J.R.R. Tolkien Biography / Autobiography / Memoir resources

Full Name: Mr. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
Date of Birth: January 3, 1892
Place of Birth: Bloemfontein, South Africa
Died: September 2, 1973
Place of Death: Bournemouth, England
Classification: Artists & Entertainers


Short Biography of J.R.R. Tolkien

Known as the author of the Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien never expected his tales of middle earth would be so popular. In fact, since their publication, his tales have enchanted, scared, and inspired the lives of millions of adults and children worldwide. His works, including The Hobbit, have been reprinted and translated as much as any other work in history.

Young J.R.R. was born in South Africa and resided permanently in England following the death of his father, who was a banker. Upon his move to England, he was able to play and explore the countryside of Moseley Bog and Malvern hills. These inspiring places appear later in his works of fiction as do the towns in which he grew up. Before the death of his mother, Tolkien learned a great deal of botany and Latin from her. He was fascinated with languages, especially classical ones that left behind great legends and stories of their time. Later as a professor, he would always argue in academic circles that the links between language and mythology was what helped a language and culture survive.

Tolkien attended the University of Oxford and graduated with a degree in English Literature. By this time, he had married Edith Bratt, his childhood sweetheart. Soon after, he entered the British Army during World War I, but was sent home after contracting trench fever. During this stint, he began working on his first title, The Book of Lost Tales. Tolkien then worked on the Oxford English Dictionary. During these years, he wrote The Hobbit and the first two drafts of The Lord of the Rings.

During his time as a professor, his fame and royalty checks grew. He continually kept in contact with one of his best friends C.S. Lewis about religion; Tolkien being a devout Roman Catholic and C.S. Lewis turning from atheist to Anglican. These talks and correspondences eventually led to the publication of Lewis’ works. But, especially after J.R.R. Tolkien’s retirement in 1959, his worldwide fame exploded. He and his wife had to remove themselves from the public’s eye to the southern coast of England.

Tolkien’s work was rooted in his favorite Germanic, Norse and Greek mythologies, and in the Bible. His beliefs in the Catholic faith also appear throughout his prose. Following his death in 1973, Tolkien’s son Christopher published some of his father’s work posthumously.

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