J.R.R. Tolkien: Meet the Genius Mind Behind The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Fame

When you hear J.R.R. Tolkien, the titles The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings will quickly come to mind, but there is more to this genius mind than this high fantasy works. He was a major scholar of the English language, and his degree of knowledge in Old and Middle English was exceptional.

He wrote many stories, including the ones about the hobbits, trolls, orcs, dwarves, elves, and men, set in the fictional world of Middle-earth. Although this made him questioned by the English Literature establishment, it couldn’t be denied that millions of readers around the world loved him for it.

The Child and Youth of Tolkien

Born John Ronal Reuel Tolkien, the great author was born on January 3, 1892 to a bank manager father, Arthur Reuel Tolkien, and Mabel Tolkien. He learned everything from his mom, but he loved the languages the most out of the many things she taught him as it proved to be an early investment in his future career.

He learned the rudiments of Latin at an early age, started reading at four years old, and writing soon afterward. He began reading numerous books as a child and fond of George MacDonald’s fantasy works, while Andrew Land’s Fairy Books resonated in his writings.

Tolkien brought his love for language until his youth and invented a dialect called Nevbosh and Naffarin and even alphabets.

He then went to King Edward’s, built a secret society, and graduated with a degree in English language and literature.

The War, Academic Career, and Writing

When Britain joined the First World War, Tolkien delayed his enlistment until he finished his studies. He fought in France, Somme, and when he became weak and emaciated, he spent the remainder of the war going in and out of hospitals and the garrisons.

After being deemed unfit to fight, he spent his recovery in Little Haywood, Staffordshire. Here, he started working on the book series The Book of Lost Tales, which was the mythology for England that he didn’t complete and abandon.

Tolkien then was taken off active service in 1919 and started a job at Oxford English Dictionary, working on the history and etymology of words of Germanic origin. He then became the youngest professor at the University of Leeds. He started his academic career and became an iconic writer that would give him a lot of credits.

In his time at Pembroke College, Tolkien started penning The Hobbit and the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings.

He also published the philological essay “The Name ‘Nodens'” in 1932 and translated Beowulf, which his son published 40 years after his demise and 90 years after its completion.

Literary Fame

Tolkien’s fame continuously increased during his retirement in 1959 until his passing in 1973. His fellow writer and good friend C.S. Lewis even nominated him for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

His books’ sales earned such a huge profit and home security that he regretted not retiring early to experience this success. Though he denounced the title of cult figure, he admitted the sweet smell of success tickled him.

His literary fame grew so big that he needed to take his phone number off from the public directory. He and his wife, Edith Tolkien, also had to move to Bournemouth to avoid the fans. As he became a best-selling author, Tolkien quickly entered the polite society, though he couldn’t deny that he missed his group of Oxford friends, aka The Inklings.

During his retirement, he had a lot of investment money to be able to do whatever he wanted, but he spent his time as a consultant and translator for The Jerusalem Bible, which was published in 1966, though he only translated the Book of Jonah due to prior commitments.

A Colorful Legacy

Tolkien wrote and published a number of articles, from scholarly essays to another Middle-earth tale to Middle English translation works and more.

The long-awaited Silmarillion was finally published in 1977, while Christopher Tolkien also made public a selection of his father’s incomplete writings, calling it Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth.

Like other famous authors, Tolkien’s works also received movie adaptations and credits that became commercially successful, not to mention award-winning.

Tolkien was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, received the symbol of the Order, and got the honorary Doctorate of Letters from Oxford University.