The Author – J. R. R. TOLKIEN (1892 – 1973)
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa, and after
his father died when he was still comparatively young, his mother returned home to England. He was educated in Birmingham and after his mother’s death when he was 12; he was cared for by a Roman Catholic
His studies at Oxford University were interrupted by World War I. He
enlisted for the Lancashire Fusiliers and served throughout the war until the Armistice was signed. During this time he was also married.
He completed his studies and received his Master of Arts Degree in 1919.
He was involved in the production of the Oxford English Dictionary, which
complemented his interest in languages. He was a Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College, Oxford and became a Fellow of the College after 20 years service. He also received an Honorary Fellowship
from Exeter College, and was awarded a C.B.E.
Almost as a sideline, he dabbled in writing, which stemmed from his study of
the medieval works of Chaucer and Beowulf.
His first major book The Hobbit was published when he was 45 and was an
immediate success. This is because at that time it was wholly original and appealed to all ages.
The 1st volume of The Lord of the Rings was published in 1954 and was closely followed by the 2nd and 3rd volumes. Since that time, sales of these books have been very high, on both sides of the Atlantic. Another book in this series is The Silmarillion, published in 1977 after Tolkien’s death, and which was edited by Christopher Tolkien, his son.
Tolkien’s works soon attracted a cult following and there has been numerous
spin-off items of merchandise from posters, to maps and other publications.
Work on The Lord of the Rings had occupied Tolkien over a long period of
time from 1936 until 1949.
On his death in 1973, he left behind a store of manuscripts concerning his creation of Middle Earth and
developing its history.