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J.R.R. Tolkien: The Father of High Fantasy

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Last Sunday (January 3), one of the most renowned authors of his generation was born. He showed us the diverse race of Men, Elves, Dwarves, Trolls, Orcs, the Hobbits, and a unique language from his novels, to the big screen and even in video games. As we celebrate his 129th Birthday, we'll take a look at his career of being one of the most influential writers up to this day.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in 1892, in Bloemfontein, Orange Free State (now South Africa) to Arthur Reuel Tolkien and Mabel Tolkien. At the age of 3, he lost his Father due to rheumatic fever and Mabel took him to live with her parents in Kings Heath, Birmingham. At the age of 4, he can read, write fluently, and is allowed by his mother to read many books. From Treasure Island, The Pied Piper, and Alice's Adventures in Wonderland which he disliked. However, he liked the stories of native americans and the works of George MacDonald. In 1904, his mother died of acute diabetes. Before she died, Mabel assigned her close friend to keep an eye on her children, Father Francis Xavier Morgan of the Birmingham Oratory, and raise them as good Catholics. He attended King Edward's School at Edgbaston, Birmingham, and St. Philip's School, went on to win a scholarship, and became a cadet of the Officer's Training Corps. He participated to line the route for the 1910 coronation parade of King George V and as a royal guard posted outside of Buckingham Palace.

At 16, he met Edith Mary Bratt, when his brother Hilary moved to a boarding house near Duchess Road, Edgbaston. Father Morgan prohibits him from meeting her, talking to her, and exchanging letters to Edith until 21. The moment Ronald reached 21, he wrote to Edith saying he wants to marry her. She replied that Edith accepted the proposal of George Field. And that changed when Ronald ride a train to Cheltenham on January 8, 1913, which he unexpectedly met Edith on the platform. After walking along the countryside, they found a place to talk and rest, Edith accepted Ronald's proposal, then she wrote to George, returned her engagement ring and George's family felt insulted and angry. Ronald & Edith now engaged, she converted her religious views to Catholicism and exchanged vows on March 22, 1916.

J.R.R. Tolkien in 1916

Ronald was a veteran of both World Wars. He didn't volunteer immediately, instead, he entered a program which he needs to complete his degree in his college days. June 15, 1915, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers and trained with the 13th Battalion on Cannock Chase, Rugeley Camp, Staffordshire for 11 months. On June 5, 1916, Ronald was deployed with the British Expeditionary Forces depot at Etaples in Northern France. He was assigned as a signals officer for the 11th Battalion. June 27, 1916, he left Etaples and joined his original battalion at Rubempre. In early July 1916, Ronald arrived at Somme, participated in the assaults of the Schwaben Redoubt and the Leipzig salient. Edith was so stressed out and feared whoever knocks on her door would carry news of her husband's death. She tracked Ronald's movements on a map of the Western Front. October 27, 1916, they attacked Regina Trench, and Ronald had a trench fever. Most of his friends in school died in the war. Ronald recovers in Little Haywood, Staffordshire and he began to work on The Book of Lost Tales, which consists of fictional myths and legends of middle-earth. On July 16, 1919, Ronald was officially demobilized with a temporary disability pension.

After the war, he retained his rank of Lieutenant and worked for the Oxford English Dictionary, then he became a reader at the University of Leeds, eventually a professor. He was a tutor for undergraduates, and during his time at Pembroke College, he wrote The Hobbit which introduces us to the story of Bilbo Baggins and his adventures. And the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings, which tells 9 companions formed by the Council of Elrond to destroy the one ring, with the fellowship separated, Saruman declares war against all races of Middle-Earth to invade Helm's Deep.

Ronald returned to active duty in World War II of 1939 as a codebreaker and took an instructional course at the Government Code and Cypher School in London. In 1945, he moved to Merton College, Oxford, and became a Professor of English Language and Literature. He completed The Lord of the Rings in 1948, received an honorary degree from the National University of Ireland in 1954, then retired in 1959. During his retirement, Ronald received public attention and literary fame. His friend, C.S. Lewis (author of The Chronicles of Narnia) nominated Ronald for the Nobel Prize in Literature. On November 29, 1971, Edith died at 82. Ronald went back to Merton College and gave him convenient rooms near High Street. He missed Edith but enjoyed being back in the city. A year later, he was made Commander of the Order of the British Empire for his contributions to art and made him an honorary Doctorate of Letters. On September 2, 1973, J.R.R. Tolkien died due to a bleeding ulcer and chest infection. He was buried in the same grave as Edith. From their tombstones aside from their real names, 2 names were engraved. Lúthien & Beren, both characters are created by Ronald in Middle-Earth.

Tomb of Edith Mary Tolkien & J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien's legacy lives on, as film adaptations were made in 1977's The Hobbit, an animated musical television film, and 1978's The Lord of the Rings, but it only covered the first half of the story. From 2001 to 2003, it became a trilogy film directed by Peter Jackson and filmed in New Zealand.

From 2012 to 2014, Jackson took the helm again as the director for The Hobbit trilogy. Both film trilogies were successful and winning numerous awards.

3 years ago, a television series will be streamed under Amazon which will show new stories before The Fellowship of the Ring. Possibly, these are the unexplored stories around Middle-Earth.

A toast to the Professor!

Sources:

Lead Image from https://variety.com/2017/vintage/features/tolkien-lord-of-the-rings-1202506533/

https://www.tolkiensociety.org/author/biography/

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Comments

Amazing artist. What an ability to build worlds. Very thankful he existed. Very thankful so many have embraced his work in the film world also.

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4 months ago

I approved this article, but please change the first sentence. What you write there is confusing and entirely wrong: Tolkien was not born in 2021. I think it should be "January 3, 1892".

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5 months ago

Already changed it.

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5 months ago

Fine!

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5 months ago