Spotlight On: J. R. R. Tolkien

Hi everyone,

Today’s post is another installment of my “Spotlight On:…” series. This month I’m going to be writing about J.R.R. Tolkien.

As always, the post will be divided up into 6 different parts:

1. A little bit about their life

2. Their works I have read

3. Their works I am yet to read

4. Great film/TV adaptations based on their works

5. Quotes

6. An author biography recommendation

So without further ado…


A Little Bit About Their Life

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born 3rd January 1892 in Bloemfontein, South Africa to Arthur Tolkien and Mabel Suffield Tolkien. After Arthur died when Tolkien was four, the family settled in Birmingham, England. In 1900, Mabel converted to Roman Catholicism. On her death in 1904, Tolkien and his brother, Hilary, became wards of a Catholic priest. Whilst there, Tolkien fell in love with another orphan called Edith Bratt, who would end up inspiring his fictional character of Lúthien. His ward disapproved of this relationship and Tolkien was not able to ask Edith to marry him until he turned twenty-one. He attened King Edward’s School in Birmingham and Exeter College and achieved a first-class degree specialising in Anglo-Saxon and Germanic languages along with classic literature.

Tolkien enlisted and served in World War I. He fought in the Battle of the Somme and was eventually released from duty due to illness. During his military service, he married Edith Bratt in 1916. He also made sure to keep writing during this time.

In 1920, Tolkien continued with his linguistic studies and joined the faculty of University of Leeds and later became a professor at Oxford University. Whilst he was there, he started a writing group called The Inklings which C.S. Lewis was also a member of. It was at Oxford University, during the marking of a paper, that he wrote the first line of The Hobbit.

Tolkien and Edith had four children together and it was through Tolkien telling his children stories that The Hobbit came about. In 1937, The Hobbit was published complete with illustrations by Tolkien himself and it became so popular that his publisher asked for a sequel. Seventeen years later, The Lord of the Rings was published. Contrary to popular belief, The Lord of the Rings is not a trilogy and was only divided because of its bulky size and to reduce the risk to the publisher should it prove to be unsuccessful.

Tolkien retired from his role as a professor in 1959. His wife Edith died in 1971 and Tolkien died on 2nd September 1973 at the age of 81.


Their Works I Have Read/Am Yet to Read

I have read (and loved!) The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. I’m looking forward to reading The Silmarillion, Beren and Lúthien, The Father Christmas Letters and all his short stories and unfinished collections. The longer I can spend in his mind, living in his fantasy world, the better.


Great Film/TV Adaptations

Obviously the answer for this is The Lord of the Rings film trilogy and The Hobbit film trilogy are both fantastic and I would recommend you to watch both series. Just so long as you’ve got 17 hours to spare!


Quotes

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”

“Fantasy is escapist, and that is its glory. If a soldier is imprisioned by the enemy, don’t we consider it his duty to escape?. . .If we value the freedom of mind and soul, if we’re partisans of liberty, then it’s our plain duty to escape, and to take as many people with us as we can!”

“I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil.”

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

“All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king.”


An Author Biography Recommendation

If you want to learn more about J. R. R. Tolkien, his life and how he made his stories come to life, I would recommend reading Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien by Humphrey Carpenter and Christopher Tolkien.


Which of J. R. R. Tolkien’s works have you enjoyed?

Thanks for reading!

Love, Zoë xx

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