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.
- J R R 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.
September 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.