Remembering the Life and Career of J.R.R. Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, better known as J.R.R. Tolkien was a scholar and writer most famous for writing The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954–1955), both of which have been turned into major movie franchises. Born in 1892, he passed away at the age of 81 on September 2, 1973. Though he has been gone for 50 years now, his work lives on and is still loved by millions of readers around the world.
Tolkien’s childhood was filled with tragedy. His father, Arthur Reuel Tolkien passed away in 1896, and later his mother Mabel in 1904. This left his sister and himself in the care of relatives and Father Francis Xavier Morgan, who ensured that the children grew up in the Roman Catholic Church. Tolkien remained a devout Catholic his entire life. Prior to his mother’s death, she instilled in him a love of reading and let him read all sorts of classic books.
In his teen years, Tolkien showed that he was gifted in reading, writing and linguistics. He started making up his own languages for fun, which makes sense if you’ve read any of the Lord of the Rings books. By the time he was 24, he wed Edith Bratt and the two remained married until her death in 1971. They had four children together. Prior to writing his great novels, he was sent on active duty in the military and suffered from “trench fever,” but ultimately recovered. In 1918, he was appointed assistant lexicographer on the New English Dictionary, and in 1920 he became an associate professor (then called a Reader) of English language at the University of Leeds.
He continued to work as a professor and a writer. Some of Tolkien’s other popular works are The Silmarillion, The Children of Húrin, The Monsters and the Critics and Other Essays, and Letters from Father Christmas (featuring actual letters that Tolkien wrote to his children as Father Christmas). In his social life, he was one of the founding members of The Inklings, a group that also included C.S. Lewis. Of course, he is best known as the writer of the Lord of the Rings books. He wrote six books in the series, usually distributed with two per volume.
Tolkien lived an exceptional life, not one without hardships but he received lots of praise for his work, especially in his last few years. May he continue to rest in peace.