90 Facts About Tolkien


John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was an English writer and philologist.

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Tolkien was the author of the high fantasy works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

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From 1925 to 1945, Tolkien was the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon and a Fellow of Pembroke College, both at the University of Oxford.

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Tolkien then moved within the same university to become the Merton Professor of English Language and Literature and Fellow of Merton College, and held these positions from 1945 until his retirement in 1959.

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Tolkien was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 March 1972.

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Between 1951 and 1955, Tolkien applied the term legendarium to the larger part of these writings.

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The Tolkien family originated in the East Prussian town of Kreuzburg near Konigsberg, which had been founded during medieval German eastward expansion, where his earliest-known paternal ancestor Michel Tolkien was born around 1620.

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Michel's son Christianus Tolkien was a wealthy miller in Kreuzburg.

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Tolkien mistakenly believed his surname derived from the German word, meaning "foolhardy", and jokingly inserted himself as a "cameo" into The Notion Club Papers under the literally translated name Rashbold.

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John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on 3 January 1892 in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State, to Arthur Reuel Tolkien, an English bank manager, and his wife Mabel, nee Suffield .

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Tolkien had one sibling, his younger brother, Hilary Arthur Reuel Tolkien, who was born on 17 February 1894.

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Tolkien's father died in South Africa of rheumatic fever before he could join them.

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Tolkien enjoyed exploring Sarehole Mill and Moseley Bog and the Clent, Lickey and Malvern Hills, which would later inspire scenes in his books, along with nearby towns and villages such as Bromsgrove, Alcester, and Alvechurch and places such as his aunt Jane's farm Bag End, the name of which he used in his fiction.

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Tolkien's taught him a great deal of botany and awakened in him the enjoyment of the look and feel of plants.

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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 very early.

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Tolkien could read by the age of four and could write fluently soon afterwards.

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Tolkien disliked Treasure Island and "The Pied Piper" and thought Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll was "amusing but disturbing".

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Tolkien liked stories about "Red Indians" and works of fantasy by George MacDonald.

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Mabel Tolkien was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1900 despite vehement protests by her Baptist family, which stopped all financial assistance to her.

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Tolkien's was then about 34 years of age, about as old as a person with diabetes mellitus type 1 could survive without treatment—insulin would not be discovered until 1921, two decades later.

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For Tolkien, the result of this meeting was a strong dedication to writing poetry.

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In 1911, Tolkien went on a summer holiday in Switzerland, a trip that he recollects vividly in a 1968 letter, noting that Bilbo's journey across the Misty Mountains is directly based on his adventures as their party of 12 hiked from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen and on to camp in the moraines beyond Murren.

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Fifty-seven years later, Tolkien remembered his regret at leaving the view of the eternal snows of Jungfrau and Silberhorn, "the Silvertine of my dreams".

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Tolkien initially read classics but changed his course in 1913 to English language and literature, graduating in 1915 with first-class honours.

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At the age of 16, Tolkien met Edith Mary Bratt, who was three years his senior, when he and his brother Hilary moved into the boarding house where she lived in Duchess Road, Edgbaston.

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Tolkien obeyed this prohibition to the letter, with one notable early exception, over which Father Morgan threatened to cut short his university career if he did not stop.

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Tolkien declared that he had never ceased to love her, and asked her to marry him.

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Tolkien's explained that, because of Tolkien's letter, everything had changed.

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On 8 January 1913, Tolkien travelled by train to Cheltenham and was met on the platform by Edith.

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Edith Bratt and Ronald Tolkien were formally engaged at Birmingham in January 1913, and married at St Mary Immaculate Catholic Church at Warwick, on 22 March 1916.

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Tolkien's relatives were shocked when he elected not to volunteer immediately for the British Army.

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Tolkien was commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers on 15 July 1915.

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Tolkien trained with the 13th Battalion on Cannock Chase, Rugeley Camp near to Rugeley, Staffordshire, for 11 months.

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On 2 June 1916, Tolkien received a telegram summoning him to Folkestone for posting to France.

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On 5 June 1916, Tolkien boarded a troop transport for an overnight voyage to Calais.

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Tolkien left Etaples on 27 June 1916 and joined his battalion at Rubempre, near Amiens.

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Tolkien found himself commanding enlisted men who were drawn mainly from the mining, milling, and weaving towns of Lancashire.

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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.

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Tolkien's battalion was almost completely wiped out following his return to England.

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Tolkien was grateful, writing that it had taught him "a deep sympathy and feeling for the Tommy; especially the plain soldier from the agricultural counties".

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

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Tolkien was promoted to the temporary rank of lieutenant on 6 January 1918.

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On 16 July 1919 Tolkien was taken off active service, at Fovant, on Salisbury Plain, with a temporary disability pension.

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On 3 November 1920, Tolkien was demobilized and left the army, retaining his rank of lieutenant.

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Tolkien published a philological essay in 1932 on the name "Nodens", following Sir Mortimer Wheeler's unearthing of a Roman Asclepeion at Lydney Park, Gloucestershire, in 1928.

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Ten years after finishing his translation, Tolkien gave a highly acclaimed lecture on the work, "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics", which had a lasting influence on Beowulf research.

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Lewis E Nicholson said that the article 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.

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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.

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Where Beowulf does deal with specific tribal struggles, as at Finnsburg, Tolkien argued firmly against reading in fantastic elements.

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In 1945, Tolkien moved to Merton College, Oxford, becoming the Merton Professor of English Language and Literature, in which post he remained until his retirement in 1959.

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Tolkien served as an external examiner for University College, Galway, for many years.

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In 1954 Tolkien received an honorary degree from the National University of Ireland .

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Tolkien completed The Lord of the Rings in 1948, close to a decade after the first sketches.

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Tolkien was very devoted to his children and sent them illustrated letters from Father Christmas when they were young.

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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, which was then a seaside resort patronized by the British upper middle class.

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Tolkien was initially assigned a larger portion to translate, but, due to other commitments, only managed to offer some criticisms of other contributors and a translation of the Book of Jonah.

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Tolkien was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1972 New Year Honours and received the insignia of the Order at Buckingham Palace on 28 March 1972.

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When Tolkien died 21 months later on 2 September 1973 from a bleeding ulcer and chest infection, at the age of 81, he was buried in the same grave, with "Beren" added to his name.

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Against this, scholars have noted that Tolkien was outraged in peacetime by Nazi racial theory, while during the Second World War he was equally disgusted by anti-German racial propaganda.

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In later years, a number of authors of biographies or literary analyses of Tolkien conclude that during his writing of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien gained increased interest in the value of wild and untamed nature, and in protecting what wild nature was left in the industrialized world.

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Tolkien was a gifted linguist, influenced by Germanic, Celtic, Finnish, and Greek language and mythology.

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Tolkien acknowledged, too, John Buchan and H Rider Haggard, authors of modern adventure stories that he enjoyed.

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Tolkien focuses on Andrew Lang's work as a folklorist and collector of fairy tales.

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Tolkien disagreed with Lang's broad inclusion, in his Fairy Book collections, of traveller's tales, beast fables, and other types of stories.

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Tolkien held a narrower perspective, viewing fairy stories as those that took place in Faerie, an enchanted realm, with or without fairies as characters.

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Tolkien viewed them as the natural development of the interaction of human imagination and human language.

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Tolkien wrote annual Christmas letters from Father Christmas for them, building up a series of short stories .

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Request for a sequel prompted Tolkien to begin what became his most famous work: the epic novel The Lord of the Rings .

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Tolkien strongly influenced the fantasy genre that grew up after the book's success.

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In 2002 Tolkien was voted the 92nd "greatest Briton" in a poll conducted by the BBC, and in 2004 he was voted 35th in the SABC3's Great South Africans, the only person to appear in both lists.

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Tolkien wrote a brief "Sketch of the Mythology", which included the tales of Beren and Luthien and of Turin; and that sketch eventually evolved into the Quenta Silmarillion, an epic history that Tolkien started three times but never published.

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Tolkien desperately hoped to publish it along with The Lord of the Rings, but publishers declined.

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From around 1936, Tolkien began to extend this framework to include the tale of The Fall of Numenor, which was inspired by the legend of Atlantis.

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Tolkien appointed his son Christopher to be his literary executor, and he organized some of this material into a single coherent volume, published as The Silmarillion in 1977.

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In 1980, Christopher Tolkien published a collection of more fragmentary material, under the title Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-earth.

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Tolkien commented in 1965, while editing The Hobbit for a third edition, that he would have preferred to rewrite the book completely because of the style of its prose.

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Tolkien specialized in English philology at university and in 1915 graduated with Old Norse as his special subject.

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Tolkien worked on the Oxford English Dictionary from 1918 and is credited with having worked on a number of words starting with the letter W, including walrus, over which he struggled mightily.

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Tolkien gave courses in Old English heroic verse, history of English, various Old English and Middle English texts, Old and Middle English philology, introductory Germanic philology, Gothic, Old Icelandic, and Medieval Welsh.

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When in 1925, aged thirty-three, Tolkien applied for the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professorship of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College, Oxford, he boasted that his students of Germanic philology in Leeds had even formed a "Viking Club".

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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, which had been little used since the mid-19th century and earlier.

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Tolkien learnt to paint and draw as a child, and continued to do so all his adult life.

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Tolkien produced pictures to accompany the stories told to his own children, including those later published in Mr Bliss and Roverandom, and sent them elaborately illustrated letters purporting to come from Father Christmas.

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Tolkien prepared maps and illustrations for The Lord of the Rings, but the first edition contained only the maps, his calligraphy for the inscription on the One Ring, and his ink drawing of the Doors of Durin.

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Tolkien's influence has extended to music, including the Danish group the Tolkien Ensemble's setting of all the poetry in The Lord of the Rings to their vocal music; and to a broad range of games set in Middle-earth.

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Tolkien's sent them to Tolkien, who was struck by the similarity they bore in style to his own drawings.

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Tolkien was not implacably opposed to the idea of a dramatic adaptation and sold the film, stage and merchandise rights of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1968.

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Since 2003, The Tolkien Society has organized Tolkien Reading Day, which takes place on 25 March in schools around the world.

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In 2012, Tolkien was among the British cultural icons selected by artist Sir Peter Blake to appear in a new version of his most famous artwork—the Beatles' Sgt.

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Several blue plaques in England commemorate places associated with Tolkien, including for his childhood, his workplaces, and places he visited.

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