The Life and Works of J.R.R Tolkien
Did you know that J.R.R. Tolkien did not consider The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit some of his great works, that they were just fun stories to him? He was arguably the first fantasy writer to write stories as we see today. J.R.R Tolkien was one of the few authors who have transformed the world by influencing fantasy writers, connecting his books to the real world, and giving hope to people in times of war.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born January 3, 1892 to Mabel and Arthur Tolkien in Bloemfontein, South Africa. The name Tolkien is believed to be of German origin, and it meant foolishly brave, or stupidly clever. When he was 4 years old, his father died from rheumatic fever, and he went to live with his mother in Birmingham, England, with his younger brother Hilary. Not too long after, in 1904, his mother was diagnosed with diabetes and died in November of that year. The boys were sent to boarding schools, and Father Morgen, a Catholic priest, assumed guardianship over them.
When John Ronald was 16, he fell in love with another orphan, Edith Bratt, but Father Morgen did not approve, so was not allowed to propose until he was 21. In the meantime, he attended King Edward’s School in Birmingham and Exeter College, Oxford, from 1915 to 1919. During his stay in college he married Edith Bratt on March 22, 1916.
When he was 28 he took a break from teaching and fought in the Battle of the Somme, the 5th biggest and bloodiest battle in human history, and other conflicts during World War II. Over 3 million people fought in the Battle of the Somme, and more than 1 million were wounded or killed.
After the war he went back to teaching, and spent most of the rest of his adult life he spent teaching the English language and literature, at the Universities of Leeds, specializing in Old and Middle English. To amuse himself, he wrote dark and sorrowful books, which eventually became the Silmarillion. The Hobbit was supposed to be an entertaining book for his children, and when he published it, the publisher asked for a sequel.
It is only a very skilled writer that can connect their books to real life. The Hobbit became popular around the world, and was translated into more than 50 different languages. The Hobbit sold more than 100 million copies worldwide, and is the 6th best selling book in human history. The Lord of the Rings is in 3rd place.
He had written The Hobbit as a fun children’s story about a small adventurer who goes and steals gold from a dragon, encountering many dangers along the way. It was meant to make his children laugh and cheer them up. It was first published during the middle of World War II. It had a big significance to families who had loved ones going off to war. It gave them hope that all would be well and that their loved ones would come back safe and sound.
The Hobbit inspired the fighters. They saw how the characters had overcome challenging obstacles, and it heartened them to see how Bilbo and the dwarves fought the dragon and bested it. The reason that they were able to connect so well with the book was because the fighters were facing hardship just like the characters, and they took the hope that the characters had and transferred it to real life.
The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings not only inspired the fighters, but also readers everywhere. These books are obviously fantasy, but that does not take away from their impact. The characters in the books connect to the real world in so many ways. They have to persevere and fight through challenges, and they succeed in many of these challenges. But more important is that the characters change throughout the storyline in a way that other books did not do. The characters learned lessons, and as you keep reading, the characters learn more about the history of Middle Earth.
This concept captivated the readers, because it had never been used. Some of these readers went on to create music, games, and other books based off of these stories. The Lord of the Rings was a stepping stone for games like Dungeons and Dragons, which incorporated many of the fantastic races that appeared in Middle Earth. The first musician to bring the songs in the books to life was Donald Swann, who took six poems from the books and made them into music, with J.R.R Tolkien's permission and approval. The reason why there are so many different versions of the Misty Mountains song is because people were inspired to write it.
One example of a book that was inspired by The Lord of the Rings is The Sword of Shannara series, published in 1977 by Terry Brooks. It follows much the same storyline as The Lord of the Rings (published in 1954), and has received some criticism because of this. This is one example of a book that has been written based off of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings.
J.R.R Tolkien’s books were some of the most influential stories ever written for fantasy writers all over the world. The characters in the books instead of remaining the same, grew and changed over time, and their world did also. He gave a history to The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit with past battles or hard winters or a particularly good year for brewing. This history made the story that was happening seem so much more real.
The world in The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings is a fully fabricated world, with its own languages. There were multiple languages that he invented for these books, as well as others that he invented for fun. This engages the reader, and gives them an opportunity able to find connections between themselves and the book more easily. Tolkien didn’t populate his books with whimsical and outlandish adventures like many other fantasy writers at the time, he gave the characters a real purpose and goal.
Before The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings, stories like Alice in Wonderland where coming to life. Now writers from all over the world take into account everything that made J.R.R Tolkien's stories special, whether it be the language, history, or character plots, and incorporate it into their own writing.
J.R.R Tolkien was a pioneer of the fantasy world, and he inspired people all around the world to keep going and reach for their dreams. J.R.R Tolkien is a role model change maker because he shaped the books we read today. Without his influence, our books would be dull as a Proudfoot’s life.
LINKS & SOURCES
David Doughan. “J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biographical Sketch.” The Tolkien Society. 5 March 2018. <https://www.tolkiensociety.org/author/biography/>.
“J.R.R. Tolkien Biography.” Biography. November 14, 2017. 5 March 2018. <https://www.biography.com/people/jrr-tolkien-9508428>
“J.R.R. Tolkien.” Encyclopedia Britannica. Mar 23, 1999. Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 5 March 2018. <https://www.britannica.com/biography/J-R-R-Tolkien>
Editors, TheFamousPeople.com. “J. R. R. Tolkien Biography.” July 24, 2017. The Famous People. 5 March 2018. <https://www.thefamouspeople.com/profiles/john-ronald-reuel-tolkien-1698.php>