John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3rd, 1892 and died on September 2nd, 1973, exactly 28 years before the premiere of The Fellowship of The Ring – the first film of The Lord of the Rings Series. And yet, J. R. R. Tolkien will forever be remembered as the English writer who created the world of The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings.
His writing is defined by Tolkien’s infatuation with the minute detail, which he describes patiently and with great precision. He must have inherited his zeal to create credible and plausible characters in the fantasy genre from his father, who was a bank manager, and for whom punctuality and hard work was everything. The personality of J. R. R. Tolkien is so complex and, at the same time, charming that we found it an arduous task to select a few of his life’s most important milestones!
J. R. R. Tolkien Facts
1. As a teenager, Tolkien took up inventing languages as his hobby
From a very early age, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was fond of learning languages. While he was in middle school, Tolkien, his cousin Mary and some friends of his invented a language of their own called Nevbosh. Later, he came up with another fictional language called Naffarin.
2. The extraordinary romance of J. R. R. Tolkien and Edith Mary Bratt
When he was only sixteen, Tolkien met Edith Mary Bratt, who was nineteen at the time. By that time, they both had lost their parents and quickly fell in love with each other seeking the affection and attention they had never had, an interesting fact about Tolkien. That was back in 1909.
Unfortunately, Tolkien’s guardian, a rigid and rigorous man by the name of Father Morgan, thought that his surrogate son was too young to enter in a serious relationship with a woman and forbid him from communicating with Edith in any way until he turned twenty-one. Tolkien observed the ban strictly and only wrote a letter to Edith on the evening of his 21st birthday. Remarkably, their love rose like a Phoenix from the ashes and they tied the knot several years later.
3. Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf was published four decades after his death
Following his demobilization from the British Army, J. R. R. Tolkien took to academic work. At some time in 1920, he started translating the epic saga Beowulf from Old English to Modern English. The translation was ready by 1926, but an interesting fact about Tolkien is that he was reluctant to publish it, Eventually, Tolkien’s son, Christopher, made some final edits to his father’s work and published it in 2014.
4. Tolkien Was Skeptical about LOTR’s commercial success
In his lifetime, J. R. R. Tolkien always prioritized his scholarly work to his writing endeavors. Thus, when he was not busy lecturing students or giving presentations on important issues, he amused himself pouring scathing criticism on some inapt adaptations of The Lord of The Rings (LOTR) that fell below his elevated standards.
5. J. R. R. Tolkien had a weird sense of humor
The sense of humor that J. R. R. Tolkien demonstrated among his circle of friends and acquaintances was weird, to put it mildly. Not long ago, one of his friends shared a recollection of how Tolkien used to go to after-work parties wearing a polar bear costume.
On another occasion, he scared one of his neighbors running after him dressed as an Anglo-Saxon warrior and wielding a wooden halberd. The local butcher nearly died of shock once, when Tolkien tried to pay for some beef shanks he’d just purchased with his false teeth!
6. Tolkien was a homeschooler
Until his early teens, J. R. R. Tolkien had been homeschooled by his mother Mabel Tolkien along with his younger brother, Hilary. Ronald was the more hard-working student of the two and showed a natural talent for arts and languages. Maybe Mabel Tolkien simply did not have the financial means to send her two boys to a grammar school following the death of her husband Arthur in 1896.
7. J. R. R. Tolkien was fascinated by the beauty of the Swiss Alps
In 1911, Tolkien spent a summer in Switzerland and fell in love with the raw beauty of the Alps. Later, he recreated some of those natural landscapes in The Hobbit, in the part where Bilbo is struggling to cross the Misty Mountains, an interesting Tolkien fact. While in Switzerland, Tolkien and his friends used to take long hiking trips along steep glaciers and through dangerously narrow passes.
8. Tolkien wrote The Hobbit to entertain his own children
J. R. R. Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit went out of print in 1937 and became an instant success. The book touched the hearts of children and adults alike and they started bombarding the author with letters of admiration requesting a sequel. Their reaction caught him completely by surprise, as he had written the novel in his free time, with the sole purpose to entertain his own children.
9. LOTR took Tolkien ten years to complete
Literary critics and connoisseurs of J. R. R. Tolkien’s work are unanimous that The Lord of The Rings took him ten years to write. An interesting fact about Tolkien is that it is still unclear when exactly he commenced what was to become the novel of his life. It is known for a fact that LOTR went out of print between 1954 and 1955 as a trilogy. Tolkien himself had planned it as a monolithic work. In addition, he wanted The Lord of The Rings to be printed in red ink, but the undertaking proved to be too costly and was eventually dropped.
Today, Priscilla Tolkien is J. R. R. Tolkien’s only living child. At the age of 91, she still serves as an Honorary Vice-President of The Tolkien Society, an educational charity headquartered in England. The organization has more than 1,500 members from all over the world and its mission is to keep J. R. R. Tolkien’s work alive forever.
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