Tolkien Biography

19  Download (0)

Full text


J. R. R.


A Short



John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on the 3rd of

January, 1892, in Bloemfontein in the Free State of South Africa. His father was Arthur Reuel

Tolkien (1857–1896), an English bank manager,

and his mother Mabel, née Suffield. The couple left England when Arthur was promoted to head the

Bloemfontein office of the British bank for which he worked. Tolkien had one sibling, his younger

brother, Hilary Arthur Reuel, who was born on the 17th of February, 1894.



Tolkien only had vague memories of South Africa, and some say one scary encounter with a large hairy

tarantula spider that bit him when he was a toddler influenced his later writing of The Hobbit. However,

Tolkien himself remembered only running in fear on a hot day, but the memory of the spider faded. He says that he actually put the spider in The Hobbit to scare his son,


"I put in the spiders largely because this was, you

remember, primarily written for my children (at least I had them in mind), and one of my sons [Michael] in



Not long after he had turned 4, on the 15th of

February, 1896, his father died. His mother and the two boys, returned to England near

Birmingham. They lived near the railroad tracks, and John Ronald (called Ronald by family) would watch the trains that journeyed to and from Wales with their strange names and grew very interested in languages. Sadly, in 1904, his mother Mabel



In 1911, while they were at King Edward's School, Birmingham, Tolkien and three friends, Rob Gilson, Geoffrey Smith and Christopher Wiseman, formed a semi-secret society which they called the "T.C.B.S.“ The initials stood for "Tea Club and Barrovian



It was in this year, that Ronald met Edith Bratt at one of the boarding houses, but as the relationship


Love and War

Tolkien did not go directly into

service at the start of the war, but continued his education and finally earned his first class degree from Oxford University in June of 1915. He was continuing his creative work on poetry and inventing languages at this time. However, he finally


Love and War

He and Edith married on March 22, 1916 before he departed. He was sent to active duty in the trenches, and ended up with “trench fever” or typhus from the unsanitary

conditions. He was sent back to

England in November and remained in the hospital for a month before he could finally return to stay with


Academic and Writing Career

Tolkien's first civilian job

after World War I was at

the Oxford English Dictionary

where he worked mainly on the history and etymology of words of Germanic origin

beginning with the letter W.

In 1920, he took up a post as Reader in English

Language at the University of Leeds, and became the youngest professor


Academic and Writing Career

At this time, he produced A Middle

English Vocabulary and a definitive edition

of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight with E. V. Gordon both becoming academic standard

works for several decades. He also translated Sir


Academic and Writing Career

In 1925, he returned to Oxford as Rawlinson and

Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon. His last child, a

daughter was born in 1929, at the time Tolkien had

formed a writing group called “The Inklings” at

Oxford. One member, C.S. Lewis (author of the

Chronicles of Narnia), became a close lifelong friend.



The Lord of the Rings brought Tolkien fame and fortune in his elderly years, but fans often caused problems. People would drive by and gawk at

their house. Sometimes fans would call his house at 3 in the morning wanting to know if Frodo

succeeded in his quest! In order to avoid these


The End of the Story…

After his retirement in 1959, Edith and Ronald

moved to Bournemouth on the coast to get away from fans. There they lived out their elderly years. On November 22, 1971 Edith died. Ronald returned to Oxford, to rooms provided by Merton College.


The End of the Story…

He and Edith are buried together in a single grave

in the Catholic section of Wolvercote Cemetery in the northern suburbs of Oxford. (The grave is well marked from the entrance, and many tourists visit the gravesite today.)

The legend on the headstone reads:

Edith Mary Tolkien, Lúthien, 1889-1971


Most Famous Works – Great


The Hobbit

The Lord of the






Related subjects :