J. R. R. Tolkien (1892 - 1973)

by cmoneyspinner

A brief bio-snapshot of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. (1892 - 1973), the architect of Middle Earth, and gift ideas for the Tolkien enthusiast, like Hobbit Scrabble.

Lauded by many as a literary hero, Tolkien was a very private man and research to publish his biography was not made easy. Tolkien's youngest son, Christopher, chose not to cooperate with independent biographers; so let's just say additions to the authorized biography can be viewed as "complementary".

This article weaves together fascinating, funny and ordinary facts to create a biographical sketch of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, the famous British author of the Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

Tolkien: A Biographical Sketch

Sketch Created From a Few Fascinating, Funny and Ordinary Facts About This Reclusive Writer / Scholar / MythMaker

Humphrey Carpenter, was permitted to published the "official" biography. Carpenter was given access to the author's private papers and letters, as well as being given freedom to gather information from his friends and associates.

However, other biographers, e.g. Daniel Grotta, apologize in advance if readers feel their presentation of the life of this great writer falls short. Having not had the same advantages as Carpenter, their work is the result of snippets, tidbits, details and anything else they could dig up via research and amateur detective work.

  • JRR Tolkien was born in South Africa; January 3, 1892. He was kidnapped by one of the natives; though not for ransom - but rather for bragging rights. (Grotta's biography supplies additional details.)
  • His health was very fragile and so at the age of 3, his mother took him to England, hoping his health would improve. His health did improve but they never returned to Africa because his father died.
  • Both of his parents died when he was young. His father (Arthur) passed away in 1896; and his mother (Mabel) in 1904. He was raised by a Catholic priest.
  • Tolkien was commissioned a Lieutenant in July 1915; served during the First World War, and was released from active duty in October 1918. Later, he indicated that the young soldiers who fought under him in his platoon served as models for his brave hobbits.
  • Reuel is an ancient Hebrew name which translates "God is his friend"; and the Tolkien family had a tradition of including it as each child's middle name.
  • Tolkien married Edith Mary Bratt in 1916; their firstborn son was named John Francis Reuel Tolkien (November 16, 1917 - January 22, 2003). The first born was given the name Francis to honor the priest who took care of him after his mother passed away. The other children born from their union:
- Michael Hilary Reuel "Mick" Tolkien (October 22, 1920 - February 27, 1984);
- Christopher Reuel Tolkien (born November 21, 1924); and
- Priscilla Anne Reuel Tolkien (June 18, 1929).
  • Professor Tolkien was a highly respected academic. His first job after WWI was contributing to the Oxford English Dictionary. (Must have looked quite impressive on his resume). :)
  • Tolkien's mother instilled in him a love for classic mythology, and consequently, he "borrowed" many ideas and incorporated them into his modern mythtological adventures. He never claimed that his names and plots were entirely original.
  • The unexpected fame, fortune and success of the LOTR books brought with it an unwanted invasion of privacy. Tolkien retreated from public view. From 1965 forward, to preserve his private life, he hired Joy Hill as his personal assistant. She was his primary contact for communicating and handling inquires from the public.
  • On an official questionnaire used for army records, in response to the question, what was his father's profession, Mick Tolkien filled in the blank with the word: WIZARD.
  • Tolkien received Christmas cards from a girl who was at one time in a mental institution because he helped with her recovery.
  • Beren and Luthien, lovers from The Silmarillion were the Middle Earth names for Tolkien and his wife. Edith Mary Tolkien died November 1971, at the age of 82. They had been married 55 years.

The PreciousSeptember 3, 1973 OBITUARY published by THE NEW YORK TIMES:  J. R. R. Tolkien Dead at 81; Wrote 'The Lord of the Rings'


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 Image:  Lord of the Rings Gollum Collectors Edition Statue (1978)


Science Fiction and Fantasy Authors Who Served in the Military, and How it Changed Their Work - Tolkien is on this list with many others.

10 Facts Only 'Lord Of The Rings' Super Fans Know | HuffingtonPost.com

Gifts for the Tolkien Enthusiast

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Suggested Biographies

J.R.R. Tolkien: Architect of Middle E...
Running Press
$14.95  $4.45
J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography
Houghton Mifflin Company
$15.95  $8.53
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Mariner Books
$16.95  $7.69
The Fall of Arthur
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
$25.00  $11.49

J.R.R. Tolkien: An Audio Portrait - Radio and TV archive material from the '60s and '70s compiled.

J.R.R. Tolkien: An Audio Portrait

The Lord of the Rings: The Hobbit An Unexpected Journey Collector's Scrabble (1978)
Scrabble: the Hobbit
Only $29.99

ARTISTS I Fancy: Michelle Wibowo

Incredible sugar art figurine sculpture of "Gollum"
Two Gold Awards at ICHF Cake International
Two Gold Awards at ICHF Cake International
Updated: 07/29/2016, cmoneyspinner
Thank you! Would you like to post a comment now?


cmoneyspinner on 08/21/2014

@frankbeswick - Tolkien wasn't the only one "annoyed" (repulsed) by Hitler's sillyness. The Thule Society? Sounds like a great topic for a Wizzley page.

frankbeswick on 08/21/2014

One overlooked fact out hobbits are that they are anti-Thule. The Thule society, an occult group committed to German racial supremacy, backed Hitler, as they were using him as a tool of their supremacy. Their ideal physical specimen was tall, fair, had lank flaxen hair, was short of body hair and had some distinct feet characteristics [I am none too clear about the precise measurements and criteria.] They were convinced that true Aryans had to pass a foot measurement test. Tolkien's hobbits are short, brown, have brown curly hair and very hairy feet. The hairy feet are his subtle mockery of Thule. [There are differences in human feet, but they are subtle and insignificant, except when I try to make shoes made in continental Europe fit me properly!]

Tolkien, an expert on mythology, was deeply annoyed at Hitler's perversion of Nordic myths, even before the war began.

cmoneyspinner on 08/21/2014

@SeanMac - Super?? Oh thank you so much!! I very much enjoyed preparing this article for publication. Appreciate the compliment.

SeanMac on 08/21/2014

Super article. How they can compare GRR Martin to Tolkien I'll never know. The great JRR wins for me every time!

cmoneyspinner on 12/26/2013

Indeed. Time is precious. Thanks for stopping by @EmmaSRose.

Guest on 12/26/2013

cmoneyspinner, The intricacy of the universes created by J.R.R. Tolkien never ceases to amaze me. It seems to me that he lived up to the wise words uttered by Gandalf that life is about deciding what to do with the time that is given to us.

cmoneyspinner on 12/06/2013

@DerdriuMarriner - I love "The Precious". Thanks for your comments.

DerdriuMarriner on 12/06/2013

cmoneyspinner, Those "Hobbitses" are quite endearing and brave. J.R.R. Tolkien created an extensive universe and peopled it with memorable characters = quite an accomplishment.
I love the tidbit about Mick listing his father's profession as WIZARD on an official Army record!

cmoneyspinner on 10/10/2013

@Tolovaj - I find it interesting that he was such a private man. Dealing with fame and the public adoration must have been very difficult, even though I'm sure he appreciated it.

Tolovaj on 10/10/2013

Tolkien will stay forever in world literature for creation of Lord of the Rings but if I remember correctly this project started as a sort of experiment - how long can be a story to keep the suspense from the beginning to the end. After a while Tolkien (who wrote very interesting essay on my favorite subject - on fairy tales) admitted it could be much much longer than he expected.

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