J.R.R. Tolkien Biography


Type: Author, Academic, Philologist, Poet

Born: 3 January 1892, Bloemfontein, Orange Free Stat

Died: 2 September 1973 (aged 81), Bournemouth, D

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973) was a major scholar of the English language, specialising in Old and Middle English. Twice Professor of Anglo-Saxon (Old English) at the University of Oxford, he also wrote a number of stories, including most famously "The Hobbit" (1937) and "The Lord of the Rings" (1954-1955), which are set in a pre-historic era in an invented version of our world which he called by the Middle English name of Middle-earth. This was peopled by Men (and women), Elves, Dwarves, Trolls, Orcs (or Goblins) and of course Hobbits. He has regularly been condemned by the Eng. Lit. establishment, with honourable exceptions, but loved by literally millions of readers worldwide.

In the 1960s he was taken up by many members of the nascent “counter-culture” largely because of his concern with environmental issues. In 1997 he came top of three British polls, organised respectively by Channel 4 / Waterstone’s, the Folio Society, and SFX, the UK’s leading science fiction media magazine, amongst discerning readers asked to vote for the greatest book of the 20th century.

"The Hobbit" and the "Lord of the Rings" series are grouped among the most popular books in the world, having sold tens of millions of copies. "The Rings trilogy" was also adapted by director Peter Jackson into a highly popular, award-winning trio of films starring Ian McKellen, Elijah Wood, Cate Blanchett and Viggo Mortensen, among others. Jackson is also at the helm of a three-part "Hobbit movie" adaptation starring Martin Freeman, with the first installment being released at the end of 2012.

Tolkien's son Christopher has edited several works that weren't completed at the time of his father's death, including "The Silmarillion" and "The Children of Húrin", which were published posthumously. "The Art of the Hobbit" was published in 2012, celebrating the novel's 75th anniversary by presenting Tolkien's original illustrations.

Selected works:


  • 1937 The Hobbit or There and Back Again,
  • 1945 Leaf by Niggle (short story)
  • 1945 The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun, published in Welsh Review
  • 1949 Farmer Giles of Ham (mediaeval fable)
  • 1953 The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son (a play written in alliterative verse)
  • The Lord of the Rings:
  • 1954 The Fellowship of the Ring: being the first volume of The Lord of the Rings
  • 1954 The Two Towers: being the second volume of The Lord of the Rings
  • 1955 The Return of the King: being the third volume of The Lord of the Rings
  • 1962 The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book
  • 1964 Tree and Leaf (On Fairy-Stories and Leaf by Niggle in book form)
  • 1966 The Tolkien Reader (The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son, On Fairy-Stories, Leaf by Niggle, Farmer Giles of Ham, and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil)
  • 1967 The Road Goes Ever On, with Donald Swann
  • 1967 Smith of Wootton Major (short story)

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