Early Life John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on 3January 1892 in Bloemfontein, SouthAfrica, to English parents. When he was three, his mother broughthim and his younger brother, Hilary, backto England. His father passed away shortly afterwardsin South Africa; the family stayed inEngland and by the summer of 1896, hismother found a home in the hamlet ofSarehole, just outside Birmingham. His family lived in refined poverty; theyeventually moved to Moseley, a suburb ofBirmingham just northwest of Sarehole. Tolkien was only 12 when his motherdied; he and his brother became wards ofa Catholic priest. Tolkien and his brother lived with auntsand in boarding homes afterward. The division between Tolkien’s happierdays in the rural landscape of Sareholeand his adolescent years in the industrialcentre of Birmingham would be stronglyfelt in his later writings.
Education In his youth, Tolkien attended KingEdward’s School in Birmingham in 1910and 1911, where he exceeded in classicaland modern languages. There are six known contributions Tolkienmade in King Edward’s School Chronicle. In 1911, he went to Exeter College, Oxford;there, he studied Classics, Old English,Germanic languages, Welsh, and Finnish. He showed an aptitude for philology andbegan to create languages of his own. Tolkien published his very first poem in1913, titled From the many-willowd marginof the immemorial Thames, in theStapeldon Magazine of Exeter College.
World War I By the time Tolkien completed hisdegree at Oxford in 1915, World War Ierupted across Europe. Tolkien enlisted in the military and wascommissioned in the LancashireFusiliers, but did not see active dutyfor months. During this period, he wrote the proemGoblin Feet, which was published inOxford Poetry 1915. When he learned he would be shippedout in March 1916, Tolkien marriedlongtime friend Edith Bratt, the girl hewrote the poem for. He was sent to serve on the WesternFront and fought in Somme offensive;nearly all of his closest friends losttheir lives. Following four months in and out of thetrenches, he became sick with typhus-like infection and was sent back toEngland; he served for the remainderof the war here.
Academic Career Tolkien’s first job was a lexicographer on NewEnglish Dictionary; he helped to draft Oxford EnglishDictionary. Tolkien wrote A Middle English Vocabulary, whichwas not published until 1922, but after it waspublished, some copies were accounted with firstimpressions of Kenneth Sisam’s book FourteenthCentury Verse and Prose, which was published theyear before. In this time, Tolkien started on serious work oncreating languages that he pictured was spoken byelves; these languages were based largely onFinnish and Welsh. He also began his Lost Tales series, a mythic historyof men, elves, and other creatures he made to givecontext for his “Elvish” languages. He made the first public presentation of Lost Talesseries when he read The Fall of Gondolin to anentertained audience at Exeter College Essay Club. Later, Tolkien became a professor in EnglishLanguage at University of Leeds, where got togetherwith E. V. Gordon on famous edition of Sir Gawainand the Green Knight. Tolkien stayed at Leeds until 1925, when he took aposition as an Anglo-Saxon teacher at OxfordUniversity; here, he found time to make a number ofcontributions on different magazines and books likeGryphon Magazine, Microsm, TLS, and LeedsUniversity Verse.
Tolkien at Oxford Tolkien spent the remainder of his career atOxford; he retired in 1959. Though he made little by today’s “publish orperish” standards, Tolkien’s scholarlywritings were of the highest degree; amonghis most influential works is his lecture“Beowulf, the Monsters and the Critics”. At Oxford, he became one of the foundingmembers of an informal group of like-mindedOxford peers “The Inklings” who got togetherfor conservation, drinks, and readings fromtheir works-in-progress; another importantmember was C.S. Lewis, who befriendedTolkien, becoming one of his closest peers. Tolkien, a deeply religious Catholic, andLewis, an agnostic, often debated religionand mythology’s rule. In contrast to Lewis, who rejected myths andfairly tales, Tolkien firmly believed they haveboth moral and spiritual value. As said by Tolkien, “The imagined beingshave their inside on the outside; they arevisible souls. And Man as a whole, Manpitted against the Universe, have we seenhim at all till we see that he is like a hero in afairly tale?”.
“In a hole in the ground . . .” It was also during the years spentat Oxford that Tolkien scribbled anunexplainable note in a student’sexam book: “In a hole in theground, there lived a Hobbit. “ Curious as to what a “Hobbit” wasand why it should make its livingin a hole, Tolkien started to makea story involving who inhabited aworld known as Middle-earth. This became a story he sharedwith his children; in 1936, aversion of the story was broughtto the attention of the publishingfirm of George Allen and Unwin(now part of Harper/Collins), whopublished it as The Hobbit, orThere and Back Again, in 1937,becoming an immediate andenduring classic.
The Lord of the Rings Publisher Stanley Unwin was surprised by thesuccess of The Hobbit and asked for a sequel,which led into a multivolume epic. Whereas The Hobbit made a hint at the history ofMiddle-earth that Tolkien made in his Lost Talesseries (which by now he was naming TheSilmarillion), the sequel was based largely on it. Tolkien was so focused on getting every detailright that it took him over a decade to finish his12-book series The Lord of the Rings, oftenleaving off writing the story for months at a time tosolve a linguistic problem or historicalinconsistency. In 1954-1955, The Lord of the Rings appeared inthree different parts: The Fellowship of the Ring,The Two Towers, and The Return of the King. Whereas the book was happily received by thereading public, critical reviews were anything butneutral; some critics, like Philip Toynbee,expressed strong disapproval of its fantasysetting, archaic language, and utter earnestness. Others, most notably W.H. Auden and C.S. Lewis,highly praised it for its straightforward narrative,imagination, and Tolkien’s palpable love oflanguage.
The Lord of the Rings – cont. Until it finally appeared in paperback, The Lord of the Rings did not reachthe climax of its popularity; Tolkien did not like paperbacks and did notauthorize a paperback edition. However, in 1965, Ace Books made full use of a legal loophole, publishingan unauthorized paperback version of The Lord of the Rings. Within months, Ballantine published an official version of the book (with asomewhat angry note about respecting an author’s wishes). The smaller cost of paperbacks and the publicity generated by the copyrightdispute increased sales of the book significantly, particularly in the UnitedStates where it was fastly embraced by the counterculture of the 60s. Almost 60 years after its publication, Tolkien’s epic tale has sold over 100million copies and translated in over 25 languages.
Tolkien’s legacy The Lord of the Rings is a singular, contradictory writing. Written in a nearly old-fashioned form with unusual words and uncertainhistorical details and lacking the modern importance on the “inner life”, it isdisconcerted and anti-modern. But at the same time, its gloomy environmentalism and fully seen alternativeworld are fairly modern; it has often been read, together as other things, asa parable of World War II and the Cold War, although Tolkien himselfdenied such an interpretation and maintained it was simply a story to beinterpreted on its own terms. However, its enduring interest lies not in its literary strangeness orstraightforward action, rather in its beautifully seen world and the themes ofloss, self-sacrifice, and friendship. In its wake, the work of Tolkien not only left a host of sword-and-sorceryfollowers and devoted fans, but a living legacy in the hundreds of non-existing worlds that have since come alive in books and films.
Middle-earth after Tolkien J.R.R. Tolkien died on 2September 1973; he was 81. Tolkien’s death did not endMiddle-earth for readers. After he died, his sonChristopher worked hard tofinish his father’s work. Christopher edited TheSimarillion, seeing it publishedin 1977. In 1980, he started to publishthe remainder of his father’sunfinished writings, whichresulted in the 12-volumeHistory of Middle-earth series.
Quotes “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 bythe frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, a light from theshadows shall spring; renewed shall be blade that was broken, thecrownless shall be king.” “There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something. Youcertainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quitethe something you were after.” “It is the job that is never started that takes longest to finish.” “I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for itsswiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which theydefend.” “The wise speak only of what they know.”