J. R. R. Tolkien
Overview
 
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 (3 January 1892 2 September 1973) was an English writer, poet, philologist
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy
High fantasy
High fantasy or epic fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy that is set in invented or parallel worlds. High fantasy was brought to fruition through the work of authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, whose major fantasy works were published in the 1950s...

 works The Hobbit
The Hobbit
The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, better known by its abbreviated title The Hobbit, is a fantasy novel and children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald...

, The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings is a high fantasy epic written by English philologist and University of Oxford professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit , but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in...

, and The Silmarillion
The Silmarillion
The Silmarillion is a collection of J. R. R. Tolkien's mythopoeic works, edited and published posthumously by his son Christopher Tolkien in 1977, with assistance from Guy Gavriel Kay, who later became a noted fantasy writer. The Silmarillion, along with J. R. R...

.

Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon
Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon
The Rawlinson and Bosworth Professorship of Anglo-Saxon, until 1916 known as the Rawlinsonian Professorship of Anglo-Saxon, was established by Richard Rawlinson of St. John's College, Oxford, in 1795. The Chair is associated with Pembroke College. 'Bosworth' was added to commemorate Joseph...

 at Pembroke College, Oxford
Pembroke College, Oxford
Pembroke College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England, located in Pembroke Square. As of 2009, Pembroke had an estimated financial endowment of £44.9 million.-History:...

, from 1925 to 1945 and Merton Professor of English Language and Literature
Merton Professors
There are two Merton Professorships of English in the University of Oxford: the Merton Professor of English Language and Literature, and the Merton Professor of English Literature. The second was created in 1914 when Sir Walter Raleigh's chair was renamed...

 there from 1945 to 1959. He was a close friend of C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis
Clive Staples Lewis , commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as "Jack", was a novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland...

—they were both members of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings
Inklings
The Inklings was an informal literary discussion group associated with the University of Oxford, England, for nearly two decades between the early 1930s and late 1949. The Inklings were literary enthusiasts who praised the value of narrative in fiction, and encouraged the writing of fantasy...

.
Quotations

My advice to all who have the time or inclination to concern themselves with the international language movement would be: 'Back Esperanto loyally.'

"A Philologist on Esperanto" in The British Esperantist (May 1932).

Nearly all marriages, even happy ones, are mistakes: in the sense that almost certainly (in a more perfect world, or even with a little more care in this very imperfect one) both partners might be found more suitable mates. But the real soul-mate is the one you are actually married to.

Letter to Michael Tolkien (March 1941)

There was a solemn article in the local paper seriously advocating systematic exterminating of the entire German nation as the only proper course after military victory: because, if you please, they are rattlesnakes, and don't know the difference between good and evil! (What of the writer?) The Germans have just as much right to declare the Poles and Jews exterminable vermin, subhuman, as we have to select the Germans: in other words, no right, whatever they have done.

Letter (September 1944)

That story was the only thing I have ever done which cost me absolutely no pains at all. Usually I compose only with great difficulty and endless rewriting. I woke up one day (more than 2 years ago) with that odd thing virtually complete in my head. It took only a few hours to get down, and then copy out.

About "Leaf by Niggle|Leaf by Niggle", in a letter to Stanley Unwin (publisher)|Stanley Unwin (18 March 1945)

I should say that, in addition to my tree-love (it was originally called The Tree), it arose from my own pre-occupation with the Lord of the Rings, the knowledge that it would be finished in great detail or not at all, and the fear (near certainty) that it would be 'not at all'. The war had arisen to darken all horizons. But no such analyses are a complete explanation even of a short story...

About "Leaf by Niggle|Leaf by Niggle", in a letter to Caroline Everett (24 June 1957)

I have the hatred of Apartheid|apartheid in my bones...

Valedictory address to the University of Oxford (1959)

And lastly there is the oldest and deepest desire, the Great Escape: the Escape from Death. Fairy-stories provide many examples and modes of this ... Fairy-stories are made by men not by fairies. The Human-stories of the elves are doubtless full of the Escape from Deathlessness.

I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which 'Escape' is now so often used. Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?

Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker.

Encyclopedia
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 (3 January 1892 2 September 1973) was an English writer, poet, philologist
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy
High fantasy
High fantasy or epic fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy that is set in invented or parallel worlds. High fantasy was brought to fruition through the work of authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, whose major fantasy works were published in the 1950s...

 works The Hobbit
The Hobbit
The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, better known by its abbreviated title The Hobbit, is a fantasy novel and children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald...

, The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings is a high fantasy epic written by English philologist and University of Oxford professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit , but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in...

, and The Silmarillion
The Silmarillion
The Silmarillion is a collection of J. R. R. Tolkien's mythopoeic works, edited and published posthumously by his son Christopher Tolkien in 1977, with assistance from Guy Gavriel Kay, who later became a noted fantasy writer. The Silmarillion, along with J. R. R...

.

Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon
Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon
The Rawlinson and Bosworth Professorship of Anglo-Saxon, until 1916 known as the Rawlinsonian Professorship of Anglo-Saxon, was established by Richard Rawlinson of St. John's College, Oxford, in 1795. The Chair is associated with Pembroke College. 'Bosworth' was added to commemorate Joseph...

 at Pembroke College, Oxford
Pembroke College, Oxford
Pembroke College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England, located in Pembroke Square. As of 2009, Pembroke had an estimated financial endowment of £44.9 million.-History:...

, from 1925 to 1945 and Merton Professor of English Language and Literature
Merton Professors
There are two Merton Professorships of English in the University of Oxford: the Merton Professor of English Language and Literature, and the Merton Professor of English Literature. The second was created in 1914 when Sir Walter Raleigh's chair was renamed...

 there from 1945 to 1959. He was a close friend of C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis
Clive Staples Lewis , commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as "Jack", was a novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland...

—they were both members of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings
Inklings
The Inklings was an informal literary discussion group associated with the University of Oxford, England, for nearly two decades between the early 1930s and late 1949. The Inklings were literary enthusiasts who praised the value of narrative in fiction, and encouraged the writing of fantasy...

. Tolkien was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

 on 28 March 1972.

After his death, Tolkien's son Christopher
Christopher Tolkien
Christopher Reuel Tolkien is the third and youngest son of the author J. R. R. Tolkien , and is best known as the editor of much of his father's posthumously published work. He drew the original maps for his father's The Lord of the Rings, which he signed C. J. R. T. The J...

 published a series of works based on his father's extensive notes and unpublished manuscripts, including The Silmarillion. These, together with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings form a connected body of tales, poems, fictional histories, invented languages, and literary essays about a fantasy world called Arda
Arda
In J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium, Arda is the name given to the Earth in a period of prehistory, wherein the places mentioned in The Lord of the Rings and related material once existed...

, and Middle-earth
Middle-earth
Middle-earth is the fictional setting of the majority of author J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy writings. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place entirely in Middle-earth, as does much of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales....

 within it. Between 1951 and 1955, Tolkien applied the term legendarium
Legendarium
Legendary may refer to:*A hagiography, or study of the lives of saints and other religious figures**The South English Legendary, a Middle English legendary*A legend-Entertainment:*Legendary, an album by Kaysha*Legendary...

to the larger part of these writings.

While many other authors had published works of fantasy before Tolkien, the great success of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings led directly to a popular resurgence of the genre
Works inspired by J. R. R. Tolkien
The works of J. R. R. Tolkien have served as the inspiration topainters, musicians, film-makers and writers, to such an extent that Tolkien is sometimes seen as the "father" of the entire genre of high fantasy. The production of such derivative works is sometimes of doubtful legality, because...

. This has caused Tolkien to be popularly identified as the "father" of modern fantasy literature—or, more precisely, of high fantasy
High fantasy
High fantasy or epic fantasy is a subgenre of fantasy that is set in invented or parallel worlds. High fantasy was brought to fruition through the work of authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis, whose major fantasy works were published in the 1950s...

. In 2008, The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

ranked him sixth on a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". Forbes
Forbes
Forbes is an American publishing and media company. Its flagship publication, the Forbes magazine, is published biweekly. Its primary competitors in the national business magazine category are Fortune, which is also published biweekly, and Business Week...

ranked him the 5th top-earning dead celebrity in 2009.

Tolkien family origins

Most of Tolkien's paternal ancestors were craftsmen. The Tolkien family had its roots in Lower Saxony
Lower Saxony
Lower Saxony is a German state situated in north-western Germany and is second in area and fourth in population among the sixteen states of Germany...

, but had been living in England since the 18th century, becoming "quickly intensely English". The surname Tolkien is said to come from the German
German language
German is a West Germanic language, related to and classified alongside English and Dutch. With an estimated 90 – 98 million native speakers, German is one of the world's major languages and is the most widely-spoken first language in the European Union....

 word tollkühn ("foolhardy"). German writers have suggested that in reality the name is more likely to derive from the village Tolkynen, near Rastenburg, East Prussia
East Prussia
East Prussia is the main part of the region of Prussia along the southeastern Baltic Coast from the 13th century to the end of World War II in May 1945. From 1772–1829 and 1878–1945, the Province of East Prussia was part of the German state of Prussia. The capital city was Königsberg.East Prussia...

. The name of that place is derived from the now extinct Old Prussian language
Old Prussian language
Prussian is an extinct Baltic language, once spoken by the inhabitants of the original territory of Prussia in an area of what later became East Prussia and eastern parts of...

.

Tolkien's maternal grandparents, John and Edith Jane Suffield, were Baptists who lived in Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

 and owned a shop in the city centre. The Suffield family had run various businesses out of the same building, called Lamb House, since the early 19th century. From 1810 Tolkien's great-great-grandfather William Suffield had a book and stationery shop there; from 1826 Tolkien's great-grandfather, also named John Suffield, had a drapery
Drapery
Drapery is a general word referring to cloths or textiles . It may refer to cloth used for decorative purposes – such as around windows – or to the trade of retailing cloth, originally mostly for clothing, formerly conducted by drapers.In art history, drapery refers to any cloth or...

 and hosiery
Hosiery
Hosiery, also referred to as legwear, describes garments worn directly on the feet and legs. The term originated as the collective term for products of which a maker or seller is termed a hosier; and those products are also known generically as hose...

 business there.

Childhood

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on 3 January 1892 in Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein
Bloemfontein is the capital city of the Free State Province of South Africa; and, as the judicial capital of the nation, one of South Africa's three national capitals – the other two being Cape Town, the legislative capital, and Pretoria, the administrative capital.Bloemfontein is popularly and...

 in the Orange Free State
Orange Free State
The Orange Free State was an independent Boer republic in southern Africa during the second half of the 19th century, and later a British colony and a province of the Union of South Africa. It is the historical precursor to the present-day Free State province...

 (now Free State Province, part of South Africa) to Arthur Reuel Tolkien (1857–1896), an English bank manager, and his wife Mabel, née Suffield (1870–1904). The couple had left England when Arthur was promoted to head the Bloemfontein office of the British bank for which he worked. Tolkien had one sibling, his younger brother, Hilary Arthur Reuel, who was born on 17 February 1894.

As a child, Tolkien was bitten by a large baboon spider in the garden, an event which some think would have later echoes in his stories, although Tolkien admitted no actual memory of the event and no special hatred of spiders as an adult. In another incident, a family house-boy, who thought Tolkien a beautiful child, took the baby to his kraal
Kraal
Kraal is an Afrikaans and Dutch word for an enclosure for cattle or other livestock, located within an African settlement or village surrounded by a palisade, mud wall, or other fencing, roughly circular in form.In the Dutch language a kraal is a term derived from the Portuguese word , cognate...

 to show him off, returning him the next morning.

When he was three, Tolkien went to England with his mother and brother on what was intended to be a lengthy family visit. His father, however, died in South Africa of rheumatic fever
Rheumatic fever
Rheumatic fever is an inflammatory disease that occurs following a Streptococcus pyogenes infection, such as strep throat or scarlet fever. Believed to be caused by antibody cross-reactivity that can involve the heart, joints, skin, and brain, the illness typically develops two to three weeks after...

 before he could join them. This left the family without an income, and so Tolkien's mother took him to live with her parents in Kings Heath
Kings Heath
Kings Heath is a suburb of Birmingham, England, five miles south of the city centre. It is the next suburb south from Moseley on the Alcester Road.-History:...

, Birmingham. Soon after, in 1896, they moved to Sarehole
Sarehole
Sarehole is an area in Hall Green, Birmingham, England . Sarehole, a name no longer used in addresses, was a hamlet which gave its name to a farm and a mill. It extended from the ford at Green Lane, southwards for about a mile, along the River Cole to the Dingles...

 (now in Hall Green
Hall Green
Not to be confused with Hall Green, Wolverhampton or Hall Green, SandwellHall Green is an area and ward in south Birmingham, England. It is also a council constituency, managed by its own district committee...

), then a Worcestershire
Worcestershire
Worcestershire is a non-metropolitan county, established in antiquity, located in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes it is a NUTS 3 region and is one of three counties that comprise the "Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire" NUTS 2 region...

 village, later annexed to Birmingham. He enjoyed exploring Sarehole Mill
Sarehole Mill
Sarehole Mill is a Grade II listed water mill on the River Cole in Hall Green, Birmingham, England. It is now run as a museum by the Birmingham City Council. It is one of only two working water mills in Birmingham, with the other being New Hall Mill in Walmley, Sutton Coldfield.Built in 1542 on...

 and Moseley Bog
Moseley Bog
Moseley Bog is a nature reserve in the Moseley area of Birmingham in England, at .It was once a secondary reservoir to feed the millpond of Sarehole Mill. Although now drained, the embankment on its eastern side remains...

 and the Clent
Clent Hills
The Clent Hills lie 9⅓ miles southwest of Birmingham city centre in Clent, Worcestershire, England. The closest towns are Stourbridge and Halesowen, both in the West Midlands conurbation. The Clent Hills range consists of, in order from north-west to south-east: Wychbury Hill, Clent Hill , and...

, Lickey
Lickey Hills
The Lickey Hills are a range of hills in Worcestershire, England, eleven miles to the south-west of the centre of Birmingham near the villages of Lickey and Barnt Green...

 and Malvern Hills
Malvern Hills
The Malvern Hills are a range of hills in the English counties of Worcestershire, Herefordshire and a small area of northern Gloucestershire, dominating the surrounding countryside and the towns and villages of the district of Malvern...

, which would later inspire scenes in his books, along with Worcestershire towns and villages such as Bromsgrove
Bromsgrove
Bromsgrove is a town in Worcestershire, England. The town is about north east of Worcester and south west of Birmingham city centre. It had a population of 29,237 in 2001 with a small ethnic minority and is in Bromsgrove District.- History :Bromsgrove is first documented in the early 9th century...

, Alcester
Alcester
Alcester is an old market town of Roman origin at the junction of the River Alne and River Arrow in Warwickshire, England. It is situated approximately west of Stratford-upon-Avon, and 8 miles south of Redditch, close to the Worcestershire border...

, and Alvechurch
Alvechurch
Alvechurch is a large village and civil parish of Bromsgrove district, in the northeast of the county of Worcestershire, England. Lying in the valley of the River Arrow, the nearest city is Birmingham, 17 km / 11 miles to the north, with the closest towns being Redditch, 8 km / 5 miles...

 and places such as his aunt Jane's farm of Bag End, the name of which would be used in his fiction.
Mabel Tolkien herself taught her two sons, and Ronald, as he was known in the family, was a keen pupil. She taught him a great deal of botany
Botany
Botany, plant science, or plant biology is a branch of biology that involves the scientific study of plant life. Traditionally, botany also included the study of fungi, algae and viruses...

 and awakened in him the enjoyment of the look and feel of plants. Young Tolkien liked to draw landscapes and trees, but his favourite lessons were those concerning languages, and his mother taught him the rudiments of Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

 very early. He could read by the age of four and could write fluently soon afterwards. His mother allowed him to read many books. He disliked Treasure Island
Treasure Island
Treasure Island is an adventure novel by Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson, narrating a tale of "pirates and buried gold". First published as a book on May 23, 1883, it was originally serialized in the children's magazine Young Folks between 1881–82 under the title Treasure Island; or, the...

and The Pied Piper and thought Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells of a girl named Alice who falls down a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures...

by Lewis Carroll
Lewis Carroll
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson , better known by the pseudonym Lewis Carroll , was an English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican deacon and photographer. His most famous writings are Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and its sequel Through the Looking-Glass, as well as the poems "The Hunting of the...

 was "amusing but disturbing". He liked stories about "Red Indians"
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

 and the fantasy works by George MacDonald
George MacDonald
George MacDonald was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister.Known particularly for his poignant fairy tales and fantasy novels, George MacDonald inspired many authors, such as W. H. Auden, J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, E. Nesbit and Madeleine L'Engle. It was C.S...

. In addition, the "Fairy Books" of Andrew Lang
Andrew Lang
Andrew Lang was a Scots poet, novelist, literary critic, and contributor to the field of anthropology. He is best known as a collector of folk and fairy tales. The Andrew Lang lectures at the University of St Andrews are named after him.- Biography :Lang was born in Selkirk...

 were particularly important to him and their influence is apparent in some of his later writings.

Tolkien attended King Edward's School, Birmingham
King Edward's School, Birmingham
King Edward's School is an independent secondary school in Birmingham, England, founded by King Edward VI in 1552. It is part of the Foundation of the Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham, and is widely regarded as one of the most academically successful schools in the country, according to...

, and later St. Philip's School
St. Philip's School
St. Philip's RC Grammar School was a Roman Catholic grammar school for boys located on Hagley Road in Birmingham, England.-History:St Philip's was founded when two priests of the Birmingham Oratory took over an existing Catholic Grammar School in 1887...

, before winning a Foundation Scholarship and returning to King Edward's School. While a pupil at King Edward's School, he was one of a party of cadets from the school's Officers Training Corps who helped "line the route" for the coronation
Coronation
A coronation is a ceremony marking the formal investiture of a monarch and/or their consort with regal power, usually involving the placement of a crown upon their head and the presentation of other items of regalia...

 parade of King George V
George V of the United Kingdom
George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through the First World War until his death in 1936....

, being posted just outside the gates of Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, in London, is the principal residence and office of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality...

.

Mabel Tolkien was received into the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 in 1900 despite vehement protests by her Baptist family, who then stopped all financial assistance to her. In 1904, when Tolkien was 12, she died of acute diabetes at Fern Cottage in Rednal
Rednal
Rednal is a residential suburb on the south western edge of metropolitan Birmingham, West Midlands, England, 9 miles south west of Birmingham city centre and forming part of Longbridge parish and electoral ward....

, which she was then renting. Mabel Tolkien was then about 34 years of age, about as old as a person with diabetes mellitus type 1
Diabetes mellitus type 1
Diabetes mellitus type 1 is a form of diabetes mellitus that results from autoimmune destruction of insulin-producing beta cells of the pancreas. The subsequent lack of insulin leads to increased blood and urine glucose...

 could live with no treatment—insulin
Insulin
Insulin is a hormone central to regulating carbohydrate and fat metabolism in the body. Insulin causes cells in the liver, muscle, and fat tissue to take up glucose from the blood, storing it as glycogen in the liver and muscle....

 would not be discovered until two decades later. Nine years after his mother's death, Tolkien wrote, "My own dear mother was a martyr indeed, and it is not to everybody that God grants so easy a way to his great gifts as he did to Hilary and myself, giving us a mother who killed herself with labour and trouble to ensure us keeping the faith."

Prior to her death, Mabel Tolkien had assigned the guardianship of her sons to Fr. Francis Xavier Morgan of the Birmingham Oratory
Birmingham Oratory
The Birmingham Oratory is a Catholic oratory and church, on the Hagley Road, in the Birmingham suburb of Edgbaston in England.-History:The church was constructed between 1907 and 1910 in the Baroque style as a memorial to Cardinal Newman, founder of the English Oratory...

, who was assigned to bring them up as good Catholics. Tolkien grew up in the Edgbaston
Edgbaston
Edgbaston is an area in the city of Birmingham in England. It is also a formal district, managed by its own district committee. The constituency includes the smaller Edgbaston ward and the wards of Bartley Green, Harborne and Quinton....

 area of Birmingham. He lived there in the shadow of Perrott's Folly
Perrott's Folly
Perrott's Folly, , also known as The Monument, or The Observatory, is a 29-metre tall tower, built in 1758. It is a Grade II* listed building in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham, England.-History:...

 and the Victorian
Victorian architecture
The term Victorian architecture refers collectively to several architectural styles employed predominantly during the middle and late 19th century. The period that it indicates may slightly overlap the actual reign, 20 June 1837 – 22 January 1901, of Queen Victoria. This represents the British and...

 tower of Edgbaston Waterworks
Edgbaston Waterworks
Edgbaston Waterworks lies to the east of Edgbaston Reservoir, two miles west of the centre of Birmingham, England....

, which may have influenced the images of the dark towers within his works. Another strong influence was the romantic
Romanticism
Romanticism was an artistic, literary and intellectual movement that originated in the second half of the 18th century in Europe, and gained strength in reaction to the Industrial Revolution...

 medievalist paintings of Edward Burne-Jones
Edward Burne-Jones
Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, 1st Baronet was a British artist and designer closely associated with the later phase of the Pre-Raphaelite movement, who worked closely with William Morris on a wide range of decorative arts as a founding partner in Morris, Marshall, Faulkner, and Company...

 and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood was a group of English painters, poets, and critics, founded in 1848 by William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais and Dante Gabriel Rossetti...

; the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has a large and world-renowned collection of works and had put it on free public display from around 1908.

Youth

In 1911, while they were at King Edward's School, Birmingham
King Edward's School, Birmingham
King Edward's School is an independent secondary school in Birmingham, England, founded by King Edward VI in 1552. It is part of the Foundation of the Schools of King Edward VI in Birmingham, and is widely regarded as one of the most academically successful schools in the country, according to...

, Tolkien and three friends, Rob Gilson, Geoffrey Smith, and Christopher Wiseman, formed a semi-secret society which they called "the T.C.B.S.", the initials standing for "Tea Club and Barrovian Society", alluding to their fondness for drinking tea in Barrow's Stores near the school and, secretly, in the school library. After leaving school, the members stayed in touch, and in December 1914 they held a "Council" in London, at Wiseman's home. For Tolkien, the result of this meeting was a strong dedication to writing poetry.

The 1911 census of England & Wales shows Tolkien (occupation "school") lodging at 4 Highfield Road, Edgbaston, along with his brother Hilary (occupation "hardware merchant's clerk").

In the summer of 1911, Tolkien went on holiday in Switzerland, a trip that he recollects vividly in a 1968 letter, noting that Bilbo
Bilbo Baggins
Bilbo Baggins is the protagonist and titular character of The Hobbit and a supporting character in The Lord of the Rings, two of the most well-known of J. R. R...

's journey across the Misty Mountains
Misty Mountains
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy world of Middle-earth, the Misty Mountains is a mountain range, running for 795 miles from north to south, between Eriador and the valley of the Great River, Anduin, and...

 ("including the glissade down the slithering stones into the pine woods") is directly based on his adventures as their party of 12 hiked from Interlaken
Interlaken
Interlaken is a municipality in the Interlaken-Oberhasli administrative district in the Canton of Bern in Switzerland, a well-known tourist destination in the Bernese Oberland.-History:...

 to Lauterbrunnen
Lauterbrunnen
Lauterbrunnen is a municipality in the Interlaken-Oberhasli administrative district in the canton of Bern in Switzerland.The municipality lies in the Lauterbrunnen Valley and comprises the villages Lauterbrunnen, Wengen, Mürren, Gimmelwald, Stechelberg and Isenfluh...

 and on to camp in the moraine
Moraine
A moraine is any glacially formed accumulation of unconsolidated glacial debris which can occur in currently glaciated and formerly glaciated regions, such as those areas acted upon by a past glacial maximum. This debris may have been plucked off a valley floor as a glacier advanced or it may have...

s beyond Mürren
Mürren
Mürren is a traditional Walser mountain village in Bernese Oberland, Switzerland, at an elevation of 1,650 m above sea level and unreachable by public road....

. Fifty-seven years later, Tolkien remembered his regret at leaving the view of the eternal snows of Jungfrau
Jungfrau
The Jungfrau is one of the main summits in the Bernese Alps, situated between the cantons of Valais and Bern in Switzerland...

 and Silberhorn
Silberhorn
The Silberhorn is a pyramid-shaped mountain in the Bernese Alps, to the northwest of the Jungfrau of which it is a satellite peak.A first attempt to reach the summit of the Silberhorn was made in June 1863 by M. v. Fellenberg from the Stufensteinalp on the east side of the valley of Lauterbrunnen...

 ("the Silvertine (Celebdil) of my dreams"). They went across the Kleine Scheidegg
Kleine Scheidegg
The Kleine Scheidegg is a high mountain pass below and between the Eiger and Lauberhorn peaks in the Bernese Oberland, Switzerland. It connects Grindelwald with Lauterbrunnen. The name means "minor watershed", even though it is actually higher than the neighbouring Grosse Scheidegg...

 to Grindelwald
Grindelwald
Grindelwald is a municipality in the Interlaken-Oberhasli administrative district in the canton of Bern in Switzerland. The village is located at above sea level in the Bernese Alps.-Winter sports:...

 and on across the Grosse Scheidegg
Grosse Scheidegg
Grosse Scheidegg is a high mountain pass in the Bernese Alps in Switzerland, connecting Grindelwald and Meiringen.The road over the pass is open only to bus traffic...

 to Meiringen
Meiringen
-References:...

. They continued across the Grimsel Pass
Grimsel Pass
Grimsel Pass is a Swiss high mountain pass.-Position:It connects the valley of the Rhone River in the canton of Valais and the Haslital in the canton of Bern....

, through the upper Valais
Valais
The Valais is one of the 26 cantons of Switzerland in the southwestern part of the country, around the valley of the Rhône from its headwaters to Lake Geneva, separating the Pennine Alps from the Bernese Alps. The canton is one of the drier parts of Switzerland in its central Rhône valley...

 to Brig
Brig, Switzerland
Brig, officially Brig-Glis is a municipality in the district of Brig in the canton of Valais in Switzerland.The current municipality was formed in 1972 through the merger of Brig , Brigerbad and Glis.-History:...

 and on to the Aletsch glacier
Aletsch Glacier
The Aletsch Glacier or Great Aletsch Glacier is the largest glacier in the Alps. It has a length of about and covers more than in the eastern Bernese Alps in the Swiss canton of Valais...

 and Zermatt
Zermatt
Zermatt is a municipality in the district of Visp in the German-speaking section of the canton of Valais in Switzerland. It has a population of about 5,800 inhabitants....

.

In October of the same year, Tolkien began studying at Exeter College, Oxford
Exeter College, Oxford
Exeter College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England and the fourth oldest college of the University. The main entrance is on the east side of Turl Street...

. He initially studied Classics
Classics
Classics is the branch of the Humanities comprising the languages, literature, philosophy, history, art, archaeology and other culture of the ancient Mediterranean world ; especially Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome during Classical Antiquity Classics (sometimes encompassing Classical Studies or...

 but changed his course in 1913 to English Language
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 and Literature
English literature
English literature is the literature written in the English language, including literature composed in English by writers not necessarily from England; for example, Robert Burns was Scottish, James Joyce was Irish, Joseph Conrad was Polish, Dylan Thomas was Welsh, Edgar Allan Poe was American, J....

, graduating in 1915 with first-class honours in his final examinations.

Courtship and marriage

At the age of 16, Tolkien met Edith Mary Bratt
Edith Tolkien
Edith Mary Tolkien , was the wife and muse of novelist J. R. R. Tolkien. She is best known as the inspiration for his fictional characters Lúthien Tinúviel and Arwen Evenstar.- Early life :...

, who was three years older, when he and his brother Hilary moved into the boarding house in which she lived. According to Humphrey Carpenter:

His guardian, Father Francis Morgan, viewing Edith as a distraction from Tolkien's school work and horrified that his young charge was seriously involved with a Protestant
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

 girl, prohibited him from meeting, talking to, or even corresponding with her until he was 21. He obeyed this prohibition to the letter, with one notable early exception which made Father Morgan threaten to cut short his University career if he did not stop.

On the evening of his twenty-first birthday, Tolkien wrote to Edith a declaration of his love and asked her to marry him. Edith replied saying that she had already agreed to marry another man, but that she had done so because she had believed Tolkien had forgotten her. The two met up and beneath a railway viaduct renewed their love; Edith returned her engagement ring and announced that she was marrying Tolkien instead. Following their engagement Edith reluctantly announced that she was converting to Catholicism at Tolkien's insistence. Her landlord, a staunch Protestant, was infuriated and evicted her as soon as she was able to find other lodgings. Edith and Ronald were formally engaged in Birmingham, in January 1913, and married at Warwick, England, at Saint Mary Immaculate Catholic Church on 22 March 1916.

World War I

In 1914, the United Kingdom entered World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

. Tolkien's relatives were shocked when he elected not to immediately volunteer for the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

. Instead, Tolkien entered a programme wherein he delayed enlisting until completing his degree in July 1915. He was then commissioned as a Second Lieutenant
Second Lieutenant
Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces.- United Kingdom and Commonwealth :The rank second lieutenant was introduced throughout the British Army in 1871 to replace the rank of ensign , although it had long been used in the Royal Artillery, Royal...

 in the Lancashire Fusiliers
Lancashire Fusiliers
The Lancashire Fusiliers was a British infantry regiment that was amalgamated with other Fusilier regiments in 1968 to form the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.- Formation and early history:...

. He trained with the 13th (Reserve) Battalion on Cannock Chase
Cannock Chase
Cannock Chase is a mixed area of countryside in the county of Staffordshire, England. The area has been designated as the Cannock Chase Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The Chase gives its name to the Cannock Chase local government district....

, Staffordshire
Staffordshire
Staffordshire is a landlocked county in the West Midlands region of England. For Eurostat purposes, the county is a NUTS 3 region and is one of four counties or unitary districts that comprise the "Shropshire and Staffordshire" NUTS 2 region. Part of the National Forest lies within its borders...

, for eleven months. In a letter to Edith, Tolkien complained, "Gentlemen are rare among the superiors, and even human beings rare indeed." Tolkien was then transferred to the 11th (Service) Battalion with the British Expeditionary Force, arriving in France on 4 June 1916. His departure from England on a troop transport inspired him to write his poem, The Lonely Isle. He later wrote, "Junior officers were being killed off, a dozen a minute. Parting from my wife then ... it was like a death."

Tolkien served as a signals officer at the Somme
Battle of the Somme (1916)
The Battle of the Somme , also known as the Somme Offensive, took place during the First World War between 1 July and 14 November 1916 in the Somme department of France, on both banks of the river of the same name...

, participating in the Battle of Thiepval Ridge
Battle of Thiepval Ridge
The Battle of Thiepval Ridge was the first large offensive mounted by the British Reserve Army of Lieutenant General Hubert Gough during the Battle of the Somme and was designed to benefit from British Fourth Army's Battle of Morval by starting 24 hours afterwards...

 and the subsequent assault on the Schwaben Redoubt
Schwaben Redoubt
The Schwaben Redoubt lies between the Thiepval Memorial and the Ulster tower. It was a German strongpoint on the western front in the First World War. Consisting of a mass of gun emplacements, trenches and tunnels, this warren of defensive works helped anchor the German line on the Somme until late...

. According to John Garth, however:
Although Kitchener
Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener
Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, ADC, PC , was an Irish-born British Field Marshal and proconsul who won fame for his imperial campaigns and later played a central role in the early part of the First World War, although he died halfway...

's army enshrined old social boundaries, it also chipped away at the class divide by throwing men from all walks of life into a desperate situation together. Tolkien wrote that the experience taught him, 'a deep sympathy and feeling for the Tommy
Tommy Atkins
Tommy Atkins is a term for a common soldier in the British Army that was already well established in the 19th century, but is particularly associated with World War I. It can be used as a term of reference, or as a form of address. German soldiers would call out to "Tommy" across no man's land if...

; especially the plain soldier from the agricultural counties.' He remained profoundly grateful for the lesson. For a long time, he had been imprisoned in a tower, not of pearl, but of ivory.


Tolkien's time in combat was a terrible stress for Edith, who feared that every knock on the door might carry news of her husband's death. In order to get around the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

's postal censorship
Postal censorship
Postal censorship is the inspection or examination of mail, most often by governments. It can include opening, reading and total or selective obliteration of letters and their contents, as well as covers, postcards, parcels and other postal packets. Postal censorship takes place primarily but not...

, the Tolkiens had developed a secret code which accompanied his letters home. By using the code, Edith was able to track her husband's movements on a map of the Western Front
Western Front (World War I)
Following the outbreak of World War I in 1914, the German Army opened the Western Front by first invading Luxembourg and Belgium, then gaining military control of important industrial regions in France. The tide of the advance was dramatically turned with the Battle of the Marne...

.

On 27 October 1916 Tolkien came down with trench fever
Trench fever
Trench fever is a moderately serious disease transmitted by body lice. It infected armies in Flanders, France, Poland, Galicia, Italy, Salonika, Macedonia, Mesopotamia, and Egypt in World War I Trench fever (also known as "Five day fever", "Quintan fever" (febris Quintana in Latin), "Urban trench...

, a disease carried by the lice which were common in the dugouts. According to the memoirs of the Reverend Mervyn S. Evers, Anglican chaplain to the Lancashire Fusiliers:
Tolkien was invalided to England on 8 November 1916. Many of his dearest school friends, including Gilson and Smith of the T.C.B.S., were killed in the war. In later years, Tolkien indignantly declared that those who searched his works for parallels to the Second World War were entirely mistaken:

Homefront

A weak and emaciated Tolkien spent the remainder of the war alternating between hospitals and garrison duties, being deemed medically unfit for general service.

During his recovery in a cottage in Little Haywood
Little Haywood
Little Haywood is a village in Staffordshire, England. It lies beside a main arterial highway, the A51 but traffic through the village is mainly light, owing to this bypass. Nearby also is the West Coast Main Line railway, the Trent and Mersey Canal and beside it, the river Trent...

, Staffordshire, he began to work on what he called The Book of Lost Tales
The Book of Lost Tales
The Book of Lost Tales is the title of a collection of early stories by J. R. R. Tolkien, and of the first two volumes of Christopher Tolkien's 12-volume series The History of Middle-earth, in which he presents and analyses the manuscripts of those stories, which were the earliest form of the...

, beginning with The Fall of Gondolin. Throughout 1917 and 1918 his illness kept recurring, but he had recovered enough to do home service at various camps and was promoted to Lieutenant
Lieutenant
A lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer in many nations' armed forces. Typically, the rank of lieutenant in naval usage, while still a junior officer rank, is senior to the army rank...

. It was at this time that Edith bore their first child, John Francis Reuel Tolkien.

When he was stationed at Kingston upon Hull
Kingston upon Hull
Kingston upon Hull , usually referred to as Hull, is a city and unitary authority area in the ceremonial county of the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It stands on the River Hull at its junction with the Humber estuary, 25 miles inland from the North Sea. Hull has a resident population of...

, he and Edith went walking in the woods at nearby Roos
Roos
Roos is a village and civil parish in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It is situated east of Kingston upon Hull city centre and north west of Withernsea on the B1242 road.The Prime Meridian crosses the coast to the east of Roos....

, and Edith began to dance for him in a clearing among the flowering hemlock. After his wife's death in 1971, Tolkien remembered,
I never called Edith Luthien – but she was the source of the story that in time became the chief part of the Silmarillion. It was first conceived in a small woodland glade filled with hemlocks at Roos in Yorkshire (where I was for a brief time in command of an outpost of the Humber Garrison in 1917, and she was able to live with me for a while). In those days her hair was raven, her skin clear, her eyes brighter than you have seen them, and she could sing – and dance. But the story has gone crooked, & I am left, and I cannot plead before the inexorable Mandos.


This incident inspired the account of the meeting of Beren and Lúthien, and Tolkien often referred to Edith as "my Lúthien".

Academic and writing career

Tolkien's first civilian job after World War I was at the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

, where he worked mainly on the history and etymology of words of Germanic origin beginning with the letter W. In 1920, he took up a post as Reader
Reader (academic rank)
The title of Reader in the United Kingdom and some universities in the Commonwealth nations like Australia and New Zealand denotes an appointment for a senior academic with a distinguished international reputation in research or scholarship...

 in English Language at the University of Leeds
University of Leeds
The University of Leeds is a British Redbrick university located in the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England...

, and became the youngest professor there. While at Leeds, he produced A Middle English Vocabulary and a definitive edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is a late 14th-century Middle English alliterative romance outlining an adventure of Sir Gawain, a knight of King Arthur's Round Table. In the poem, Sir Gawain accepts a challenge from a mysterious warrior who is completely green, from his clothes and hair to his...

with E. V. Gordon
E. V. Gordon
Eric Valentine Gordon was a philologist who is known for his compiling of many Germanic texts in their original language into book format...

, both becoming academic standard works for several decades. He also translated Sir Gawain, Pearl
Pearl (poem)
Pearl is a Middle English alliterative poem written in the late 14th century. Its unknown author, designated the "Pearl poet" or "Gawain poet", is generally assumed, on the basis of dialect and stylistic evidence, to be the author of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Patience, and Cleanness or...

, and Sir Orfeo
Sir Orfeo
Sir Orfeo is an anonymous Middle English narrative poem, retelling the story of Orpheus as a king rescuing his wife from the fairy king.-History and Manuscripts:...

. In 1925, he returned to Oxford as Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon
Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon
The Rawlinson and Bosworth Professorship of Anglo-Saxon, until 1916 known as the Rawlinsonian Professorship of Anglo-Saxon, was established by Richard Rawlinson of St. John's College, Oxford, in 1795. The Chair is associated with Pembroke College. 'Bosworth' was added to commemorate Joseph...

, with a fellowship at Pembroke College
Pembroke College, Oxford
Pembroke College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England, located in Pembroke Square. As of 2009, Pembroke had an estimated financial endowment of £44.9 million.-History:...

.

During his time at Pembroke College
Pembroke College, Oxford
Pembroke College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England, located in Pembroke Square. As of 2009, Pembroke had an estimated financial endowment of £44.9 million.-History:...

 Tolkien wrote The Hobbit
The Hobbit
The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, better known by its abbreviated title The Hobbit, is a fantasy novel and children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald...

and the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings, whilst living at 20 Northmoor Road
Northmoor Road
Northmoor Road is a road in North Oxford, England. It runs north-south parallel to and east of the Banbury Road. At the northern end is a junction with Belbroughton Road and to the south is a junction with Bardwell Road, location of the Dragon School...

 in North Oxford
North Oxford
North Oxford is a suburban part of the city of Oxford in England. It was owned for many centuries largely by St John's College, Oxford and many of the area's Victorian houses were initially sold on leasehold by the College....

 (where a blue plaque
Blue plaque
A blue plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person or event, serving as a historical marker....

 was placed in 2002). He also published a philological essay in 1932 on the name "Nodens
Nodens
Nodents is a Celtic deity associated with healing, the sea, hunting and dogs. He was worshipped in ancient Britain, most notably in a temple complex at Lydney Park in Gloucestershire, and possibly also in Gaul...

", following Sir Mortimer Wheeler
Mortimer Wheeler
Brigadier Sir Robert Eric Mortimer Wheeler CH, CIE, MC, FBA, FSA , was one of the best-known British archaeologists of the twentieth century.-Education and career:...

's unearthing of a Roman
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome was a thriving civilization that grew on the Italian Peninsula as early as the 8th century BC. Located along the Mediterranean Sea and centered on the city of Rome, it expanded to one of the largest empires in the ancient world....

 Asclepeion at Lydney Park
Lydney Park
Lydney Park is a 17th century country estate surrounding Lydney House, located at Lydney in the Forest of Dean district in Gloucestershire, England. It is known for its gardens and Roman temple complex.-House and gardens:...

, Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire
Gloucestershire is a county in South West England. The county comprises part of the Cotswold Hills, part of the flat fertile valley of the River Severn, and the entire Forest of Dean....

, in 1928.

Beowulf

Tolkien's 1936 lecture, "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics
Beowulf: the monsters and the critics
"Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" was a 1936 lecture given by J. R. R. Tolkien on literary criticism on the Old English heroic epic poem Beowulf...

," had a lasting influence on Beowulf
Beowulf
Beowulf , but modern scholars agree in naming it after the hero whose life is its subject." of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature.It survives in a single...

research. Lewis E. Nicholson said that the article Tolkien wrote about Beowulf is "widely recognized as a turning point in Beowulfian criticism", noting that Tolkien established the primacy of the poetic nature of the work as opposed to its purely linguistic elements. At the time, the consensus of scholarship deprecated Beowulf for dealing with childish battles with monsters rather than realistic tribal warfare; Tolkien argued that the author of Beowulf was addressing human destiny in general, not as limited by particular tribal politics, and therefore the monsters were essential to the poem. Where Beowulf does deal with specific tribal struggles, as at Finnsburg, Tolkien argued firmly against reading in fantastic elements. In the essay, Tolkien also revealed how highly he regarded Beowulf: "Beowulf is among my most valued sources," and this influence may be seen throughout his Middle-earth
Middle-earth
Middle-earth is the fictional setting of the majority of author J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy writings. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place entirely in Middle-earth, as does much of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales....

 legendarium
Legendarium
Legendary may refer to:*A hagiography, or study of the lives of saints and other religious figures**The South English Legendary, a Middle English legendary*A legend-Entertainment:*Legendary, an album by Kaysha*Legendary...

.

According to Humphrey Carpenter
Humphrey Carpenter
Humphrey William Bouverie Carpenter was an English biographer, writer, and radio broadcaster.-Biography:...

, Tolkien had an ingenious means of beginning his series of lectures on Beowulf:
He would come silently into the room, fix the audience with his gaze, and suddenly begin to declaim in a resounding voice the opening lines of the poem in the original Anglo-Saxon, commencing with a great cry of Hwæt! (The first word of this and several other Old English poems), which some undergraduates took to be 'Quiet!' It was not so much a recitation as a dramatic performance, an impersonation of an Anglo-Saxon bard in a mead hall, and it impressed generations of students because it brought home to them that Beowulf was not just a set text to be read for the purposes of examination, but a powerful piece of dramatic poetry.


Decades later, W.H. Auden wrote to his former professor,
"I don't think that I have ever told you what an unforgettable experience it was for me as an undergraduate, hearing you recite Beowulf. The voice was the voice of Gandalf
Gandalf
Gandalf is a character in J. R. R. Tolkien's novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. In these stories, Gandalf appears as a wizard, member and later the head of the order known as the Istari, as well as leader of the Fellowship of the Ring and the army of the West...

."


In 2003, Tolkien's handwritten translation of and commentary on Beowulf, running to roughly 2000 pages, was discovered in the archives of the Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library
The Bodleian Library , the main research library of the University of Oxford, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library...

.

World War II

In the run-up to World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Tolkien was earmarked as a codebreaker
Cryptanalysis
Cryptanalysis is the study of methods for obtaining the meaning of encrypted information, without access to the secret information that is normally required to do so. Typically, this involves knowing how the system works and finding a secret key...

. In January 1939, he was asked whether he would be prepared to serve in the cryptographical
Cryptography
Cryptography is the practice and study of techniques for secure communication in the presence of third parties...

 department of the Foreign Office in the event of national emergency. He replied in the affirmative and, beginning on 27 March, took an instructional course at the London HQ of the Government Code and Cypher School. However, although he was "keen" to become a codebreaker, he was informed in October that his services would not be required at that time. Ultimately he never served as one. In 2009, The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph
The Daily Telegraph is a daily morning broadsheet newspaper distributed throughout the United Kingdom and internationally. The newspaper was founded by Arthur B...

claimed Tolkien turned down a £500-a-year offer to become a full-time recruit for unknown reasons.

Although Tolkien detested Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 and Nazism
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

, he was also appalled by Allied total war
Total war
Total war is a war in which a belligerent engages in the complete mobilization of fully available resources and population.In the mid-19th century, "total war" was identified by scholars as a separate class of warfare...

 tactics against German civilians. In a 1945 letter to his son Christopher
Christopher Tolkien
Christopher Reuel Tolkien is the third and youngest son of the author J. R. R. Tolkien , and is best known as the editor of much of his father's posthumously published work. He drew the original maps for his father's The Lord of the Rings, which he signed C. J. R. T. The J...

, Tolkien wrote:

We were supposed to have reached a stage of civilization in which it might still be necessary to execute a criminal, but not to gloat, or to hang his wife and child by him while the orc
Orc (Middle-earth)
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy writings, Orcs or Orks are a race of creatures who are used as soldiers and henchmen by both the greater and lesser villains of The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings — Morgoth, Sauron and Saruman...

-crowd hooted. The destruction of Germany, be it 100 times merited, is one of the most appalling world-catastrophes. Well, well, — you and I can do nothing about it. And that should be a measure of the amount of guilt that can justly be assumed to attach to any member of a country who is not a member of its actual Government. Well the first War of the Machines seems to be drawing to its final inconclusive chapter—leaving, alas, everyone the poorer, many bereaved or maimed and millions dead, and only one thing triumphant: the Machines.


He also reacted with disgust at the excesses of anti-German
Anti-German sentiment
Anti-German sentiment is defined as an opposition to or fear of Germany, its inhabitants, and the German language. Its opposite is Germanophilia.-Russia:...

 propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

. In 1944, he wrote in a letter to his son Christopher:

... it is distressing to see the press grovelling in the gutter as low as Goebbels
Joseph Goebbels
Paul Joseph Goebbels was a German politician and Reich Minister of Propaganda in Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945. As one of Adolf Hitler's closest associates and most devout followers, he was known for his zealous oratory and anti-Semitism...

 in his prime, shrieking that any German commander who holds out in a desperate situation (when, too, the military needs of his side clearly benefit) is a drunkard, and a besotted fanatic. ... There was a solemn article in the local paper seriously advocating systematic exterminating of the entire German nation as the only proper course after military victory: because, if you please, they are rattlesnake
Rattlesnake
Rattlesnakes are a group of venomous snakes of the genera Crotalus and Sistrurus of the subfamily Crotalinae . There are 32 known species of rattlesnake, with between 65-70 subspecies, all native to the Americas, ranging from southern Alberta and southern British Columbia in Canada to Central...

s, and don't know the difference between good and evil! (What of the writer?) The Germans have just as much right to declare the Poles
Poles
thumb|right|180px|The state flag of [[Poland]] as used by Polish government and diplomatic authoritiesThe Polish people, or Poles , are a nation indigenous to Poland. They are united by the Polish language, which belongs to the historical Lechitic subgroup of West Slavic languages of Central Europe...

 and Jews exterminable vermin, subhuman
Untermensch
Untermensch is a term that became infamous when the Nazi racial ideology used it to describe "inferior people", especially "the masses from the East," that is Jews, Gypsies, Poles along with other Slavic people like the Russians, Serbs, Belarussians and Ukrainians...

, as we have to select the Germans: in other words, no right, whatever they have done.


Tolkien was further horrified by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
During the final stages of World War II in 1945, the United States conducted two atomic bombings against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, the first on August 6, 1945, and the second on August 9, 1945. These two events are the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date.For six months...

, referring to the scientists of the Manhattan Project
Manhattan Project
The Manhattan Project was a research and development program, led by the United States with participation from the United Kingdom and Canada, that produced the first atomic bomb during World War II. From 1942 to 1946, the project was under the direction of Major General Leslie Groves of the US Army...

 as "these lunatic physicists" and "Babel
Tower of Babel
The Tower of Babel , according to the Book of Genesis, was an enormous tower built in the plain of Shinar .According to the biblical account, a united humanity of the generations following the Great Flood, speaking a single language and migrating from the east, came to the land of Shinar, where...

-builders".

In 1945, Tolkien moved to Merton College, Oxford
Merton College, Oxford
Merton College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England. Its foundation can be traced back to the 1260s when Walter de Merton, chancellor to Henry III and later to Edward I, first drew up statutes for an independent academic community and established endowments to...

, becoming the Merton Professor of English Language and Literature
Merton Professors
There are two Merton Professorships of English in the University of Oxford: the Merton Professor of English Language and Literature, and the Merton Professor of English Literature. The second was created in 1914 when Sir Walter Raleigh's chair was renamed...

, in which post he remained until his retirement in 1959. He served as an external examiner for University College, Dublin, for many years. In 1954 Tolkien received an honorary degree from the National University of Ireland
National University of Ireland
The National University of Ireland , , is a federal university system of constituent universities, previously called constituent colleges, and recognised colleges set up under the Irish Universities Act, 1908, and significantly amended by the Universities Act, 1997.The constituent universities are...

 (of which U.C.D. was a constituent college). Tolkien completed The Lord of the Rings in 1948, close to a decade after the first sketches.

Tolkien also translated the Book of Jonah
Book of Jonah
The Book of Jonah is a book in the Hebrew Bible. It tells the story of a Hebrew prophet named Jonah ben Amittai who is sent by God to prophesy the destruction of Nineveh but tries to escape the divine mission...

 for the Jerusalem Bible
Jerusalem Bible
The Jerusalem Bible is a Roman Catholic translation of the Bible which first was introduced to the English-speaking public in 1966 and published by Darton, Longman & Todd...

, which was published in 1966.

Family

The Tolkiens had four children: John Francis Reuel Tolkien (17 November 1917 – 22 January 2003), Michael Hilary Reuel Tolkien (22 October 1920 – 27 February 1984), Christopher John Reuel Tolkien
Christopher Tolkien
Christopher Reuel Tolkien is the third and youngest son of the author J. R. R. Tolkien , and is best known as the editor of much of his father's posthumously published work. He drew the original maps for his father's The Lord of the Rings, which he signed C. J. R. T. The J...

 (born 21 November 1924) and Priscilla Mary Anne Reuel Tolkien (born 18 June 1929). Tolkien was very devoted to his children and sent them illustrated letters from Father Christmas
The Father Christmas Letters
The Father Christmas Letters is a collection of letters written and illustrated by J. R. R. Tolkien between 1920 and 1942 for his children, from "Father Christmas"...

 when they were young. Each year more characters were added, such as the Polar Bear (Father Christmas's helper), the Snow Man (his gardener), Ilbereth the elf (his secretary), and various other, minor characters. The major characters would relate tales of Father Christmas's battles against goblin
Goblin
A goblin is a legendary evil or mischievous illiterate creature, a grotesquely evil or evil-like phantom.They are attributed with various abilities, temperaments and appearances depending on the story and country of origin. In some cases, goblins have been classified as constantly annoying little...

s who rode on bats and the various pranks committed by the Polar Bear.

Retirement and later years

During his life in retirement, from 1959 up to his death in 1973, Tolkien received steadily increasing public attention and literary fame. The sales of his books were so profitable that he regretted that he had not chosen early retirement. At first, he wrote enthusiastic answers to readers' enquiries, but he became increasingly unhappy about the sudden popularity of his books with the 1960s counter-culture movement. In a 1972 letter, he deplored having become a cult-figure
Tolkien fandom
Tolkien fandom is an international, informal community of fans of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, especially of the Middle-earth legendarium which includes The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion...

, but admitted that "even the nose of a very modest idol [...] cannot remain entirely untickled by the sweet smell of incense!"

Fan attention became so intense that Tolkien had to take his phone number out of the public directory, and eventually he and Edith moved to Bournemouth
Bournemouth
Bournemouth is a large coastal resort town in the ceremonial county of Dorset, England. According to the 2001 Census the town has a population of 163,444, making it the largest settlement in Dorset. It is also the largest settlement between Southampton and Plymouth...

, which was then a seaside resort patronized by the British upper class. Tolkien's status as a best-selling author gave them easy entry into polite society, but Tolkien deeply missed the company of his fellow Inklings
Inklings
The Inklings was an informal literary discussion group associated with the University of Oxford, England, for nearly two decades between the early 1930s and late 1949. The Inklings were literary enthusiasts who praised the value of narrative in fiction, and encouraged the writing of fantasy...

. Edith, however, was overjoyed to step into the role of a society hostess, which had been the reason that Tolkien selected Bournemouth in the first place.

According to Humphrey Carpenter
Humphrey Carpenter
Humphrey William Bouverie Carpenter was an English biographer, writer, and radio broadcaster.-Biography:...

,
Those friends who knew Ronald and Edith Tolkien over the years never doubted that there was deep affection between them. It was visible in the small things, the almost absurd degree in which each worried about the other's health, and the care in which they chose and wrapped each other's birthday presents'; and in the large matters, the way in which Ronald willingly abandoned such a large part of his life in retirement to give Edith the last years in Bournemouth that he felt she deserved, and the degree in which she showed pride in his fame as an author. A principal source of happiness to them was their shared love of their family. This bound them together until the end of their lives, and it was perhaps the strongest force in the marriage. They delighted to discuss and mull over every detail of the lives of their children, and later their grandchildren.


Tolkien was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

 a Commander of the Order of the British Empire
Order of the British Empire
The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is an order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by George V of the United Kingdom. The Order comprises five classes in civil and military divisions...

 in the New Year's Honours List of 1 January 1972 and received the insignia of the Order at Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, in London, is the principal residence and office of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality...

 on 28 March 1972. In the same year Oxford University conferred upon him an honorary Doctorate of Letters
Doctor of Letters
Doctor of Letters is a university academic degree, often a higher doctorate which is frequently awarded as an honorary degree in recognition of outstanding scholarship or other merits.-Commonwealth:...

.

Death

Edith Tolkien died on 29 November 1971, at the age of 82.

According to Simon Tolkien
Simon Tolkien
Simon Mario Reuel Tolkien is a British barrister and novelist. He is the grandson of J. R. R. Tolkien, and the eldest son of Christopher Tolkien. He was educated at the Dragon School in Oxford and then Downside School. He studied modern history at Trinity College, Oxford.Since 1994, he has been a...

,
"My grandmother died two years before my grandfather and he came back to live in Oxford. Merton College gave him rooms just off the High Street. I went there frequently and he'd take me to lunch in the Eastgate Hotel. Those lunches were rather wonderful for a 12-year-old boy spending time with his grandfather, but sometimes he seemed sad. There was one visit when he told me how much he missed my grandmother. It must have been very strange for him being alone after they had been married for more than 50 years."


Meanwhile, Tolkien had the name Lúthien
Lúthien
Lúthien Tinúviel is a fictional character in the fantasy-world Middle-earth of the English author J. R. R. Tolkien. She appears in The Silmarillion, the epic poem The Lay of Leithian, The Lord of the Rings and the Grey Annals, as well as in other material.-Character overview:Lúthien is a Telerin ...

 engraved on the Edith's tombstone at Wolvercote Cemetery
Wolvercote Cemetery
Wolvercote Cemetery is a cemetery close to the north Oxford suburb of Wolvercote, England, off the Banbury Road. Unusually, this single cemetery is divided into areas to accommodate graves of the Jewish and Muslim communities, as well as all categories of Christians. Many Russians, Poles and other...

, Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

. When Tolkien died 21 months later on 2 September 1973, at the age of 81, he was buried in the same grave, with Beren
Beren
Beren is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He appears in The Silmarillion. Huan spoke to him.-Character overview:...

 added to his name. The engravings read:
In Tolkien's Middle-earth
Middle-earth
Middle-earth is the fictional setting of the majority of author J. R. R. Tolkien's fantasy writings. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings take place entirely in Middle-earth, as does much of The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales....

 legendarium
Legendarium
Legendary may refer to:*A hagiography, or study of the lives of saints and other religious figures**The South English Legendary, a Middle English legendary*A legend-Entertainment:*Legendary, an album by Kaysha*Legendary...

, Lúthien was the most beautiful of all the Children of Ilúvatar
Children of Ilúvatar
The Children of Ilúvatar is the name given to the two races of Elves and Men in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium because they were created by Ilúvatar, the One God, without the help of the Ainur....

, and forsook her immortality
Immortality
Immortality is the ability to live forever. It is unknown whether human physical immortality is an achievable condition. Biological forms have inherent limitations which may or may not be able to be overcome through medical interventions or engineering...

 for her love of the mortal warrior Beren. After Beren was captured by the forces of the dark lord Morgoth
Morgoth
Morgoth Bauglir is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium. He is the main antagonist of The Silmarillion, figures in The Children of Húrin, and is mentioned briefly in The Lord of the Rings.Melkor was the most powerful of the Ainur, but turned to darkness and became...

, Lúthien rode to his rescue upon the talking wolfhound
Wolfhound
Wolfhound can refer to various breeds of dogs that have been bred to hunt wolves or to established lines of wolf-dog crosses that retain significant characteristics of wolves. Wolf-dog hybrids crossed in recent generations are often referred to as wolfdogs, wolf-dog hybrids or wolf crosses, but...

 Huan. Ultimately, when Beren was slain in battle against the demonic wolf Carcharoth
Carcharoth
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional universe of Middle-earth, Carcharoth , Sindarin for "The Red Maw", was the greatest werewolf that had ever lived. He was also called Anfauglir...

, Lúthien, like Orpheus
Orpheus
Orpheus was a legendary musician, poet, and prophet in ancient Greek religion and myth. The major stories about him are centered on his ability to charm all living things and even stones with his music; his attempt to retrieve his wife from the underworld; and his death at the hands of those who...

, approached the Valar
Vala (Middle-earth)
The Valar are fictional characters in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. They are first mentioned in The Lord of the Rings, but The Silmarillion develops them into the Powers of Arda or the Powers of the World...

 gods and persuaded them to restore her beloved to life.

Views

Tolkien was a devout Roman Catholic, and in his religious and political views he was mostly conservative, in the sense of favouring established conventions and orthodoxies over innovation and modernization; in 1943 he wrote, "My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy
Anarchy
Anarchy , has more than one colloquial definition. In the United States, the term "anarchy" typically is meant to refer to a society which lacks publicly recognized government or violently enforced political authority...

 (philosophically understood
Philosophical anarchism
Philosophical anarchism is an anarchist school of thought which contends that the state lacks moral legitimacy while not supporting violence to eliminate it...

, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs)—or to 'unconstitutional' Monarchy
Monarchism
Monarchism is the advocacy of the establishment, preservation, or restoration of a monarchy as a form of government in a nation. A monarchist is an individual who supports this form of government out of principle, independent from the person, the Monarch.In this system, the Monarch may be the...

."

Tolkien had an intense dislike for the side effects of industrialization, which he considered to be devouring the English countryside. For most of his adult life, he was disdainful of cars
CARS
Cars, or automobiles, motor cars, are wheeled motor vehicles used for transporting passengers.Cars or CARS may also refer to:-Entertainment:* Cars , a Disney/Pixar film series...

, preferring to ride a bicycle. This attitude can be seen in his work, most famously in the portrayal of the forced "industrialization" of the Shire
Shire (Middle-earth)
The Shire is a region of J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional Middle-earth, described in The Lord of the Rings and other works. The Shire refers to an area settled exclusively by Hobbits and largely removed from the goings-on in the rest of Middle-earth. It is located in the northwest of the continent, in...

 in The Lord of the Rings.

Many commentators have remarked on a number of potential parallels between the Middle-earth saga and events in Tolkien's lifetime. The Lord of the Rings is often thought to represent England during and immediately after World War II. Tolkien ardently rejected this opinion in the foreword to the second edition of the novel, stating he preferred applicability to allegory. This theme is taken up at greater length in his essay "On Fairy-Stories
On Fairy-Stories
"On Fairy-Stories" is an essay by J. R. R. Tolkien which discusses the fairy-story as a literary form. It was initially written for presentation by Tolkien as the Andrew Lang lecture at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, in 1939. It first appeared in print, with some enhancement, in 1947, in...

", where he argues that fairy-stories are so apt because they are consistent both within themselves and with some truths about reality. He concludes that Christianity itself follows this pattern of inner consistency and external truth. His belief in the fundamental truths of Christianity leads commentators to find Christian themes in The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien objected strongly to C. S. Lewis's use of religious references in his stories, which were often overtly allegorical. However, Tolkien wrote that the Mount Doom
Mount Doom
Mount Doom is a volcano in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. It is located in the heart of the black land of Mordor and close to Barad-dûr, it is approximately high. Alternative names, in Tolkien's invented language of Sindarin, include Orodruin and Amon Amarth...

 scene exemplified lines from the Lord's Prayer
Lord's Prayer
The Lord's Prayer is a central prayer in Christianity. In the New Testament of the Christian Bible, it appears in two forms: in the Gospel of Matthew as part of the discourse on ostentation in the Sermon on the Mount, and in the Gospel of Luke, which records Jesus being approached by "one of his...

.

His love of myths and his devout faith came together in his assertion that he believed mythology
Mythology
The term mythology can refer either to the study of myths, or to a body or collection of myths. As examples, comparative mythology is the study of connections between myths from different cultures, whereas Greek mythology is the body of myths from ancient Greece...

 to be the divine echo of "the Truth". This view was expressed in his poem and essay entitled Mythopoeia
Mythopoeia (poem)
Mythopoeia is a term coined by J.R.R. Tolkien as a title of a poem.Tolkien wrote Mythopoeia following a discussion on the night of 19 September 1931 at Magdalen College, Oxford with C. S. Lewis and Hugo Dyson. Lewis said that myths were "lies breathed through silver". Tolkien's poem explained...

. His theory that myths held "fundamental truths" became a central theme of the Inklings in general.

Religion

Tolkien's devout Catholic faith was a significant factor in the conversion of C. S. Lewis
C. S. Lewis
Clive Staples Lewis , commonly referred to as C. S. Lewis and known to his friends and family as "Jack", was a novelist, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian and Christian apologist from Belfast, Ireland...

 from atheism to Christianity, although Tolkien was dismayed that Lewis chose to join the Church of England
Church of England
The Church of England is the officially established Christian church in England and the Mother Church of the worldwide Anglican Communion. The church considers itself within the tradition of Western Christianity and dates its formal establishment principally to the mission to England by St...

.

In the last years of his life, Tolkien became greatly disappointed by some of the liturgical reforms and changes implemented after the Second Vatican Council
Second Vatican Council
The Second Vatican Council addressed relations between the Roman Catholic Church and the modern world. It was the twenty-first Ecumenical Council of the Catholic Church and the second to be held at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. It opened under Pope John XXIII on 11 October 1962 and closed...

, as his grandson Simon Tolkien
Simon Tolkien
Simon Mario Reuel Tolkien is a British barrister and novelist. He is the grandson of J. R. R. Tolkien, and the eldest son of Christopher Tolkien. He was educated at the Dragon School in Oxford and then Downside School. He studied modern history at Trinity College, Oxford.Since 1994, he has been a...

 recalls:
I vividly remember going to church with him in Bournemouth
Bournemouth
Bournemouth is a large coastal resort town in the ceremonial county of Dorset, England. According to the 2001 Census the town has a population of 163,444, making it the largest settlement in Dorset. It is also the largest settlement between Southampton and Plymouth...

. He was a devout Roman Catholic and it was soon after the Church had changed the liturgy
Liturgy
Liturgy is either the customary public worship done by a specific religious group, according to its particular traditions or a more precise term that distinguishes between those religious groups who believe their ritual requires the "people" to do the "work" of responding to the priest, and those...

 from Latin to English. My grandfather obviously didn't agree with this and made all the responses very loudly in Latin while the rest of the congregation answered in English. I found the whole experience quite excruciating, but my grandfather was oblivious. He simply had to do what he believed to be right.

Anarchism

In a 1943 letter to his son Christopher, Tolkien wrote:

Anti-Stalinism

Tolkien voiced support for the Nationalists (eventually led by Franco
Francisco Franco
Francisco Franco y Bahamonde was a Spanish general, dictator and head of state of Spain from October 1936 , and de facto regent of the nominally restored Kingdom of Spain from 1947 until his death in November, 1975...

 during the Spanish Civil War
Spanish Civil War
The Spanish Civil WarAlso known as The Crusade among Nationalists, the Fourth Carlist War among Carlists, and The Rebellion or Uprising among Republicans. was a major conflict fought in Spain from 17 July 1936 to 1 April 1939...

) upon hearing that Republicans
Second Spanish Republic
The Second Spanish Republic was the government of Spain between April 14 1931, and its destruction by a military rebellion, led by General Francisco Franco....

 were destroying churches and killing priests and nuns
Red Terror (Spain)
The Red Terror in Spain is the name given by historians to various acts committed "by sections of nearly all the leftist groups" such as the killing of tens of thousands of people , as well as attacks on landowners, industrialists, and politicians, and the...

.

Tolkien was contemptuous of Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

. During World War II, Tolkien referred to Stalin as "that bloodthirsty old murderer." Tolkien also expressed hope that the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 would overthrow both Stalin and the CPSU after Hitler's defeat.

However, in 1961, Tolkien sharply criticized a Swedish commentator who suggested that The Lord of the Rings was an anti-communist parable
Parable
A parable is a succinct story, in prose or verse, which illustrates one or more instructive principles, or lessons, or a normative principle. It differs from a fable in that fables use animals, plants, inanimate objects, and forces of nature as characters, while parables generally feature human...

 and identified the Dark Lord with Stalin. Tolkien retorted,
"I utterly repudiate any such 'reading', which angers me. The situation was conceived long before the Russian revolution
October Revolution
The October Revolution , also known as the Great October Socialist Revolution , Red October, the October Uprising or the Bolshevik Revolution, was a political revolution and a part of the Russian Revolution of 1917...

. Such allegory
Allegory
Allegory is a demonstrative form of representation explaining meaning other than the words that are spoken. Allegory communicates its message by means of symbolic figures, actions or symbolic representation...

 is entirely foreign to my thought."

Debate over race

The question of racist
Racism
Racism is the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination. In the modern English language, the term "racism" is used predominantly as a pejorative epithet. It is applied especially to the practice or advocacy of racial discrimination of a pernicious nature...

 or racialist
Racialism
Racialism is an emphasis on race or racial considerations. Currently, racialism entails a belief in the existence and significance of racial categories, but not necessarily that any absolute hierarchy between the races has been demonstrated by a rigorous and comprehensive scientific process...

 elements in Tolkien's views and works has been the matter of some scholarly debate.
Christine Chism distinguishes accusations as falling into three categories: intentional racism, unconscious Eurocentric bias, and an evolution from latent racism in Tolkien's early work to a conscious rejection of racist tendencies in his late work.

Tolkien expressed disgust at what he acknowledged as racism and once wrote of racial segregation in South Africa, "The treatment of colour nearly always horrifies anyone going out from Britain."

Opposition to Nazism

Tolkien vocally opposed Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 and the Nazi Party prior to the Second World War. In 1938, the publishing house Rütten & Loening Verlag was preparing to release The Hobbit in Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

. To Tolkien's outrage, he was asked beforehand whether he was of Aryan
Aryan race
The Aryan race is a concept historically influential in Western culture in the period of the late 19th century and early 20th century. It derives from the idea that the original speakers of the Indo-European languages and their descendants up to the present day constitute a distinctive race or...

 origin. In a letter to his British publisher Stanley Unwin
Stanley Unwin (publisher)
Sir Stanley Unwin was a British publisher, founder of the George Allen and Unwin house in 1914. This published serious and sometimes controversial authors like Bertrand Russell and Mahatma Gandhi....

, he condemned Nazi
Nazism
Nazism, the common short form name of National Socialism was the ideology and practice of the Nazi Party and of Nazi Germany...

 "race-doctrine" as "wholly pernicious and unscientific". He added that he had many Jewish friends and was considering, "letting a German translation go hang". He provided two letters to Rütten & Loening and instructed Unwin to send whichever he preferred. The more tactful letter was sent and was lost during the later bombing of Germany. In the unsent letter, Tolkien makes the point that "Aryan" is a linguistic term, denoting speakers of Indo-Iranian languages
Indo-Iranian languages
The Indo-Iranian language group constitutes the easternmost extant branch of the Indo-European family of languages. It consists of three language groups: the Indo-Aryan, Iranian and Nuristani...

. He continued,
But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject—which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.


In a 1941 letter to his son Michael, he expressed his resentment at the distortion of Germanic history in "Nordicism":

You have to understand the good in things, to detect the real evil. But no one ever calls on me to 'broadcast' or do a postscript. Yet I suppose I know better than most what is the truth about this 'Nordic' nonsense. Anyway, I have in this war a burning private grudge... against that ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hitler ... Ruining, perverting, misapplying, and making for ever accursed, that noble northern spirit, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I have ever loved, and tried to present in its true light. Nowhere, incidentally, was it nobler than in England, nor more early sanctified and Christianized.


In 1968, he objected to a description of Middle-earth as "Nordic", a term he said he disliked because of its association with racialist theories
Nordic theory
The Nordic race is one of the racial subcategories into which the Caucasian race was divided by anthropologists in the first half of the 20th century...

.

Writing

Tolkien devised several themes that were reused in successive drafts of his legendarium
Legendarium
Legendary may refer to:*A hagiography, or study of the lives of saints and other religious figures**The South English Legendary, a Middle English legendary*A legend-Entertainment:*Legendary, an album by Kaysha*Legendary...

, beginning with The Book of Lost Tales
The Book of Lost Tales
The Book of Lost Tales is the title of a collection of early stories by J. R. R. Tolkien, and of the first two volumes of Christopher Tolkien's 12-volume series The History of Middle-earth, in which he presents and analyses the manuscripts of those stories, which were the earliest form of the...

, written while recuperating from illnesses contracted during The Battle of the Somme. The two most prominent stories, the tale of Beren and Lúthien and that of Túrin
Turín
Turín is a municipality in the Ahuachapán department of El Salvador....

, were carried forward into long narrative poems (published in The Lays of Beleriand
The Lays of Beleriand
The Lays of Beleriand, published in 1985, is the third volume of Christopher Tolkien's 12-volume book series, The History of Middle-earth, in which he analyzes the unpublished manuscripts of his father J. R. R...

).

British adventure stories

One of the greatest influences on Tolkien was the Arts and Crafts
Arts and Crafts movement
Arts and Crafts was an international design philosophy that originated in England and flourished between 1860 and 1910 , continuing its influence until the 1930s...

 polymath
Polymath
A polymath is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. In less formal terms, a polymath may simply be someone who is very knowledgeable...

 William Morris
William Morris
William Morris 24 March 18343 October 1896 was an English textile designer, artist, writer, and socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and the English Arts and Crafts Movement...

. Tolkien wished to imitate Morris's prose and poetry romances, from which he took hints for the names of features such as the Dead Marshes
Dead Marshes
The Dead Marshes is a fictional place from J. R. R. Tolkien's universe, Middle-earth.-Literature:Once a part of the ancient battlefield of Dagorlad, the Dead Marshes lie north-west of the Morannon, the principal entrance to Mordor...

 in The Lord of the Rings and Mirkwood
Mirkwood
Mirkwood is a name used for two distinct fictional forests in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. In the First Age, the highlands of Dorthonion north of Beleriand were known as Mirkwood after falling under Morgoth's control. During the Third Age, the large forest in Rhovanion, east of the Anduin in ...

, along with some general aspects of approach.

Edward Wyke-Smith's The Marvellous Land of Snergs, with its "table-high" title characters, strongly influenced the incidents, themes, and depiction of Bilbo's race in The Hobbit.

Tolkien also cited H. Rider Haggard's novel She
She (novel)
She, subtitled A History of Adventure, is a novel by Henry Rider Haggard, first serialized in The Graphic magazine from October 1886 to January 1887. She is one of the classics of imaginative literature, and with over 83 million copies sold in 44 different languages, one of the best-selling books...

in a telephone interview: "I suppose as a boy She interested me as much as anything—like the Greek shard of Amyntas [Amenartas], which was the kind of machine by which everything got moving." A supposed facsimile of this potsherd appeared in Haggard's first edition, and the ancient inscription it bore, once translated, led the English characters to She's ancient kingdom. Critics have compared this device to the Testament of Isildur
Isildur
Isildur is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. He appears in the author's books The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and Unfinished Tales....

in The Lord of the Rings and to Tolkien's efforts to produce as an illustration a realistic page from the Book of Mazarbul. Critics starting with Edwin Muir
Edwin Muir
Edwin Muir was an Orcadian poet, novelist and translator born on a farm in Deerness on the Orkney Islands. He was remembered for his deeply felt and vivid poetry in plain language with few stylistic preoccupations....

 have found resemblances between Haggard's romances and Tolkien's.

Tolkien wrote of being impressed as a boy by S. R. Crockett
Samuel Rutherford Crockett
Samuel Rutherford Crockett was a Scottish novelist, born at Duchrae, Balmaghie, Kirkcudbrightshire, the illegitimate grandson of a farmer....

's historical novel The Black Douglas and of basing the Necromancer (Sauron
Sauron
Sauron is the primary antagonist and titular character of the epic fantasy novel The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.In the same work, he is revealed to be the same character as "the Necromancer" from Tolkien's earlier novel The Hobbit...

) on its villain, Gilles de Retz. Incidents in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are similar in narrative and style to the novel, and its overall style and imagery have been suggested as an influence on Tolkien.

European mythology

Tolkien was much inspired by early Germanic
Germanic peoples
The Germanic peoples are an Indo-European ethno-linguistic group of Northern European origin, identified by their use of the Indo-European Germanic languages which diversified out of Proto-Germanic during the Pre-Roman Iron Age.Originating about 1800 BCE from the Corded Ware Culture on the North...

, especially Old English
Anglo-Saxons
Anglo-Saxon is a term used by historians to designate the Germanic tribes who invaded and settled the south and east of Great Britain beginning in the early 5th century AD, and the period from their creation of the English nation to the Norman conquest. The Anglo-Saxon Era denotes the period of...

 literature, poetry, and mythology
Germanic paganism
Germanic paganism refers to the theology and religious practices of the Germanic peoples of north-western Europe from the Iron Age until their Christianization during the Medieval period...

, which were his chosen and much-loved areas of expertise. These sources of inspiration included Old English literature such as Beowulf
Beowulf
Beowulf , but modern scholars agree in naming it after the hero whose life is its subject." of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature.It survives in a single...

, Norse sagas
Saga
Sagas, are stories in Old Norse about ancient Scandinavian and Germanic history, etc.Saga may also refer to:Business*Saga DAB radio, a British radio station*Saga Airlines, a Turkish airline*Saga Falabella, a department store chain in Peru...

 such as the Volsunga saga
Volsunga saga
The Völsungasaga is a legendary saga, a late 13th century Icelandic prose rendition of the origin and decline of the Völsung clan . It is largely based on epic poetry...

and the Hervarar saga
Hervarar saga
Hervarar saga ok Heiðreks is a legendary saga from the 13th century combining matter from several older sagas. It is a valuable saga for several different reasons beside its literary qualities. It contains traditions of wars between Goths and Huns, from the 4th century, and the last part is used as...

, the Poetic Edda
Poetic Edda
The Poetic Edda is a collection of Old Norse poems primarily preserved in the Icelandic mediaeval manuscript Codex Regius. Along with Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda, the Poetic Edda is the most important extant source on Norse mythology and Germanic heroic legends, and from the early 19th century...

, the Prose Edda
Prose Edda
The Prose Edda, also known as the Younger Edda, Snorri's Edda or simply Edda, is an Icelandic collection of four sections interspersed with excerpts from earlier skaldic and Eddic poetry containing tales from Nordic mythology...

, the Nibelungenlied
Nibelungenlied
The Nibelungenlied, translated as The Song of the Nibelungs, is an epic poem in Middle High German. The story tells of dragon-slayer Siegfried at the court of the Burgundians, how he was murdered, and of his wife Kriemhild's revenge....

, and numerous other culturally related works. Despite the similarities of his work to the Volsunga saga and the Nibelungenlied, which were the basis for Richard Wagner
Richard Wagner
Wilhelm Richard Wagner was a German composer, conductor, theatre director, philosopher, music theorist, poet, essayist and writer primarily known for his operas...

's opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen
Der Ring des Nibelungen
Der Ring des Nibelungen is a cycle of four epic operas by the German composer Richard Wagner . The works are based loosely on characters from the Norse sagas and the Nibelungenlied...

, Tolkien dismissed critics' direct comparisons to Wagner, telling his publisher, "Both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceases." However, some critics believe that Tolkien was, in fact, indebted to Wagner for elements such as the "concept of the Ring as giving the owner mastery of the world ..." Two of the characteristics possessed by the One Ring
One Ring
The One Ring is a fictional artifact that appears as the central plot element in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy novels. It is described in an earlier story, The Hobbit , as a magic ring of invisibility. The sequel The Lord of the Rings describes its powers as being more encompassing than...

, its inherent malevolence and corrupting power upon minds and wills, were not present in the mythical sources but have a central role in Wagner's opera.

Tolkien also acknowledged several non-Germanic influences or sources for some of his stories and ideas. Sophocles
Sophocles
Sophocles is one of three ancient Greek tragedians whose plays have survived. His first plays were written later than those of Aeschylus, and earlier than or contemporary with those of Euripides...

' play Oedipus the King
Oedipus the King
Oedipus the King , also known by the Latin title Oedipus Rex, is an Athenian tragedy by Sophocles that was first performed c. 429 BCE. It was the second of Sophocles's three Theban plays to be produced, but it comes first in the internal chronology, followed by Oedipus at Colonus and then Antigone...

he cited as inspiring elements of The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin
The Children of Húrin
The Children of Húrin is an epic fantasy novel which forms the completion of a tale by J. R. R. Tolkien. He wrote the original version of the story in the late 1910s, revised it several times later, but did not complete it before his death in 1973...

. In addition, Tolkien first read William Forsell Kirby
William Forsell Kirby
William Forsell Kirby was an English entomologist and folklorist.He was born in Leicester. He was the eldest son of Samuel Kirby, who was a banker. He was educated privately, and became interested in butterflies and moths at an early age. The family moved to Brighton, where he became acquainted...

's translation of the Finnish national epic
National epic
A national epic is an epic poem or a literary work of epic scope which seeks or is believed to capture and express the essence or spirit of a particular nation; not necessarily a nation-state, but at least an ethnic or linguistic group with aspirations to independence or autonomy...

, the Kalevala
Kalevala
The Kalevala is a 19th century work of epic poetry compiled by Elias Lönnrot from Finnish and Karelian oral folklore and mythology.It is regarded as the national epic of Finland and is one of the most significant works of Finnish literature...

, while attending King Edward's School. He described its character of Väinämöinen
Väinämöinen
Väinämöinen is the central character in the Finnish folklore and the main character in the national epic Kalevala. His name comes from the Finnish word väinämö, meaning minstrel. Originally a Finnish god, he was described as an old and wise man, and he possessed a potent, magical...

 as one of his influences for Gandalf the Grey. The Kalevalas antihero Kullervo
Kullervo
In the Finnish Kalevala, Kullervo was the ill-fated son of Kalervo. He is the only irredeemably tragic character in Finnish mythology.-Rune 31 - Kullervo, son of Evil:...

 was further described as an inspiration for Turin Turambar
Túrin Turambar
Túrin Turambar is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. "Turambar and the Foalókë", begun in 1917, is the first appearance of Túrin in the legendarium. J.R.R...

. Dimitra Fimi, Douglas A. Anderson
Douglas A. Anderson
Douglas Allen Anderson is an author and editor on the subjects of fantasy and medieval literature, specializing in textual analysis of the works of J. R. R...

, John Garth
John Garth
John Garth was a British politician.-Offices:John Garth became the Recorder for Devizes in 1732. This role is roughly equivalent to the Town Clerk today. This position was held by a lawyer. He was elected Member of Parliament for Devizes in 1740 and was re-elected and served until his death in 1764...

, and many other prominent Tolkien scholars believe that Tolkien also drew influence from a variety of Celtic
Celtic mythology
Celtic mythology is the mythology of Celtic polytheism, apparently the religion of the Iron Age Celts. Like other Iron Age Europeans, the early Celts maintained a polytheistic mythology and religious structure...

 (Irish
Irish mythology
The mythology of pre-Christian Ireland did not entirely survive the conversion to Christianity, but much of it was preserved, shorn of its religious meanings, in medieval Irish literature, which represents the most extensive and best preserved of all the branch and the Historical Cycle. There are...

, Scottish
Scottish mythology
Scottish mythology may refer to any of the mythologies of Scotland.Myths have emerged for various purposes throughout the history of Scotland, sometimes being elaborated upon by successive generations, and at other times being completely rejected and replaced by other explanatory narratives.-...

 and Welsh
Welsh mythology
Welsh mythology, the remnants of the mythology of the pre-Christian Britons, has come down to us in much altered form in medieval Welsh manuscripts such as the Red Book of Hergest, the White Book of Rhydderch, the Book of Aneirin and the Book of Taliesin....

) history and legends. However, after the Silmarillion manuscript was rejected, in part for its "eye-splitting" Celtic names, Tolkien denied their Celtic origin:

Catholicism

Catholic theology and imagery played a part in fashioning Tolkien's creative imagination, suffused as it was by his deeply religious spirit. Tolkien acknowledged this himself:
Specifically, Paul H. Kocher
Paul H. Kocher
Paul Harold Kocher was an author and professor of English. He wrote extensively on the works of J. R. R. Tolkien as well as on aspects of Elizabethan English philosophy and literature, and the Franciscan missions of 18th and 19th century California.Born Paul Harold Kocher in Trinidad, he later...

 argues that Tolkien describes evil in the orthodox Christian way as the absence of good. He cites many examples in The Lord of the Rings, such as Sauron's "Lidless Eye": "the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing." Kocher sees Tolkien's source as Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas
Thomas Aquinas, O.P. , also Thomas of Aquin or Aquino, was an Italian Dominican priest of the Catholic Church, and an immensely influential philosopher and theologian in the tradition of scholasticism, known as Doctor Angelicus, Doctor Communis, or Doctor Universalis...

, "whom it is reasonable to suppose that Tolkien, as a medievalist and a Catholic, knows well". Tom Shippey
Tom Shippey
Thomas Alan Shippey is a scholar of medieval literature, including that of Anglo-Saxon England, and of modern fantasy and science fiction, in particular the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, about whom he has written several scholarly studies. He is widely considered one of the leading academic scholars...

 makes the same point, but, instead of referring to Aquinas, says Tolkien was very familiar with Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great
Alfred the Great was King of Wessex from 871 to 899.Alfred is noted for his defence of the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of southern England against the Vikings, becoming the only English monarch still to be accorded the epithet "the Great". Alfred was the first King of the West Saxons to style himself...

's Anglo-Saxon translation of Boethius
Anicius Manlius Severinus Boethius
Anicius Manlius Severinus Boëthius, commonly called Boethius was a philosopher of the early 6th century. He was born in Rome to an ancient and important family which included emperors Petronius Maximus and Olybrius and many consuls. His father, Flavius Manlius Boethius, was consul in 487 after...

' Consolation of Philosophy
Consolation of Philosophy
Consolation of Philosophy is a philosophical work by Boethius, written around the year 524. It has been described as the single most important and influential work in the West on Medieval and early Renaissance Christianity, and is also the last great Western work that can be called Classical.-...

, known as the Lays of Boethius
Lays of Boethius
The Metres of Boethius are a series of Old English alliterative poems adapted from the Latin metra of the 6th-century Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius. The Metres were produced shortly after King Alfred translated the Consolation of Philosophy in straightforward prose at the end of the 9th...

. Shippey contends that this Christian view of evil is most clearly stated by Boethius: "evil is nothing." He says Tolkien used the corollary that evil cannot create as the basis of Frodo
Frodo
Frodo may mean:*Frodo Baggins, a character in The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien*"Frodo", a song by New Zealand folk-duo Flight of the Conchords*Fróði, the name of a number of Danish kings, Latinized as Frodo*Frodo...

's remark, "the Shadow ... can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own," and related remarks by Treebeard
Treebeard
Treebeard is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy writings. The eldest of the species of Ents, he is said to live in the ancient Forest of Fangorn and stands fourteen feet in height and is tree-like in appearance, with leafy hair and a rigid structure. Fangorn Forest...

 and Elrond
Elrond
Elrond Half-elven is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is introduced in The Hobbit, and plays a supporting role in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion.-Character overview:...

. He goes on to argue that in
The Lord of the Rings evil does sometimes seem to be an independent force, more than merely the absence of good (though not independent to the point of the Manichaean heresy
Manichaeism
Manichaeism in Modern Persian Āyin e Māni; ) was one of the major Iranian Gnostic religions, originating in Sassanid Persia.Although most of the original writings of the founding prophet Mani have been lost, numerous translations and fragmentary texts have survived...

), and suggests that Alfred's additions to his translation of Boethius may have inspired that view.

Another interesting argument is Stratford Caldecott's theological view on the Ring and what it represents. "The Ring of Power exemplifies the dark magic of the corrupted will, the assertion of self in disobedience to God. It appears to give freedom, but its true function is to enslave the wearer to the Fallen Angel. It corrodes the human will of the wearer, rendering him increasingly “thin” and unreal; indeed, its gift of invisibility symbolizes this ability to destroy all natural human relationships and identity. You could say the Ring is sin itself: tempting and seemingly harmless to begin with, increasingly hard to give up and corrupting in the long run".

Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics

As well as his fiction, Tolkien was also a leading author of academic literary criticism. His seminal 1936 lecture, later published as an article, revolutionized the treatment of the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf
Beowulf
Beowulf , but modern scholars agree in naming it after the hero whose life is its subject." of an Old English heroic epic poem consisting of 3182 alliterative long lines, set in Scandinavia, commonly cited as one of the most important works of Anglo-Saxon literature.It survives in a single...

by literary critics. The essay remains highly influential in the study of Old English literature to this day. Beowulf is one of the most significant influences upon Tolkien's later fiction, with major details of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings being adapted from the poem. The piece reveals many of the aspects of Beowulf which Tolkien found most inspiring, most prominently the role of monsters in literature, particularly that of the dragon which appears in the final third of the poem:


As for the poem, one dragon, however hot, does not make a summer, or a host; and a man might well exchange for one good dragon what he would not sell for a wilderness. And dragons, real dragons, essential both to the machinery and the ideas of a poem or tale, are actually rare.

The Silmarillion

Tolkien wrote a brief "Sketch of the Mythology" which included the tales of Beren and Lúthien and of Túrin, and that sketch eventually evolved into the Quenta Silmarillion
Quenta Silmarillion
Quenta Silmarillion is a collection of fictional legends written by the high fantasy writer J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published after the author's death in The Silmarillion together with four shorter stories...

, an epic history that Tolkien started three times but never published. Tolkien desperately hoped to publish it along with The Lord of the Rings, but publishers (both Allen & Unwin
Allen & Unwin
Allen & Unwin, formerly a major British publishing house, is now an independent book publisher and distributor based in Australia. The Australian directors have been the sole owners of the Allen & Unwin name since effecting a management buy out at the time the UK parent company, Unwin Hyman, was...

 and Collins
HarperCollins
HarperCollins is a publishing company owned by News Corporation. It is the combination of the publishers William Collins, Sons and Co Ltd, a British company, and Harper & Row, an American company, itself the result of an earlier merger of Harper & Brothers and Row, Peterson & Company. The worldwide...

) got cold feet. Moreover, printing costs were very high in 1950s Britain, requiring
The Lord of the Rings to be published in three volumes. The story of this continuous redrafting is told in the posthumous series The History of Middle-earth
The History of Middle-earth
The History of Middle-earth is a 12-volume series of books published from 1983 through to 1996 that collect and analyse material relating to the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, compiled and edited by his son, Christopher Tolkien. Some of the content consists of earlier versions of already published...

, edited by Tolkien's son, Christopher Tolkien. From around 1936, Tolkien began to extend this framework to include the tale of The Fall of Númenor
Númenor
Númenor is a fictional place in J. R. R. Tolkien's writings. It was a huge island located in the Sundering Seas to the west of Middle-earth, the main setting of Tolkien's writings, and was known to be the greatest realm of Men...

, which was inspired by the legend of Atlantis
Atlantis
Atlantis is a legendary island first mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written about 360 BC....

. Published in 1977, the final work, entitled
The Silmarillion, received the Locus Award for Best Fantasy novel in 1978.

Children's books and other short works

In addition to his mythopoeic compositions, Tolkien enjoyed inventing fantasy stories to entertain his children. He wrote annual Christmas letters from Father Christmas
Father Christmas
Father Christmas is the name used in many English-speaking countries for a figure associated with Christmas. A similar figure with the same name exists in several other countries, including France , Spain , Brazil , Portugal , Italy , Armenia , India...

 for them, building up a series of short stories (later compiled and published as
The Father Christmas Letters
The Father Christmas Letters
The Father Christmas Letters is a collection of letters written and illustrated by J. R. R. Tolkien between 1920 and 1942 for his children, from "Father Christmas"...

). Other stories included Mr. Bliss
Mr. Bliss
Mr. Bliss is a children's picture book by J. R. R. Tolkien, published posthumously in book form in 1982. One of Tolkien's least-known short works, it tells the story of Mr. Bliss and his first ride in his new motor-car...

and Roverandom
Roverandom
"Roverandom" is a novella written by J.R.R. Tolkien, originally told in 1925. It deals with the adventures of a young dog, Rover. In the story, an irritable wizard turns Rover into a toy, and Rover goes to the moon and under the sea in order to find the wizard again to turn him back into a...

(for children), and Leaf by Niggle
Leaf by Niggle
"Leaf by Niggle" is a short story written by J. R. R. Tolkien in 1938–39 and first published in the Dublin Review in January 1945. It can be found, most notably, in Tolkien's book titled Tree and Leaf, and in other places...

(part of Tree and Leaf
Tree and Leaf
Tree and Leaf is a small book published in 1964, containing two works by J. R. R. Tolkien:* a revised version of an essay called "On Fairy-Stories"...

), The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil is a collection of poetry written by J. R. R. Tolkien and published in 1962. The book contains 16 poems, only two of which deal with Tom Bombadil, a character who is most famous for his encounter with Frodo Baggins in The Fellowship of the Ring...

, On Fairy-Stories
On Fairy-Stories
"On Fairy-Stories" is an essay by J. R. R. Tolkien which discusses the fairy-story as a literary form. It was initially written for presentation by Tolkien as the Andrew Lang lecture at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, in 1939. It first appeared in print, with some enhancement, in 1947, in...

, Smith of Wootton Major
Smith of Wootton Major
Smith of Wootton Major, first published in 1967, is a novella by J. R. R. Tolkien.-Background:The book began as an attempt to explain the meaning of Faery by means of a story about a cook and his cake. This was intended to be part of a preface by Tolkien to George MacDonald's famous fairy story...

and Farmer Giles of Ham
Farmer Giles of Ham
"Farmer Giles of Ham" is a Medieval fable written by J. R. R. Tolkien in 1937 and published in 1949. The story describes the encounters between Farmer Giles and a wily dragon named Chrysophylax, and how Giles manages to use these to rise from humble beginnings to rival the king of the land...

. Roverandom and Smith of Wootton Major, like The Hobbit, borrowed ideas from his legendarium.

The Hobbit

Tolkien never expected his stories to become popular, but by sheer accident a book called The Hobbit
The Hobbit
The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, better known by its abbreviated title The Hobbit, is a fantasy novel and children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was published on 21 September 1937 to wide critical acclaim, being nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald...

, which he had written some years before for his own children, came in 1936 to the attention of Susan Dagnall, an employee of the London publishing firm George Allen & Unwin, who persuaded Tolkien to submit it for publication. However, the book attracted adult readers as well as children, and it became popular enough for the publishers to ask Tolkien to produce a sequel.

The Lord of the Rings

The request for a sequel prompted Tolkien to begin what would become his most famous work: the epic novel
The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings is a high fantasy epic written by English philologist and University of Oxford professor J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit , but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in...

(originally published in three volumes 1954–1955). Tolkien spent more than ten years writing the primary narrative and appendices for The Lord of the Rings, during which time he received the constant support of the Inklings, in particular his closest friend Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia
The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven fantasy novels for children by C. S. Lewis. It is considered a classic of children's literature and is the author's best-known work, having sold over 100 million copies in 47 languages...

. Both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are set against the background of The Silmarillion, but in a time long after it.

Tolkien at first intended
The Lord of the Rings to be a children's tale in the style of The Hobbit, but it quickly grew darker and more serious in the writing. Though a direct sequel to The Hobbit, it addressed an older audience, drawing on the immense back story of Beleriand
Beleriand
In J. R. R. Tolkien's fictional legendarium, Beleriand was a region in northwestern Middle-earth during the First Age. Events in Beleriand are described chiefly in his work The Silmarillion, which tells the story of the early ages of Middle-earth in a style similar to the epic hero tales of Nordic...

 that Tolkien had constructed in previous years, and which eventually saw posthumous publication in
The Silmarillion and other volumes. Tolkien's influence weighs heavily on the fantasy genre that grew up after the success of The Lord of the Rings.

The Lord of the Rings became immensely popular in the 1960s and has remained so ever since, ranking as one of the most popular works of fiction of the 20th century, judged by both sales and reader surveys. In the 2003 "Big Read
Big Read
The Big Read was a survey on books carried out by the BBC in the United Kingdom in 2003, where over three quarters of a million votes were received from the British public to find the nation's best-loved novel of all time...

" survey conducted by the BBC,
The Lord of the Rings was found to be the "Nation's Best-loved Book". Australians voted The Lord of the Rings "My Favourite Book" in a 2004 survey conducted by the Australian ABC
Australian Broadcasting Corporation
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, commonly referred to as "the ABC" , is Australia's national public broadcaster...

. In a 1999 poll of Amazon.com
Amazon.com
Amazon.com, Inc. is a multinational electronic commerce company headquartered in Seattle, Washington, United States. It is the world's largest online retailer. Amazon has separate websites for the following countries: United States, Canada, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Japan, and...

 customers,
The Lord of the Rings was judged to be their favourite "book of the millennium". In 2002 Tolkien was voted the 92nd "greatest Briton
100 Greatest Britons
100 Greatest Britons was broadcast in 2002 by the BBC. The programme was the result of a vote conducted to determine whom the United Kingdom public considers the greatest British people in history. The series, Great Britons, included individual programmes on the top ten, with viewers having further...

" in a poll conducted by the BBC, and in 2004 he was voted 35th in the SABC3's Great South Africans
SABC3's Great South Africans
Great South Africans was a South African television series that aired on SABC3 and hosted by Noeleen Maholwana Sangqu and Denis Beckett. In September 2004, thousands of South Africans took part in an informal nationwide poll to determine the "100 Greatest South Africans" of all time...

, the only person to appear in both lists. His popularity is not limited to the English-speaking world: in a 2004 poll inspired by the UK's "Big Read" survey, about 250,000 Germans found The Lord of the Rings to be their favourite work of literature.

Posthumous publications

The Silmarillion

Tolkien had appointed his son Christopher to be his literary executor
Literary executor
A literary executor is a person with decision-making power in respect of a literary estate. According to Wills, Administration and Taxation: a practical guide "A will may appoint different executors to deal with different parts of the estate...

, and he (with assistance from Guy Gavriel Kay
Guy Gavriel Kay
Guy Gavriel Kay is a Canadian author of fantasy fiction. Many of his novels are set in fictional realms that resemble real places during real historical periods, such as Constantinople during the reign of Justinian I or Spain during the time of El Cid...

, later a well-known fantasy author in his own right) organized some of his father's unpublished material into a single coherent volume, published as
The Silmarillion in 1977
1977 in literature
The year 1977 in literature involved some significant events and new books.-Events:*Douglas Adams begins writing for BBC radio.*V. S. Naipaul declines the offer of a CBE....

—his father had previously attempted to get a collection of "Silmarillion" material published in 1937 before writing
The Lord of the Rings.

Unfinished Tales and The History of Middle-earth

In 1980
1980 in literature
The year 1980 in literature involved some significant events and new books.-Events:*Marguerite Yourcenar becomes the first woman to be elected to the Académie française....

 Christopher Tolkien published a collection of more fragmentary material, under the title
Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth
Unfinished Tales
Unfinished Tales is a collection of stories and essays by J. R. R. Tolkien that were never completed during his lifetime, but were edited by his son Christopher Tolkien and published in 1980.Unlike The Silmarillion, for which the narrative fragments were modified to connect into a consistent and...

. In subsequent years (1983
1983 in literature
The year 1983 in literature involved some significant events and new books.-Events:*Ironweed by William Kennedy is published.*Salvage for the Saint by Peter Bloxsom and John Kruse is published. This is the final book in a series of novels, novellas and short stories featuring the Leslie Charteris...

1996
1996 in literature
The year 1996 in literature involved some significant events and new books.-Events:*Harper Lee's novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, is removed from an advanced placement English reading list in Lindale, Texas because it "conflicted with the values of the community."* In the United Kingdom, the first...

) he published a large amount of the remaining unpublished materials, together with notes and extensive commentary, in a series of twelve volumes called
The History of Middle-earth
The History of Middle-earth
The History of Middle-earth is a 12-volume series of books published from 1983 through to 1996 that collect and analyse material relating to the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, compiled and edited by his son, Christopher Tolkien. Some of the content consists of earlier versions of already published...

. They contain unfinished, abandoned, alternative, and outright contradictory accounts, since they were always a work in progress for Tolkien and he only rarely settled on a definitive version for any of the stories. There is not complete consistency between The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, the two most closely related works, because Tolkien never fully integrated all their traditions into each other. He commented in 1965, while editing The Hobbit for a third edition, that he would have preferred to completely rewrite the book because of the style of its prose.

The Children of Húrin

More recently, in 2007, the collection was completed with the publication of The Children of Húrin
The Children of Húrin
The Children of Húrin is an epic fantasy novel which forms the completion of a tale by J. R. R. Tolkien. He wrote the original version of the story in the late 1910s, revised it several times later, but did not complete it before his death in 1973...

by HarperCollins
HarperCollins
HarperCollins is a publishing company owned by News Corporation. It is the combination of the publishers William Collins, Sons and Co Ltd, a British company, and Harper & Row, an American company, itself the result of an earlier merger of Harper & Brothers and Row, Peterson & Company. The worldwide...

 (in the UK and Canada) and Houghton Mifflin
Houghton Mifflin
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt is an educational and trade publisher in the United States. Headquartered in Boston's Back Bay, it publishes textbooks, instructional technology materials, assessments, reference works, and fiction and non-fiction for both young readers and adults.-History:The company was...

 (in the US). The novel tells the story of Túrin Turambar
Túrin Turambar
Túrin Turambar is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium. "Turambar and the Foalókë", begun in 1917, is the first appearance of Túrin in the legendarium. J.R.R...

 and his sister Nienor
Nienor
Niënor, also known as Níniel , is a fictional character from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, appearing in the Narn i Chîn Húrin told in full in The Children of Húrin and briefly in The Silmarillion...

, children of Húrin Thalion
Húrin
Húrin is a fictional character in the Middle-earth legendarium of J. R. R. Tolkien. He is introduced in The Silmarillion as a hero of Men during the First Age, said to be the greatest warrior of both the Edain and all the other Men in Middle-earth...

. The material was compiled by Christopher Tolkien from
The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales
Unfinished Tales
Unfinished Tales is a collection of stories and essays by J. R. R. Tolkien that were never completed during his lifetime, but were edited by his son Christopher Tolkien and published in 1980.Unlike The Silmarillion, for which the narrative fragments were modified to connect into a consistent and...

, The History of Middle-earth
The History of Middle-earth
The History of Middle-earth is a 12-volume series of books published from 1983 through to 1996 that collect and analyse material relating to the fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien, compiled and edited by his son, Christopher Tolkien. Some of the content consists of earlier versions of already published...

, and unpublished manuscripts.

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún

In February 2009, Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly, aka PW, is an American weekly trade news magazine targeted at publishers, librarians, booksellers and literary agents...

announced that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt had acquired the American rights to Tolkien's unpublished work The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún
The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún
The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún is a narrative poem composed by J. R. R. Tolkien. The book was released worldwide on May 5, 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and HarperCollins....

. The work, which was released worldwide on 5 May 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and HarperCollins, retells the legend of Sigurd
Sigurd
Sigurd is a legendary hero of Norse mythology, as well as the central character in the Völsunga saga. The earliest extant representations for his legend come in pictorial form from seven runestones in Sweden and most notably the Ramsund carving Sigurd (Old Norse: Sigurðr) is a legendary hero of...

 and the fall of the Niflungs from Germanic mythology. It is a narrative poem composed in alliterative verse
Alliterative verse
In prosody, alliterative verse is a form of verse that uses alliteration as the principal structuring device to unify lines of poetry, as opposed to other devices such as rhyme. The most commonly studied traditions of alliterative verse are those found in the oldest literature of many Germanic...

 and is modelled after the Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

 poetry of the Elder Edda. Christopher Tolkien supplied copious notes and commentary upon his father's work.

According to Christopher Tolkien, it is no longer possible to trace the exact date of the work's composition. On the basis of circumstantial evidence, he suggests that it dates from the 1930s. In his foreword he wrote, "He scarcely ever (to my knowledge) referred to them. For my part, I cannot recall any conversation with him on the subject until very near the end of his life, when he spoke of them to me, and tried unsuccessfully to find them." In a 1967 letter to W. H. Auden
W. H. Auden
Wystan Hugh Auden , who published as W. H. Auden, was an Anglo-American poet,The first definition of "Anglo-American" in the OED is: "Of, belonging to, or involving both England and America." See also the definition "English in origin or birth, American by settlement or citizenship" in See also...

, Tolkien wrote, "Thank you for your wonderful effort in translating and reorganizing The Song of the Sibyl
Völuspá
Völuspá is the first and best known poem of the Poetic Edda. It tells the story of the creation of the world and its coming end related by a völva addressing Odin...

. In return again I hope to send you, if I can lay my hands on it (I hope it isn't lost), a thing I did many years ago when trying to learn the art of writing alliterative poetry: an attempt to unify the lays about the Völsungs from the Elder Edda, written in the old eight-line fornyrðislag stanza."

Mr. Bliss

One of Tolkien's least-known short works is the children's storybook Mr. Bliss, published in 1982. It tells the story of Mr. Bliss
Mr. Bliss
Mr. Bliss is a children's picture book by J. R. R. Tolkien, published posthumously in book form in 1982. One of Tolkien's least-known short works, it tells the story of Mr. Bliss and his first ride in his new motor-car...

 and his first ride in his new motor-car. Many adventures follow: encounters with bears, angry neighbours, irate shopkeepers, and assorted collisions. The story was inspired by Tolkien's own vehicular mishaps with his first car, purchased in 1932. The bears were based on toy bears owned by Tolkien's sons. Tolkien was both author and illustrator of the book. He submitted it to his publishers as a balm to readers who were hungry for more from him after the success of The Hobbit. The lavish ink and coloured-pencil illustrations would have made production costs prohibitively expensive. Tolkien agreed to redraw the pictures in a simpler style, but then found he did not have time to do so. The book was published in 1982 as a facsimile of Tolkien's difficult-to-read illustrated manuscript, with a typeset transcription on each facing page.

Manuscript locations

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives at Marquette University
Marquette University
Marquette University is a private, coeducational, Jesuit, Roman Catholic university located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Founded by the Society of Jesus in 1881, the school is one of 28 member institutions of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities...

's John P. Raynor, S.J., Library in Milwaukee
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Milwaukee is the largest city in the U.S. state of Wisconsin, the 28th most populous city in the United States and 39th most populous region in the United States. It is the county seat of Milwaukee County and is located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan. According to 2010 census data, the...

, Wisconsin, preserves many of Tolkien's manuscripts; other original material is in Oxford University's Bodleian Library
Bodleian Library
The Bodleian Library , the main research library of the University of Oxford, is one of the oldest libraries in Europe, and in Britain is second in size only to the British Library...

. Marquette University has the manuscripts and proofs of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and other works, including Farmer Giles of Ham, while the Bodleian Library holds the papers containing Tolkien's Silmarillion mythology and his academic work.

In 2009, a partial draft of
Language and Human Nature
Language and Human Nature
Language and Human Nature is a joint literature project that was begun, but never completed, between C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien.In the 1940s, a news release from Lewis and Tolkien's publisher had announced that the book was to be published in 1950. However, the book was not published, and...

, which Tolkien had begun co-writing with C.S. Lewis but had never completed, was discovered at the Bodleian Library.

Linguistic career

Both Tolkien's academic career and his literary production are inseparable from his love of language and philology
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

. He specialized in English philology at university and in 1915 graduated with Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

 as special subject. He worked for the Oxford English Dictionary
Oxford English Dictionary
The Oxford English Dictionary , published by the Oxford University Press, is the self-styled premier dictionary of the English language. Two fully bound print editions of the OED have been published under its current name, in 1928 and 1989. The first edition was published in twelve volumes , and...

 from 1918 and is credited with having worked on a number of words starting with the letter W, including walrus
Walrus
The walrus is a large flippered marine mammal with a discontinuous circumpolar distribution in the Arctic Ocean and sub-Arctic seas of the Northern Hemisphere. The walrus is the only living species in the Odobenidae family and Odobenus genus. It is subdivided into three subspecies: the Atlantic...

, over which he struggled mightily. In 1920, he became Reader in English Language at the University of Leeds
University of Leeds
The University of Leeds is a British Redbrick university located in the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England...

, where he claimed credit for raising the number of students of linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

 from five to twenty. He gave courses in Old English heroic verse
Heroic verse
Heroic verse consists of the rhymed iambic line or heroic couplet. The term is used in English exclusively.In ancient literature, heroic verse was synonymous with the dactylic hexameter. It was in this measure that those typically heroic poems, the Iliad and Odyssey and the Aeneid were written...

, history of English, various Old English and Middle English
Middle English
Middle English is the stage in the history of the English language during the High and Late Middle Ages, or roughly during the four centuries between the late 11th and the late 15th century....

 texts, Old and Middle English philology, introductory Germanic
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

 philology, Gothic
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

, Old Icelandic, and Medieval Welsh
Middle Welsh language
Middle Welsh is the label attached to the Welsh language of the 12th to 14th centuries, of which much more remains than for any earlier period. This form of Welsh developed from Old Welsh....

. When in 1925, aged thirty-three, Tolkien applied for the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professorship of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College, Oxford
Pembroke College, Oxford
Pembroke College is one of the constituent colleges of the University of Oxford in England, located in Pembroke Square. As of 2009, Pembroke had an estimated financial endowment of £44.9 million.-History:...

, he boasted that his students of Germanic philology in Leeds had even formed a "Viking Club
Viking revival
Early modern publications dealing with Old Norse culture appeared in the 16th century, e.g. Historia de gentibus septentrionalibus and the first edition of the13th century Gesta Danorum , in 1514...

". He also had a certain, if imperfect, knowledge of Finnish.

Privately, Tolkien was attracted to "things of racial and linguistic significance", and in his 1955 lecture English and Welsh
English and Welsh
English and Welsh is the title of J. R. R. Tolkien'svaledictory address to the University of Oxford of 1955.The lecture sheds light on Tolkien's conceptions of the connections of race, ethnicity and language....

, which is crucial to his understanding of race and language, he entertained notions of "inherent linguistic predilections", which he termed the "native language" as opposed to the "cradle-tongue" which a person first learns to speak. He considered the West Midlands
West Midlands (region)
The West Midlands is an official region of England, covering the western half of the area traditionally known as the Midlands. It contains the second most populous British city, Birmingham, and the larger West Midlands conurbation, which includes the city of Wolverhampton and large towns of Dudley,...

 dialect of Middle English to be his own "native language", and, as he wrote to W. H. Auden
W. H. Auden
Wystan Hugh Auden , who published as W. H. Auden, was an Anglo-American poet,The first definition of "Anglo-American" in the OED is: "Of, belonging to, or involving both England and America." See also the definition "English in origin or birth, American by settlement or citizenship" in See also...

 in 1955, "I am a West-midlander by blood (and took to early west-midland Middle English as a known tongue as soon as I set eyes on it)."

Tolkien learned Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

, French, and German from his mother, and while at school he learned Middle English, Old English, Finnish, Gothic
Gothic language
Gothic is an extinct Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable Text corpus...

, Greek, Italian, Old Norse
Old Norse
Old Norse is a North Germanic language that was spoken by inhabitants of Scandinavia and inhabitants of their overseas settlements during the Viking Age, until about 1300....

, Spanish, Welsh, and Medieval Welsh. He was also familiar with Danish, Dutch, Lombardic
Lombardic language
Lombardic or Langobardic is the extinct language of the Lombards , the Germanic speaking people who settled in Italy in the 6th century. The language declined rapidly already in the 7th century as the invaders quickly adopted the Latin vernacular spoken by the local Roman population. E.g...

, Norwegian, Russian, Serbian, Swedish and older forms of modern Germanic and Slavonic languages, revealing his deep linguistic knowledge, above all of the Germanic languages
Germanic languages
The Germanic languages constitute a sub-branch of the Indo-European language family. The common ancestor of all of the languages in this branch is called Proto-Germanic , which was spoken in approximately the mid-1st millennium BC in Iron Age northern Europe...

.

Language construction

Parallel to Tolkien's professional work as a philologist, and sometimes overshadowing this work, to the effect that his academic output remained rather thin, was his affection for constructing languages. The most developed of these are Quenya
Quenya
Quenya is a fictional language devised by J. R. R. Tolkien, and used in his Secondary world, often called Middle-earth.Quenya is one of the many Elvish languages spoken by the immortal Elves, called Quendi in Quenya. The tongue actually called Quenya was in origin the speech of two clans of Elves...

 and Sindarin
Sindarin
Sindarin is a fictional language devised by J. R. R. Tolkien, and used in his secondary world, often called Middle-earth.Sindarin is one of the many languages spoken by the immortal Elves, called the Eledhrim or Edhellim in Sindarin....

, the etymological connection between which formed the core of much of Tolkien's legendarium. Language and grammar for Tolkien was a matter of aesthetics
Aesthetics
Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste...

 and euphony
Euphony
Phonaesthetics is the claim or study of inherent pleasantness or beauty or unpleasantness of the sound of certain words and sentences. Poetry is considered euphonic, as is well-crafted literary prose...

, and Quenya in particular was designed from "phonaesthetic" considerations; it was intended as an "Elvenlatin", and was phonologically based on Latin, with ingredients from Finnish, Welsh, English, and Greek. A notable addition came in late 1945 with Adûnaic
Adûnaic
Adûnaic is a fictional language in the fantasy works of J. R. R. Tolkien.One of the languages of Arda in Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium, it was spoken by the Men of Númenor during the Second Age.-Fictional history:...

 or Númenórean, a language of a "faintly Semitic
Semitic languages
The Semitic languages are a group of related languages whose living representatives are spoken by more than 270 million people across much of the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa...

 flavour", connected with Tolkien's Atlantis
Atlantis
Atlantis is a legendary island first mentioned in Plato's dialogues Timaeus and Critias, written about 360 BC....

 legend, which by The Notion Club Papers
The Notion Club Papers
The Notion Club Papers is the title of an abandoned novel by J. R. R. Tolkien, written during 1945 and published posthumously in Sauron Defeated, the 9th volume of The History of Middle-earth. It is a space/time/dream travel story, written at the same time as The Lord of the Rings was being developed...

ties directly into his ideas about inability of language to be inherited, and via the "Second Age
Second Age
The Second Age is a time period from J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth fantasy writings. Tolkien intended for the history of Middle-earth to be considered fictionally as a precursor to the history of the real Earth....

" and the story of Eärendil
Eärendil
Eärendil the Mariner is a fictional character in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium. He is depicted in The Silmarillion as a great seafarer who, on his brow, carried the morning star across the sky.-Etymology:...

 was grounded in the
legendarium, thereby providing a link of Tolkien's 20th-century "real primary world" with the legendary past of his Middle-earth.

Tolkien considered languages inseparable from the mythology associated with them, and he consequently took a dim view of auxiliary languages
International auxiliary language
An international auxiliary language or interlanguage is a language meant for communication between people from different nations who do not share a common native language...

: in 1930 a congress of Esperantists were told as much by him, in his lecture
A Secret Vice
A Secret Vice
A Secret Vice is the title of a lecture written by J. R. R. Tolkien in 1931, given at a conference. Some twenty years later, Tolkien revised the manuscript for a second presentation....

, "Your language construction will breed a mythology", but by 1956 he had concluded that "Volapük
Volapük
Volapük is a constructed language, created in 1879–1880 by Johann Martin Schleyer, a Roman Catholic priest in Baden, Germany. Schleyer felt that God had told him in a dream to create an international language. Volapük conventions took place in 1884 , 1887 and 1889 . The first two conventions used...

, Esperanto
Esperanto
is the most widely spoken constructed international auxiliary language. Its name derives from Doktoro Esperanto , the pseudonym under which L. L. Zamenhof published the first book detailing Esperanto, the Unua Libro, in 1887...

, Ido
Ido
Ido is a constructed language created with the goal of becoming a universal second language for speakers of different linguistic backgrounds as a language easier to learn than ethnic languages...

, Novial
Novial
Novial [nov- + IAL, International Auxiliary Language] is a constructed international auxiliary language intended to facilitate international communication and friendship, without displacing anyone's native language...

, &c, &c, are dead, far deader than ancient unused languages, because their authors never invented any Esperanto legends".

The popularity of Tolkien's books has had a small but lasting effect on the use of language in fantasy literature in particular, and even on mainstream dictionaries, which today commonly accept Tolkien's idiosyncratic spellings dwarves and dwarvish (alongside dwarfs and dwarfish), which had been little used since the mid-19th century and earlier. (In fact, according to Tolkien, had the Old English plural survived, it would have been dwerrow.) He also coined the term eucatastrophe
Eucatastrophe
Eucatastrophe is a term coined by J. R. R. Tolkien which refers to the sudden turn of events at the end of a story which result in the protagonist's well-being. He formed the word by affixing the Greek prefix eu, meaning good, to catastrophe, the word traditionally used in classically-inspired...

, though it remains mainly used in connection with his own work.

Adaptations

In a 1951 letter to Milton Waldman, Tolkien wrote about his intentions to create a "body of more or less connected legend", of which "[t]he cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama". The hands and minds of many artists have indeed been inspired by Tolkien's legends. Personally known to him were Pauline Baynes
Pauline Baynes
Pauline Diana Baynes was an English book illustrator, whose work encompassed more than 100 books, notably those by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien. She was born in Hove, Sussex....

 (Tolkien's favourite illustrator of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil is a collection of poetry written by J. R. R. Tolkien and published in 1962. The book contains 16 poems, only two of which deal with Tom Bombadil, a character who is most famous for his encounter with Frodo Baggins in The Fellowship of the Ring...

and Farmer Giles of Ham
Farmer Giles of Ham
"Farmer Giles of Ham" is a Medieval fable written by J. R. R. Tolkien in 1937 and published in 1949. The story describes the encounters between Farmer Giles and a wily dragon named Chrysophylax, and how Giles manages to use these to rise from humble beginnings to rival the king of the land...

) and Donald Swann
Donald Swann
Donald Ibrahím Swann was a British composer, musician and entertainer. He is best known to the general public for his partnership of writing and performing comic songs with Michael Flanders .-Life:...

 (who set the music to
The Road Goes Ever On
The Road Goes Ever On
The Road Goes Ever On is a song cycle that has been published as sheet music and as an audio recording. The music was written by Donald Swann, and the words are taken from poems in J. R. R. Tolkien's Middle-earth writings, especially The Lord of the Rings.The title of this opus is taken from "The...

). Queen Margrethe II of Denmark
Margrethe II of Denmark
Margrethe II is the Queen regnant of the Kingdom of Denmark. In 1972 she became the first female monarch of Denmark since Margaret I, ruler of the Scandinavian countries in 1375-1412 during the Kalmar Union.-Early life:...

 created illustrations to
The Lord of the Rings in the early 1970s. She sent them to Tolkien, who was struck by the similarity they bore in style to his own drawings.

However, Tolkien was not fond of all the artistic representation of his works that were produced in his lifetime, and was sometimes harshly disapproving. In 1946, he rejected suggestions for illustrations by Horus Engels for the German edition of
The Hobbit as "too Disnified
The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company is the largest media conglomerate in the world in terms of revenue. Founded on October 16, 1923, by Walt and Roy Disney as the Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio, Walt Disney Productions established itself as a leader in the American animation industry before diversifying into...

 ... Bilbo with a dribbling nose, and Gandalf
Gandalf
Gandalf is a character in J. R. R. Tolkien's novels The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. In these stories, Gandalf appears as a wizard, member and later the head of the order known as the Istari, as well as leader of the Fellowship of the Ring and the army of the West...

 as a figure of vulgar fun rather than the Odin
Odin
Odin is a major god in Norse mythology and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon "Wōden" and the Old High German "Wotan", the name is descended from Proto-Germanic "*Wodanaz" or "*Wōđanaz"....

ic wanderer that I think of".

Tolkien was sceptical of the emerging Tolkien fandom
Tolkien fandom
Tolkien fandom is an international, informal community of fans of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, especially of the Middle-earth legendarium which includes The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion...

 in the United States, and in 1954 he returned proposals for the dust jackets of the American edition of
The Lord of the Rings:
He had dismissed dramatic representations of fantasy in his essay "On Fairy-Stories
On Fairy-Stories
"On Fairy-Stories" is an essay by J. R. R. Tolkien which discusses the fairy-story as a literary form. It was initially written for presentation by Tolkien as the Andrew Lang lecture at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, in 1939. It first appeared in print, with some enhancement, in 1947, in...

", first presented in 1939:
On receiving a screenplay
Screenplay
A screenplay or script is a written work that is made especially for a film or television program. Screenplays can be original works or adaptations from existing pieces of writing. In them, the movement, actions, expression, and dialogues of the characters are also narrated...

 for a proposed film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings by Morton Grady Zimmerman, Tolkien wrote:
Tolkien went on to criticize the script scene by scene ("yet one more scene of screams and rather meaningless slashings"). He was not implacably opposed to the idea of a dramatic adaptation, however, and sold the film, stage and merchandise rights of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists
United Artists
United Artists Corporation is an American film studio. The original studio of that name was founded in 1919 by D. W. Griffith, Charles Chaplin, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks....

 in 1968. United Artists never made a film, although director John Boorman
John Boorman
John Boorman is a British filmmaker who is a long time resident of Ireland and is best known for his feature films such as Point Blank, Deliverance, Zardoz, Excalibur, The Emerald Forest, Hope and Glory, The General and The Tailor of Panama.-Early life:Boorman was born in Shepperton, Surrey,...

 was planning a live-action film in the early 1970s. In 1976 the rights were sold to Tolkien Enterprises
Tolkien Enterprises
Middle-earth Enterprises, formerly known as Tolkien Enterprises, is a trading name for a division of the Saul Zaentz Company based in Berkeley, California which owns the worldwide exclusive rights to certain elements of J. R. R. Tolkien's two most famous literary works; The Lord of the Rings and...

, a division of the Saul Zaentz
Saul Zaentz
Saul Zaentz is an American film producer and former record company executive. He has won the Academy Award for Best Picture three times and in 1996 was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award....

 Company, and the first movie adaptation of
The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings (1978 film)
J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings is a 1978 American fantasy film directed by Ralph Bakshi. It contains both animation and live action footage which is rotoscoped to give it a more consistent look throughout the length of the movie. It is an adaptation of the first half of the high fantasy...

 appeared in 1978, an animated rotoscoping film directed by Ralph Bakshi
Ralph Bakshi
Ralph Bakshi is an Israeli-American director of animated and live-action films. In the 1970s, he established an alternative to mainstream animation through independent and adult-oriented productions. Between 1972 and 1992, he directed nine theatrically released feature films, five of which he wrote...

 with screenplay by the fantasy writer Peter S. Beagle
Peter S. Beagle
Peter Soyer Beagle is an American fantasist and author of novels, nonfiction, and screenplays. His most notable works include the novels The Last Unicorn, A Fine and Private Place and Tamsin, and the award-winning story "Two Hearts".-Career:Beagle won early recognition from The Scholastic Art &...

. It covered only the first half of the story of
The Lord of the Rings. In 1977 an animated TV production of The Hobbit was made by Rankin-Bass, and in 1980 they produced an animated The Return of the King
The Return of the King (1980 film)
The Return of the King, also known as The Return of the King: A Story of the Hobbits, is a 1980 animated television special created by Rankin/Bass and Topcraft. The film is an adaptation of the third volume in The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R...

, which covered some of the portions of The Lord of the Rings that Bakshi was unable to complete.

From 2001 to 2003, New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema
New Line Cinema, often simply referred to as New Line, is an American film studio. It was founded in 1967 by Robert Shaye and Michael Lynne as a film distributor, later becoming an independent film studio. It became a subsidiary of Time Warner in 1996 and was merged with larger sister studio Warner...

 released
The Lord of the Rings
The Lord of the Rings film trilogy
The Lord of the Rings is an epic film trilogy consisting of three fantasy adventure films based on the three-volume book of the same name by English author J. R. R. Tolkien. The films are The Fellowship of the Ring , The Two Towers and The Return of the King .The films were directed by Peter...

 as a trilogy of live-action films that were filmed in New Zealand and directed by Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson
Sir Peter Robert Jackson, KNZM is a New Zealand film director, producer, actor, and screenwriter, known for his The Lord of the Rings film trilogy , adapted from the novel by J. R. R...

. The series was successful, performing extremely well commercially and winning numerous Oscars
Academy Awards
An Academy Award, also known as an Oscar, is an accolade bestowed by the American Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences to recognize excellence of professionals in the film industry, including directors, actors, and writers...

.

There are currently plans for a two-film series based on
The Hobbit (see The Hobbit (2012 film)). The films are scheduled for release in December 2012 and December 2013. Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson
Sir Peter Robert Jackson, KNZM is a New Zealand film director, producer, actor, and screenwriter, known for his The Lord of the Rings film trilogy , adapted from the novel by J. R. R...

 will serve as executive producer, director and co-writer.

Memorials

Posthumously named after Tolkien are the Tolkien Road in Eastbourne
Eastbourne
Eastbourne is a large town and borough in East Sussex, on the south coast of England between Brighton and Hastings. The town is situated at the eastern end of the chalk South Downs alongside the high cliff at Beachy Head...

, East Sussex
East Sussex
East Sussex is a county in South East England. It is bordered by the counties of Kent, Surrey and West Sussex, and to the south by the English Channel.-History:...

, and the asteroid
Asteroid
Asteroids are a class of small Solar System bodies in orbit around the Sun. They have also been called planetoids, especially the larger ones...

 2675 Tolkien
2675 Tolkien
2675 Tolkien is a small main belt asteroid, which was discovered by M. Watt in 1982. It is named after J.R.R. Tolkien, a philologist, university professor, and author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings....

 discovered in 1982. Tolkien Way in Stoke-on-Trent
Stoke-on-Trent
Stoke-on-Trent , also called The Potteries is a city in Staffordshire, England, which forms a linear conurbation almost 12 miles long, with an area of . Together with the Borough of Newcastle-under-Lyme Stoke forms The Potteries Urban Area...

 is named after Tolkien's eldest son, Fr. John Francis Tolkien, who was the priest in charge at the nearby Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Angels and St. Peter in Chains. There is also a professorship in Tolkien's name at Oxford, the J.R.R. Tolkien Professor of English Literature and Language.

In the Dutch town of Geldrop
Geldrop
Geldrop is a town in the Dutch province of North Brabant. It is located in the municipality of Geldrop-Mierlo.Geldrop was a separate municipality until 2004, when it merged with Mierlo...

, near Eindhoven, the streets of an entire new neighbourhood are named after Tolkien himself ("Laan van Tolkien") and some of the best-known characters from his books. A gaff-topsail schooner
Schooner
A schooner is a type of sailing vessel characterized by the use of fore-and-aft sails on two or more masts with the forward mast being no taller than the rear masts....

 of Netherlands
Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

 registry used for passenger cruises on the Baltic Sea
Baltic Sea
The Baltic Sea is a brackish mediterranean sea located in Northern Europe, from 53°N to 66°N latitude and from 20°E to 26°E longitude. It is bounded by the Scandinavian Peninsula, the mainland of Europe, and the Danish islands. It drains into the Kattegat by way of the Øresund, the Great Belt and...

 and elsewhere in European waters was named J.R. Tolkien
J.R. Tolkien (schooner)
The J.R. Tolkien is a gaff-topsail schooner of Netherlands registry used for passenger cruises on the Baltic Sea and elsewhere in European waters....

in 1998.

In the Hall Green
Hall Green
Not to be confused with Hall Green, Wolverhampton or Hall Green, SandwellHall Green is an area and ward in south Birmingham, England. It is also a council constituency, managed by its own district committee...

 and Moseley
Moseley
Moseley is a suburb of Birmingham, England, two miles south of the city centre. The area is a popular cosmopolitan residential location and leisure destination, with a number of bars and restaurants...

 areas of Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

 there are a number of parks and walkways dedicated to J. R. R. Tolkien—most notably, the Millstream Way and Moseley Bog
Moseley Bog
Moseley Bog is a nature reserve in the Moseley area of Birmingham in England, at .It was once a secondary reservoir to feed the millpond of Sarehole Mill. Although now drained, the embankment on its eastern side remains...

. Collectively the parks are known as the Shire Country Parks. Every year at Sarehole Mill the Tolkien Weekend is held in memory of the author; the fiftieth anniversary of the release of
The Lord of the Rings was commemorated in 2005.

In the Silicon Valley towns of Saratoga
Saratoga, California
Saratoga is a city in Santa Clara County, California, USA. It is located on the west side of the Santa Clara Valley, directly west of San Jose, in the San Francisco Bay area. The population was 29,926 at the 2010 census....

 and San Jose
San Jose, California
San Jose is the third-largest city in California, the tenth-largest in the U.S., and the county seat of Santa Clara County which is located at the southern end of San Francisco Bay...

 in California, there are two housing developments with street names drawn from Tolkien's works. At the University of California at Davis are "Baggins End Innovative Housing", an on-campus commune consisting of 14 polyurethane-insulated fibreglass domes, and an off-campus development known as "Village Homes", a planned community designed to be ecologically sustainable and whose street names are taken from The Lord of the Rings. At the University of California at Irvine
University of California, Irvine
The University of California, Irvine , founded in 1965, is one of the ten campuses of the University of California, located in Irvine, California, USA...

 is the "Middle Earth" housing community where each building is named after a place in
The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings. At the University of California, Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley , is a teaching and research university established in 1868 and located in Berkeley, California, USA...

, the Berkeley Student Cooperative includes a vegetarian theme house known as Lothlorien, whose residents are known as "elves".

The Columbia
Columbia, Maryland
Columbia is a planned community that consists of ten self-contained villages, located in Howard County, Maryland, United States. It began with the idea that a city could enhance its residents' quality of life. Creator and developer James W. Rouse saw the new community in terms of human values, not...

, Maryland neighbourhood of Hobbit's Glen and its street names (including Rivendell
Rivendell
Rivendell is an Elven outpost in Middle-earth, a fictional realm created by J. R. R. Tolkien. It was established and ruled by Elrond in the Second Age of Middle-earth...

 Lane, Tooks Way, and Oakenshield Circle) come from Tolkien's works. There is also a Hobbit Restaurant in Ocean City
Ocean City, Maryland
Ocean City, sometimes known as OC, or OCMD, is an Atlantic Ocean resort town in Worcester County, Maryland, United States. Ocean City is widely known in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States and is a frequent destination for vacationers in that area...

, Maryland.

Since 2003 The Tolkien Society in organizing Tolkien Reading Day
Tolkien reading day
Tolkien Reading Day is an annual event, launched by The Tolkien Society in 2003, that takes place on March 25th. It has the aim of encouraging the reading of the works of J. R. R. Tolkien, and the use of Tolkien's works in education and library groups...

, that takes place on 25 March.

Commemorative plaques

There are five blue plaque
Blue plaque
A blue plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person or event, serving as a historical marker....

s that commemorate places associated with Tolkien: one in Oxford, and four in Birmingham
Birmingham
Birmingham is a city and metropolitan borough in the West Midlands of England. It is the most populous British city outside the capital London, with a population of 1,036,900 , and lies at the heart of the West Midlands conurbation, the second most populous urban area in the United Kingdom with a...

. One of the Birmingham plaques commemorates the inspiration provided by Sarehole Mill, near which he lived between the ages of four and eight, while two others mark childhood homes up to the time he left to attend Oxford University. The third one marks a hotel he stayed at while on leave from World War I. The Oxford plaque commemorates the residence where Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and most of The Lord of the Rings.
Address Commemoration Date unveiled Issued by
Sarehole Mill
Sarehole Mill
Sarehole Mill is a Grade II listed water mill on the River Cole in Hall Green, Birmingham, England. It is now run as a museum by the Birmingham City Council. It is one of only two working water mills in Birmingham, with the other being New Hall Mill in Walmley, Sutton Coldfield.Built in 1542 on...


Hall Green
Hall Green
Not to be confused with Hall Green, Wolverhampton or Hall Green, SandwellHall Green is an area and ward in south Birmingham, England. It is also a council constituency, managed by its own district committee...

, Birmingham
"Inspired" 1896–1900
(i. e. lived nearby)
15 August 2002 Birmingham Civic Society and
The Tolkien Society
1 Duchess Place
Ladywood
Ladywood
Ladywood is an inner-city area in Birmingham, England. It is a council constituency, managed by its own district committee. The constituency includes the smaller Ladywood ward and the wards of Aston, Nechells and Soho. In June 2004, Birmingham City Council conducted a city-wide "Ward Boundary...

, Birmingham
Lived near here 1902–1910 Unknown Birmingham Civic Society
4 Highfield Road
Edgbaston
Edgbaston
Edgbaston is an area in the city of Birmingham in England. It is also a formal district, managed by its own district committee. The constituency includes the smaller Edgbaston ward and the wards of Bartley Green, Harborne and Quinton....

, Birmingham
Lived here 1910–1911 Unknown Birmingham Civic Society and
The Tolkien Society
Plough and Harrow
Hagley Road, Birmingham
Stayed here June 1916 June 1997 The Tolkien Society
20 Northmoor Road
Northmoor Road
Northmoor Road is a road in North Oxford, England. It runs north-south parallel to and east of the Banbury Road. At the northern end is a junction with Belbroughton Road and to the south is a junction with Bardwell Road, location of the Dragon School...


North Oxford
North Oxford
North Oxford is a suburban part of the city of Oxford in England. It was owned for many centuries largely by St John's College, Oxford and many of the area's Victorian houses were initially sold on leasehold by the College....

Lived here 1930–1947 3 December 2002 Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board
Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board
The Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board, established in 1999, is administered by the Oxford Civic Society. It oversees the installation of blue plaques on historic buildings in the county of Oxfordshire, England to commemorate famous residents and events...



Another two plaques marking buildings associated with Tolkien are found in Oxford and Harrogate
Harrogate
Harrogate is a spa town in North Yorkshire, England. The town is a tourist destination and its visitor attractions include its spa waters, RHS Harlow Carr gardens, and Betty's Tea Rooms. From the town one can explore the nearby Yorkshire Dales national park. Harrogate originated in the 17th...

. The Harrogate plaque commemorates a residence where Tolkien convalesced from trench fever
Trench fever
Trench fever is a moderately serious disease transmitted by body lice. It infected armies in Flanders, France, Poland, Galicia, Italy, Salonika, Macedonia, Mesopotamia, and Egypt in World War I Trench fever (also known as "Five day fever", "Quintan fever" (febris Quintana in Latin), "Urban trench...

 in 1917, while the Oxford plaque marks his home from 1953–1968 at 76 Sandfield Road
Sandfield Road
Sandfield Road is a road in the suburb of Headington, Oxford, England. It is close to the John Radcliffe Hospital.- Notable residents :Hugo Dyson, a member of the Oxford literary group called the Inklings, lived at 32 Sandfield Road until his death in 1975....

, Headington
Headington
Headington is a suburb of Oxford, England. It is at the top of Headington Hill overlooking the city in the Thames Valley below. The life of the large residential area is centred upon London Road, the main road between London and Oxford.-History:...

.

General references

 
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