Jan. 3, 1892 Bloemfontein Free State, South Africa
Sep. 2, 1973 Bournemouth Dorset, England
Author. He is famed for his "Middle Earth" series of books, including the best selling "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. Born to a bank clerk and his wife in Bloemfontein, South Africa, he was the eldest son of two boys. When his father died in 1896, his mother, Mabel Suffield Tolkien, took the two boys and returned to the West Midlands of England, where she had grown up. When he was twelve, his mother died suddenly of diabetes, and a Catholic priest, Father Francis Morgan, eventually took in the two orphans. Showing a clear gift for languages, Ronald (as he was known to his friends) went to Exeter College in Oxford, England, where he obtained a degree in June 1915. World War I had broken out, so Ronald enlisted, and due to his mastery of several ancient and modern European languages, he was quickly promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers. After participating in the Battle of the Somme (1916), he came down with trench fever and in November 1916, was evacuated back to England to convalesce. Most of his school friends had been killed in the war, and they served as the inspiration for many of the stories in his first book "The Book of Lost Tales", published after his death. With the ending of the war in 1918, he demobilized, and became an Assistant Lexicographer on the New Oxford English Dictionary. In 1920, he was hired as Associate Professor in English Language at the University of Leeds. In 1925, he was appointed to the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professorship of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University. In 1945, he became the Merton Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford, a position that he retained until his retirement in 1959. In 1937, his first major book, "The Hobbit", was published. When "The Hobbit" was immediately successful, his publisher asked for additional writings, which became the 16-year effort to write "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, first published in 1954. Receiving mixed literary reviews, the trilogy was made by BBC Radio into a twelve-episode radio program in 1956, which in turn, made the book a best seller. In 1965, a pirated paperback version of "The Lord of the Rings" was printed, and rapidly achieved cult status by 1968 for its imagination and poetic-ness. Suddenly rich, he moved to an unlisted address in Bournemouth, to escape his numerous fans. After his wife passed away, though, he returned to Oxford, where he died in September 1973. Buried in Wolvercote cemetery, Oxford, the names Luthien and Beren on their grave marker refer to their names for each other, which also served as inspiration to two characters in his books about Middle-Earth. Since his death, many of his manuscripts have been published, under son Christopher Tolkien's editorship, and nearly all have been best sellers. (bio by: Kit and Morgan Benson)
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“They would sit together under the stars, recalling the ages that were gone and all their joys and labours in the world, or holding council, concerning the days to come.” from The Lord of the RingsRequiesat in Pace -
Susan Maly Added: Apr. 20, 2016