"Fantasy remains a human right" - J.R.R  Tolkien

Happy Birthday, J.R.R. Tolkien!

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John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was an English author, poet, university professor, and philologist. Tolkien's father died when he was three, and his mother raised her two sons Hilary and Ronald, as he was called, by herself. As a child, Tolkien often visited his aunt Jane's farm, called Bag End, a name he later adopted for his novels. Tolkien's mother Mabel was quite academic, and taught her sons a great deal of botany, as well as Latin. Tolkien's most famous works, of course, are The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Similarion. Tolkien referred to his collected works as his legendarium.

Below, some interesting facts about the fantasy author:

Tolkien's literary works were so intricately–woven and complex that they included invented languages, which the author himself thought up and fastidiously maintained with several ledgers, notebooks, and references. His novels also involved connected tales, poems, fictional histories, and essays about Middle Earth.

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tolkien-edithTolkien met his future wife, Edith Mary Bratt, when he was 16. She was a Protestant and Tolkien a Catholic, and their relationship was strongly discouraged by Tolkien's guardian, Father Francis Morgan.

The young Tolkien obeyed until the night of his 21st birthday, whereupon he wrote Edith a letter and asked her to marry him. Edith agreed, and later converted to Catholicism at his request. They remained married until her death in 1971.EdithTolkien

After Edith's death, Tolkien remembered her thusly: "I never called Edith Luthien – but she was the source of the story that in time became the chief part of The Silmarillion...In those days her hair was raven, her skin clear, her eyes brighter than you have seen them, and she could sing – and dance."

 

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While completing his fellowship at Pembroke College, Oxford, Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, along with the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings.

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Before World War II, Tolkien trained as a codebreaker and studied cryptography at the Government Code and Cypher school, but was later told that his services would not be needed.

His lecture, "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" is among the most influential texts in Beowulf research. His lecture established the importance of the poetic nature of the work as opposed to its linguistic elements, and noted that Beowulf addressed human destiny, as opposed to childish battles with monsters, as previously imagined.

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W.H. Auden, at one point a student of Tolkien's, wrote to his former professor,"I don't think that I have ever told you what an unforgettable experience it was for me as an undergraduate, hearing you recite Beowulf. The voice was the voice of Gandalf."

C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, was Tolkien's closest friend and constant supporter of his literary endeavors. They met while both men were members of the teaching faculty at Oxford, and Tolkien was instrumental in converting his friend from atheism to Christianity.

 

Tolkien had originally intended The Lord of the Rings to be a work of children's literature, similar to The Hobbit, but the tone of the volumes quickly grew dark and serious.

The Tolkiens had four children: John, Michael, Christopher, and Priscilla. He was extremely devoted to his children and sent them elaborate, illustrated letters from Father Christmas when they were young.

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His youngest son Christopher Tolkien, drew the original maps for The Lord of the Rings.

Edith's gravestone includes the name "Luthien," and Tolkien's gravestone is engraved with the name "Beren." In his legendarium, Luthien is is beautiful immortal elf who falls in love with the mortal warrior Beren. When Beren is killed in battle, Luthien persuades the angelic order to bring him back to life.

 

 

 

 

Quotes:

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens. 

Fair speech may hide a foul heart.

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost.

His house was perfect, whether you liked food, or sleep, or work, or story-telling, or singing, or just sitting and thinking, best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.

A real taste for fairy-stories was wakened by philology on the threshold of manhood, and quickened to full life by war.

I believe that legends and myths are largely made of 'truth.'

 

Check out Art of the Hobbit: Never-Before-Seen Drawings by J.R.R. Tolkien

Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Friday, 03 January 2014
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