(COLORADO) — J.R.R. Tolkien, author of “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” among other things, would celebrate his eleventy-first-plus-twenty birthday today were he still alive.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in 1892 in Bloemfontein, South Africa, and later settled in England with his mother and younger brother after his father died according to biography.com. His mother died in 1904 leaving him and his brother to live with relatives and in boarding homes.
Biography.com said, “Tolkien went on to get his first-class degree at Exeter College, specializing in Anglo-Saxon and Germanic languages and classic literature.”
Tolkien served in World War I and that experience informed his writing in “The Lord of the Rings.” His grandson, Simon Tolkien, spoke with the BBC in 2017 and talked about his grandfather’s time in the war.
“I went back to The Lord of the Rings and realized how much his grand conception had to have been informed by the horrors of the trenches. Evil in Middle Earth is above all industrialized. Sauron’s orcs are brutalized workers; Saruman has ‘a mind of metal and wheels’; and the desolate moonscapes of Mordor and Isengard are eerily reminiscent of the no man’s land of 1916,” Simon Tolkien said.
He spoke about the relationship between Sam and Frodo showing the “deep bonds between British soldiers” through the shared traumatic experiences. Simon Tolkien said, “Frodo shares the fate of many veterans who remain scarred by invisible wounds when they return home, pale shadows of the people that they once were.”
Tolkien’s first work was “The Hobbit” which was published in 1937 and was considered a children’s book though it wasn’t written for children. “The Lord of the Rings” was also meant to be one continuous story according to the biography on Britannica.com.
The Tolkien Society’s biography of Tolkien said, “In 1936 an incomplete typescript of it came into the hands of Susan Dagnall, an employee of the publishing firm of George Allen and Unwin… She asked Tolkien to finish it, and presented the complete story to Stanley Unwin, the then Chairman of the firm. He tried it out on his 10-year-old son Rayner, who wrote an approving report, and it was published as The Hobbit in 1937.”
Some of Tolkien’s other works include:
- Farmer Giles of Ham (1949)
- The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book (1962)
- Tree and Leaf (1964)
- Smith of Wootton Major (1967)
“The Silmarillion” was published posthumously after his youngest son, Christopher Tolkien, edited it. Christopher also produced “Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth” in 1980, “The History of Middle-earth” which is 12 volumes from 1983 to 1996, and “The Children of Húrin” in 2007.
Other posthumous works by Tolkien include:
- The Father Christmas Letters (1976)
- The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (1981)
- Mr. Bliss (1982)
- Roverandom (1998)
- The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún (2009)
Tolkien was a Catholic who took his faith seriously and was at least partly responsible for C.S Lewis returning to Christianity. He was also an accomplished linguist who invented the elvish language from “The Lord of the Rings.” He wrote a few scholarly publications that were “often extremely influential” per the Tolkien Society,