Hammond, Christina Scull, J.R.R. Tolkien | 4.29

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The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book

J. R. R. Tolkien, Roger Garland | 4.29

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The War of the Jewels (The History of Middle-Earth, #11)

J. R. R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien | 4.27

The Atlas of Middle-Earth

Karen Wynn Fonstad | 4.27

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The Languages of Tolkien's Middle-Earth

Ruth S. Noel | 4.26

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Smith of Wootton Major & Farmer Giles of Ham

J. R. R. Tolkien, Derek Jacobi, et al | 4.25

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The Histories of Middle Earth, Volumes 1-5

J.R.R. Tolkien | 4.25

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Tolkien On Fairy-Stories

Verlyn Flieger | 4.25

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Bilbo's Last Song

J. R. R. Tolkien, Pauline Baynes | 4.25

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A Tolkien Bestiary

David Day | 4.25

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo

J.R.R. Tolkien | 4.24

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Farmer Giles of Ham

J. R. R. Tolkien, Christina Scull, Wayne G. Hammond | 4.24

The Complete Guide to Middle-Earth

Robert Foster | 4.23

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The Tolkien Reader

J.R.R. Tolkien | 4.23

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The Road to Middle-Earth

How J.R.R. Tolkien Created A New Mythology

Tom Shippey | 4.21

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The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun

J.R.R. Tolkien and Verlyn Flieger | 4.19

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The Story of Kullervo

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Tolkien's World

Paintings of Middle-Earth

J. R. R. Tolkien | 4.18

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Leaf by Niggle

J.R.R. TOLKIEN | 4.18

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The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

J R R Tolkien | 4.17

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The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays

J. R. R. Tolkien and J.R.R. Tolkien | 4.17

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A Reader's Companion

Wayne G. Hammond, Christina Scull | 4.17

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The History of Middle Earth Index (The History of Middle-Earth, #13)

Christopher Tolkien | 4.17

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Chronicles I

Art & Design

Daniel Falconer | 4.17

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Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit

Corey Olsen | 4.16

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The Art of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien, Christina Scull, Wayne G. Hammond | 4.16

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The Art of the Fellowship of the Ring

Gary Russell | 4.16

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Tolkien and the Great War

The Threshold of Middle-earth

John Garth | 4.15

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J. R. R. Tolkien | 4.15

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Weapons and Warfare

Chris Smith, Christopher Lee | 4.14

Lavishly illustrated with 1,000 photos, paintings, maps, sculptures and sketches, most appearing here for the first time, Weapons and Warfare is an indispensable chronicle of The Lord of the Rings' many creatures, warriors, armies and battlegrounds. From the graceful and proficient Elves to the horrendous war machines of the Dark Lord, each culture's approach to warfare is explained - how they fought, why they were fighting, what armor they wore and what weapons they used against their enemies. Now you can get as close to a marauding Orc as you could ever wish, without suffering the...

Lavishly illustrated with 1,000 photos, paintings, maps, sculptures and sketches, most appearing here for the first time, Weapons and Warfare is an indispensable chronicle of The Lord of the Rings' many creatures, warriors, armies and battlegrounds. From the graceful and proficient Elves to the horrendous war machines of the Dark Lord, each culture's approach to warfare is explained - how they fought, why they were fighting, what armor they wore and what weapons they used against their enemies. Now you can get as close to a marauding Orc as you could ever wish, without suffering the consequences!

Treating the filmmakers' notes, designs and props as a true archive, Weapons and Warfare describes in detail every major conflict depicted in the film trilogy - from The Last Alliance of Elves and Men to the climactic Battle of the Pelennor Fields - each accompanied by a battle diagram from the films' chief designers.

Armed with a wealth of fascinating facts and unique imagery, and with an exclusive foreword by Christopher Lee and an introduction by the Academy Award winner Richard Taylor, Weapons and Warfare promises to be the most striking companion to The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy published to date.

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The History of the Hobbit, Part One

Mr. Baggins

John D. Rateliff | 4.14

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Maker of Middle-earth

Catherine McIlwaine | 4.13

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The Maps of Tolkien's Middle-earth

Brian Sibley, John Howe, J.R.R. Tolkien | 4.13

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The Illustrated Encyclopaedia

David Day | 4.11

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The History of the Hobbit, Part Two

Return to Bag-End

J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff | 4.11

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The End of the Third Age

The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part Four (The History of Middle-earth, #9a)

J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien | 4.10

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Official Movie Guide

Brian Sibley, J.R.R. Tolkien | 4.10

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The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Visual Companion

Jude Fisher | 4.09

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A Gateway to Sindarin

A Grammar of an Elvish Language from JRR Tolkien's Lord of the Rings

David Salo | 4.09

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Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien

Christopher Tolkien, J.R.R. Tolkien | 4.09

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Splintered Light

Logos and Language in Tolkien's World

Verlyn Flieger | 4.08

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The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug - Chronicles III

Weta | 4.07

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Finn and Hengest

The Fragment and the Episode

J R R Tolkien | 4.06

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The Making of the Movie Trilogy

Brian Sibley | 4.06

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An Unexpected Journey - Official Movie Guide

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The Inklings

C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, and Their Friends

Humphrey Carpenter | 4.06

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A Secret Vice

J. R. R. Tolkien, Dimitra Fimi, Andrew Higgins | 4.05

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A Middle-earth Traveller

Sketches from Bag End to Mordor

J. Howe | 4.05

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A Dictionary

David Day | 4.05

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The Art of The Two Towers

Gary Russell, J.R.R. Tolkien | 4.05

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The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

Jude Fisher | 4.05

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The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

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The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings

J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams

Philip Zaleski, Carol Zaleski | 4.05

Glenn Hubbard I have always admired and enjoyed the writings and speeches of C. S. Lewis, the brilliant Christian apologist. Lewis’s ideas, like his carefully constructed sentences seem so fully formed from within. But my interest in Lewis got deeper and broader as I read The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings. The intertwining of Lewis’s work with his relationships with mythmaker J. R. R. Tolkien... (Source)

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Master of Middle-Earth

The Fiction of J.R.R. Tolkien

Paul Harold Kocher, Paul Harold Kocker | 4.04

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The Tolkien Companion

J. E. A. Tyler, S. A. Tyler, Kevin Reilly | 4.04

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The Ring of Words

Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary

Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall, Edmund Weiner | 4.04

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The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey - Chronicles II

Creatures & Characters

Weta | 4.04

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Tolkien and C.S. Lewis

The Gift of a Friendship

Colin Duriez | 4.03

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Interrupted Music

The Making of Tolkien's Mythology

Verlyn Flieger | 4.03

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The Road Goes Ever On

J. R. R. Tolkein, Donald Swann, Samuel Hanks Bryant | 4.03

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The Philosophy of Tolkien

The Worldview Behind The Lord of the Rings

Peter Kreeft | 4.02

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An Unexpected Journey - Visual Companion

Jude Fisher | 4.01

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A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War

How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-18

Joseph Loconte | 4.01

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The Complete Tolkien Companion

J. E. A. Tyler, Kevin Reilly | 4.01

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Journeys of Frodo

An Atlas of J.R.R.Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings"

Barbara Strachey | 4.01

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The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies - Chronicles V

Weta | 4.01

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The Gospel According to Tolkien

Visions of the Kingdom in Middle-Earth

Ralph C. Wood | 4.00

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The Art of the Return of the King

Gary Russell, Peter Jackson | 4.00

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J.R.R. Tolkien and his works

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tolkien's Fiction & Scholarly Work

Tolkien is best known for his fantasy fiction. He began writing The Hobbit on the blank pages at the end of his students' exams, and it was read to his children as bedtime stories. But it was part of an epic fantasy far bigger than any children's fairy-tale...as was seen when The Lord of the Rings was published seventeen years later in 1954-1955. Tolkien died before finishing the Silmarillion, the great history of his imaginary universe. The work was under constant revision (and expansion) through most of his life. His son, Christopher Tolkien, was able to complete it and publish a set of 'histories' of Middle Earth using his father's notes and unfinished manuscripts. These now contain eleven volumes of material from J.R.R. tolkien's notes on the languages, legends, and people of his fictitious universe.

In addition to being one of the preeminent fantasy writers of our century, Tolkien was a scholar of the Anglo-Saxon and Norse languages. He was a translator, critic, and philologist (classical linguist.) He worked as a translator of the Jerusalem Bible and wrote definitions and researched word origins for the Oxford English Dictionary. His works of translation and criticism include Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Beowulf and the Critics.

For more information about his endeavours, please see:

  • Tolkien Bibliography

tolkien's Legacy

J. R. R. tolkien's writing, especially his fiction, has inspired a wealth of scholarly criticism, as well as films, parodies, artwork, and fan clubs. There are now guides and atlases to Middle Earth, literary magazines devoted to Tolkien and his contemporaries, yearly calendars, etc. He has of course inspired many of the fantasy writers of the late twentieth century as well.

For more information about books on the professors other aspects (like writer of letters, artist) and works that show Tolkien is still influencing people today (in every possible country and language) please see:

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  • My Preferences
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  • The Lord of the Rings

J.R.R. Tolkien

  • Literature Notes
  • J.R.R. Tolkien Biography
  • Book Summary
  • The Fellowship of the Ring
  • The Two Towers
  • The Return of the King
  • About The Lord of the Rings Trilogy
  • Character List
  • Summary and Analysis: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Maps, Prologue, and Note on Shire Records
  • Book 1, Chapters 1–6
  • Book 1, Chapters 7–12
  • Book 2, Chapters 1–5
  • Book 2, Chapters 6–10
  • Summary and Analysis: The Two Towers
  • Book 3, Chapters 1–6
  • Book 3, Chapters 7–11
  • Book 4, Chapters 1–6
  • Book 4, Chapters 7–10
  • Summary and Analysis: The Return of the King
  • Book 5, Chapters 1–5
  • Book 5, Chapters 6–10
  • Book 6, Chapters 1–5
  • Book 6, Chapters 6–10
  • Character Analysis
  • Frodo Baggins
  • Gandalf the Grey
  • Character Map
  • Critical Essays
  • This Is Worse Than Mordor!": The Scouring of the Shire as Conclusion"
  • The Temptation of the Ring
  • Full Glossary for The Lord of the Rings
  • Essay Questions
  • Practice Projects
  • Cite this Literature Note

Early Years

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien's early life was marked by loss. Born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, on January 3, 1892, Tolkien lost his father at age four. Life in industrial Birmingham, England, contrasted dramatically with his exotic birthplace. When the family converted to Catholicism, a faith that Tolkien followed throughout his life, relationships with his extended family suffered. When he was twelve, his mother died of diabetes, at the time an untreatable illness. At sixteen, Tolkien met Edith Bratt, a fellow orphan who would later become his wife, but his guardian, Father Francis Morgan, ordered him not to see her until his twenty-first birthday.

Tolkien earned a scholarship to Oxford University and enrolled in 1911, where he studied English language and literature. When he turned 21 in 1913, Tolkien contacted Edith and renewed their romance. In 1915, he completed his studies with a First, the highest level of achievement, and on March 22, 1916, he and Edith were married. War had broken out on the continent while Tolkien was at Oxford, and after graduation, he took up his commission in the Lancashire Fusiliers. He survived the Battle of the Somme, one of the harshest battles of World War I, and returned to England suffering from trench fever. Millions of young men, including many of Tolkien's boyhood friends, did not come home.

A Scholar's Life

Tolkien's first job after the war was researching word origins for the Oxford English Dictionary . He soon found a position as Reader of English language at the University of Leeds in 1920, and in 1924, the university appointed him Professor. In 1925, he returned to Oxford University as Professor of Anglo-Saxon at the remarkably young age of 33. Tolkien was an excellent teacher, and his dramatic lectures on Beowulf were legendary. His academic writing includes a translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and his landmark essays "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" and "On Fairy-Stories." In 1945, he became Merton Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford, and he continued in that position until his retirement.

Tolkien and his wife, Edith, had four children: sons John, Michael, and Christopher and daughter Priscilla, born between 1917 and 1929. The family lived quietly in Oxford while Tolkien pursued his academic studies and personal writing. John eventually entered the priesthood. Michael and Christopher both served in World War II, later becoming educators, and Priscilla was a social worker. Christopher, who followed in his father's footsteps as a university lecturer, also oversees Tolkien's literary estate and has edited many volumes of his father's notes.

Tolkien also enjoyed an active social life with his colleagues at the university. He became a founding member of the all-male club known as the Inklings, who met frequently to talk, drink beer at the local taverns, and discuss writing. Members included many authors, most famously C.S. Lewis, who wrote The Chronicles of Narnia. For many years, they convened at least once a week to read both their favorite literature and their own works in progress. This group became the first critical audience for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Fantasy and Fame

From an early age, Tolkien pursued an active life of the imagination. In childhood, he and his brother Hilary would play at vanquishing evil dragons, and Tolkien added to his early mastery of Greek, Latin, Gothic, and Finnish, a talent for inventing languages of his own. As a young man, he tried his hand at poetry, going so far as to publish a few pieces, but by the time he returned from the War, he had begun an ambitious collection of loosely connected stories, poems, and songs that told the history and legends of the elves, eventually known as The Silmarillion. After his children were born, he began enthusiastically telling them stories, many of which he wrote down. For many years, he carefully composed and illustrated letters for his children from Father Christmas, detailing life and adventures in the frozen north.

Then, while he was grading exam papers during the summer holiday to supplement his professor's salary, Tolkien wrote on a fortuitously blank page what became one of the most well-known opening sentences in English literature: "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." In trying to answer, for himself, the question of what exactly a hobbit might be, Tolkien composed the delightful story of Bilbo Baggins, a stay-at-home little hobbit who goes off on an adventure and comes back with both greater maturity and a magic ring. In 1937, the story was published by Allen and Unwin as The Hobbit.

Much to Tolkien's surprise, The Hobbit became a successful children's book, receiving favorable reviews on both sides of the Atlantic. Naturally, the publisher requested a follow up. To their dismay, it took Tolkien seventeen years to produce the requested sequel (with another world war intervening), and the result was not another delightful children's story, but an epic saga of heroic struggle against evil that was over a thousand pages long. Nevertheless, The Lord of the Rings was published in three volumes in 1954 and 1955. The books received mixed reviews, ranging from the glowing words of C.S. Lewis and W.H. Auden to a complete dismissal by Edmund Wilson.

The books sold well, but neither the publisher nor the professor was prepared for the cultural phenomenon that The Lord of the Rings became. When a pirated Ace paperback edition in 1965 propelled the novels to cult status, the 73-year-old Tolkien found himself in the remarkable position of being both a retired Oxford professor and a hero of the counterculture. Until his death on September 2, 1973, Tolkien remained both flattered and puzzled by the adulation of his fans.

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COMMENTS

  1. J.R.R. Tolkien

    Famous Authors & Writers Famous British People J.R.R. Tolkien J.R.R. Tolkien is an internationally renowned fantasy writer. He is best known for authoring 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord of the...

  2. Tom Shippey's top 10 books on JRR Tolkien

    1. The Silmarillion edited by Christopher Tolkien (Grafton Books, £6.99) Tolkien's elvish mythology, which he had been working on for most of his life but never finished, was eventually edited...

  3. J.R.R. Tolkien

    September 2, 1973, Bournemouth, Hampshire, England (aged 81) Notable Works: "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book" "Farmer Giles of Ham" "Mr. Bliss" "Roverandom" "Smith of Wootton Major" "The Fellowship of the Ring" "The Hobbit" "The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún" "The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien" "The Lord of the Rings"

  4. Biography

    Back to The Author J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biographical Sketch By David Doughan MBE Who was Tolkien? Photo by Pamela Chandler. © Diana Willson. Used with permission. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973) was a major scholar of the English language, specialising in Old and Middle English.

  5. Tolkienists

    19 February 2021 | Luke Shelton PhD | Luke Shelton There are so many books that propose to be authoritative and essential to studying Tolkien and/ or Middle-earth that I thought it might be helpful for me to put together a list of recommended books.

  6. Five Seriously Excellent Books about J.R.R. Tolkien

    1. J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter This was the first full-length, authorized biography of J. R. R. Tolkien and to this day it may be the best. Tolkien is a difficult man to chronicle because, with the exception of his military service (see pick 4 below), he lived, quite honestly, a very boring life.

  7. J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter

    Humphrey Carpenter. The authorized biography of the creator of Middle-earth. In the decades since his death in September 1973, millions have read THE HOBBIT, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, and THE SILMARILLION and become fascinated about the very private man behind the books. Born in South Africa in January 1892, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was orphaned ...

  8. Books about Tolkien

    George Allen and Unwin, London. 1981. Tolkien and the Great War. John Garth. HarperCollins, London. 2002. The Roots of Tolkien's Middle Earth. Robert S. Blackham. The History Press Ltd, Stroud. 2006. Tolkien's Oxford. Robert S. Blackham. The History Press Ltd, Stroud. 2008. Tolkien and the Peril of War. Robert S. Blackham.

  9. Biography

    Childhood John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on 3rd January 1892 in Bloemfontein, in the Orange Free State (now South Africa), to Arthur and Mabel Tolkien. His parents, both originally from Birmingham, had moved to South Africa so that Arthur could pursue his career in banking.

  10. J.R.R. Tolkien Biography & Facts: Books, Quotes, and Movie

    The mind behind The Lord of the Rings and various other works set in Middle-earth has inspired generations of creators and helped establish the high-fantasy genre as one of the most powerful in the...

  11. J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography

    J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography is a biography book by Humphrey Carpenter.It is the official, authorized biography of J.R.R. Tolkien.First published in 1977, It has been reprinted many times since.. The Tolkien scholar Tom Shippey writes that even though the biography came out before most of the posthumous publications edited by Christopher Tolkien, "it has worn very well", telling of Tolkien's ...

  12. J.R.R. Tolkien Biography

    Tolkien Biography. Philologist, author, mythmaker and creator of "Middle Earth" Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University, a brilliant philologist, and a self-described "hobbit," J.R.R. Tolkien created two of the best-loved stories of the 20th century, "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings", recently made into a multiple award-winning movie by the director Peter Jackson for New Line Cinema.

  13. J. R. R. Tolkien

    John Ronald Reuel Tolkien CBE FRSL ( / ˈruːl ˈtɒlkiːn /, ROOL TOL-keen; [a] 3 January 1892 - 2 September 1973) was an English writer and philologist. He was the author of the high fantasy works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings .

  14. J.r.r. Tolkien: A Biography: Carpenter, Humphrey: 9780618057023: Amazon

    The authorized biography of the creator of Middle-earth. In the decades since his death in September 1973, millions have read THE HOBBIT, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, and THE SILMARILLION and become fascinated about the very private man behind the books. Born in South Africa in January 1892, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was orphaned in childhood and ...

  15. I want to learn more about Tolkien. What books about ...

    The best book to start with in your quest to learn more about J.R.R. Tolkien is the authorized biography by Humphrey Carpenter. In the decades since his death in September 1973, millions have read The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion and become fascinated about the very private man, the creator, behind the books.

  16. Biography of J.R.R. Tolkien: Creator of Middle-Earth

    John Ronald Reuel Tolkien aka J.R.R. Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, on the 3rd, January 1892, to English parents. By age 3, Tolkien, his younger brother Hilary and their mother relocated back to England leaving their father who died soon after in South Africa. With the death of the patriarch, the family stayed in England in a ...

  17. 100 Best Tolkien Books of All Time (Updated for 2021)

    1 The Hobbit J. R. R. Tolkien | 5.00 Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely traveling any farther than his pantry or cellar. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard Gandalf and a company of dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an adventure.

  18. J.R.R. Tolkien Biography and Bibliography

    Tolkien Biography ; tolkien's Fiction & Scholarly Work. Tolkien is best known for his fantasy fiction. He began writing The Hobbit on the blank pages at the end of his students' exams, and it was read to his children as bedtime stories. But it was part of an epic fantasy far bigger than any children's fairy-tale...as was seen when The Lord of ...

  19. J.R.R. Tolkien Biography

    A Scholar's Life Tolkien's first job after the war was researching word origins for the Oxford English Dictionary. He soon found a position as Reader of English language at the University of Leeds in 1920, and in 1924, the university appointed him Professor.

  20. The Real J.R.R. Tolkien: The Man Who Created Middle-Earth

    3.52. 71 ratings49 reviews. The Real JRR Tolkien: The Man Who Created Middle Earth is a comprehensive biography of the linguist and writer; taking the reader from his formative years of home-schooling, through the spires of Oxford, to his romance with his wife-to-be on the brink of war, and onwards into his phenomenal academic success and his ...

  21. Luke Shelton PhD

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  22. Best Tolkien Biography : r/tolkienfans

    Best Tolkien Biography . I'm looking to read a biography about Tolkien that will help me get inside his head as a writer. I know that he has a lot of letters and documents about his thought process, but I'm not sure I'd be interested enough to read all of them. If you've read a good Tolkien biography, let me know.

  23. J.R.R. Tolkien: The Father of Modern Fantasy

    Life Facts. J.R.R. Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, in January of 1892. In 1911 he enrolled at Exeter College, Oxford. He started working for the Oxford English Dictionary in 1920. In 1961 he was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Tolkien died in September of 1973 from a bleeding ulcer and chest infection.