J.R.R. Tolkien Poster


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Overview (4)

Born in Bloemfontein, Orange Free State [now in South Africa]
Died in Bournemouth, Dorset, England, UK  (bleeding ulcer and chest infection)
Birth NameJohn Ronald Reuel Tolkien
Height 5' 8½" (1.74 m)

Mini Bio (2)

English writer, scholar and philologist, Tolkien's father was a bank manager in South Africa. Shortly before his father died (1896) his mother took him and his younger brother to his father's native village of Sarehole, near Birmingham, England. The landscapes and Nordic mythology of the Midlands may have been the source for Tolkien's fertile imagination to write about 'the Shire' and 'hobbits' in his later book the Hobbit (1937). After his mother's death in 1904 he was looked after by Father Francis Xavier Morgan a RC priest of the Congregation of the Oratory. Tolkien was educated at King Edward VI school in Birmingham. He studied linguistics at Exeter College, Oxford, and took his B.A. in 1915. In 1916 he fought in World War I with the Lancashire Fusiliers. It is believed that his experiences during the Battle of the Somne may have been fueled the darker side of his subsequent novels. Upon his return he worked as an assistant on the Oxford English Dictionary (1918-20) and took his M.A. in 1919. In 1920 he became a teacher in English at the University of Leeds. He then went on to Merton College in Oxford, where he became Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon (1925-45) and Merton professor of English Language and Literature (1945-59). His first scholarly publication was an edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (1925). He also wrote books on Chaucer (1934) and Beowulf (1937). In 1939 Tolkien gave the Andrew Lang Lecture at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland titled: "On Fairy-Stories". Tolkien will however be remembered most for his books the Hobbit (1937) and the Lord of the Rings (1954-55). The Hobbit began as a bedtime story for his children". He wrote Lord of the Rings over a period of about 14 years.

Tolkien also discussed parts of his novels with fellow Oxfordian and fantasy writer CS Lewis during their 'meetings'. He was trying to create a fantasy world so that he could explain how he had invented certain languages, and in doing so created 'Middle-earth'. However among his peers at Oxford his works were not well received as they were not considered 'scholarly'. It was after LOTR was published in paperback in the United States in 1965 that he developed his legendary cult following and also imitators. Tolkien was W. P. Ker lecturer at Glasgow University in 1953. In 1954 both the University of Liege and University College, Dublin, awarded him honorary doctorates. He received the CBE in 1972. He served as vice-president of the Philological Society and was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. He was made an honorary fellow of Exeter College. Despite the immense popularity of his books today Tolkien did not greatly benefit from their sales. His son Christopher Tolkien was able to publish some of his works posthumously after his manuscripts were found.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Sujit R. Varma

J.R.R. Tolkien was an English writer, poet, philologist, and professor who is best known as the author of the classic high-fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.

Tolkien never expected his stories to become popular, but by sheer accident a book called The Hobbit, which he had written some years before for his own children, came in 1936 to the attention of Susan Dagnall, an employee of the London publishing firm George Allen & Unwin, who persuaded Tolkien to submit it for publication. However, when it was published a year later, the book attracted adult readers as well as children, and it became popular enough for the publishers to ask Tolkien to produce a sequel.

The request for a sequel prompted Tolkien to begin what would become his most famous work: the epic novel The Lord of the Rings (originally published in three volumes 1954-1955). Tolkien spent more than ten years writing the primary narrative and appendices for The Lord of the Rings, during which time he received the constant support of the Inklings, in particular his closest friend C. S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia. Both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are set against the background of The Silmarillion, but in a time long after it.

Tolkien at first intended The Lord of the Rings to be a children's tale in the style of The Hobbit, but it quickly grew darker and more serious in the writing. Though a direct sequel to The Hobbit, it addressed an older audience, drawing on the immense backstory of Beleriand that Tolkien had constructed in previous years, and which eventually saw posthumous publication in The Silmarillion and other volumes. Tolkien's influence weighs heavily on the fantasy genre that grew up after the success of The Lord of the Rings.

The Lord of the Rings became immensely popular in the 1960s and has remained so ever since, ranking as one of the most popular works of fiction of the 20th century, judged by both sales and reader surveys.

Tolkien wrote a brief "Sketch of the Mythology", which included the tales of Beren and Lúthien and of Túrin; and that sketch eventually evolved into the Quenta Silmarillion, an epic history that Tolkien started three times but never published.

After Tolkien's death, his son Christopher published a series of works based on his father's extensive notes and unpublished manuscripts, including The Silmarillion.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: Pedro Borges

Family (1)

Spouse Edith Bratt (22 March 1916 - 29 November 1971)  (her death)  (4 children)

Trade Mark (1)

Tweed jacket and pipe

Trivia (53)

Much of his work was published posthumously by his son Christopher Tolkien.
Tolkien served in the Lancashire Fusilliers in the First World War and fought in the Battle of the Somme. He was discharged in 1917 suffering from "trench fever".
During the flower-power sixties Leonard Nimoy recorded "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins".
A friend and fellow Oxford don with C.S. Lewis. They were both members of the Inklings.
Tolkien was one of the translators for The Jerusalem Bible.
Made up languages as a young child.
Widely considered as the founder of modern fantasy; the man who changed children's faerie tales into epic adventures (without losing the appeal).
As of 2001, his novel, 'The Lord of the Rings', has sold over 52 million copies worldwide and has been translated into 25 different languages.
Tolkien and his wife, Edith, are buried together in a single grave in the Catholic section of Wolvercote cemetery in the northern suburbs of Oxford. (The grave is well signposted from the entrance.) The legend on the headstone reads: "Edith Mary Tolkien, Lúthien, 1889-1971" and "John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, Beren, 1892-1973". The character names are those of lovers in Tolkien's novel, 'The Silmarillion'.
Member of the Oxford literary circle along with writers C.S. Lewis, Jeremy Dyson, Charles Williams, Messrs Coghill, and Owen Barfield.
Tolkien's reaction to several proposed film productions of his books was that he considered his works to be unstageable; he simply didn't feel that they could be successfully translated to a dramatic form. Although he had sold the film rights long before he died, he had no real expectation that "The Lord of the Rings" could be successfully filmed.
Tolkien's mother introduced him to Latin, French, and German. While at school (mostly at Oxford) he was taught or taught himself Greek, Middle English, Old English (also called Anglo Saxon), Old Norse (also called Old Icelandic), Gothic, Modern and medieval Welsh, Finnish, Spanish, and Italian. Other languages of which he had a working knowledge include Serbian, Russian, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian, Dutch, and Lombardic. In addition to these languages, Tolkien invented 14 different languages and assorted alphabets for his Middle-earth dwellers.
The British rock band Marillion, popular in the UK and Europe during the 1980s, took their name from his posthumously published collection 'The Silmarillion'. According to the band's original drummer, Mick Pointer: "Doug (Doug Irvine, the original bass player) was reading 'Silmarillion' at the time and I suggested that it would be a great name for the band".
His father died when Tolkien was 4, and his mother when he was 12. He and his brothers were then raised by a Catholic priest.
Taught at the University of Leeds before teaching at Oxford from 1925 - 1959.
Studied Old Norse and Old English at Oxford.
In 1999, 250,000 Amazon.com customers voted his The Lord of the Rings (first published 1954) as the "book of the millenium".
He was a philologist - someone who studies the history of languages.
The Inklings (Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Charles Williams & Owen Barfield) met on Tuesdays for lunch at the 'Eagle and Child' pub in Oxford where they would read out pages from their books.
Won the 'International Fantasy Award' in 1957 for his book 'The Lord of the Rings'. In 1973 he won the first 'Gandalf Award' (named after a character from his books) as Grandmaster (lifetime fantasy achivement). Posthumously he has been awarded the 'Locus Award' in 1978 for 'The Silmarillion' and the 'Mythopoeic Award' in 1981 for 'Unifinished Tales'. The 'Balrog Award' is also named after a character from his books.
Lord of the Ring-saga's world and its cast of characters have roots in real-world history and geography, from the world wars that dominated Tolkien's lifetime to the ancient language and legends of Finland. The Finnish national epic Kalevala inspired Tolkien and he taught himself the Finnish language so he could read it.
The German Heavy Metal band Blind Guardian base a lot of their songs on Tolkien's work, such as Nightfall in Middle-Earth (which is based on the Silmarillion), and other songs: Gandalf's Rebirth, Lord of the Rings, By the gates of Moria, etc.
Was extremely annoyed when 'The Lord of the Rings' was published in the mid-50s as three different stories, because he had never intended the tale to become a trilogy.
He opposed the development of the Concorde supersonic jetliner.
The lead characters in his best known works, Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit, and Frodo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings, have both been played by Orson Bean and Ian Holm.
Locus magazine conducted a poll in 1987 from among its readers to vote for the Best All-time Fantasy Novel. Tolkien's 'The Lord of the Rings' (1955) and 'The Hobbit' (1934) won 1st and 2nd place respectively. They beat out classics like Alice in Wonderland (1865), Dracula (1897) & The Wizard of Oz (1900).
The British progressive rock band Barclay James Harvest, popular in the UK during the 1970s and 1980s, recorded a single record under the pseudonymous name of 'Bombadil' in 1972, and a song under their own name of BJH, titled 'Galadriel' on their second album 'Once Again' (1971). They found much inspiration from Tolkien's writings, having come from the Saddleworth country in northern England.
The original publication of The Lord of the Rings was delayed for two reasons. Tolkien tried to get out of his obligation to his publisher, Allen & Unwin, because another publisher had agreed to his wish to use different colors of ink for different parts of the book. In particular, he wanted the writing on the Ring to be printed in red ink. That deal fell apart, and he went back to Allen & Unwin. The second reason was that he wanted The Silmarillion; which told the history of the Elves and of Aragorn's race, the Numenoreans; to be published alongside Rings. No publisher would agree to this, so The Silmarillion was not published until after his death.
One change that he vehemently opposed in any adaptation of his work was the intercutting of the various story threads that he had deliberately kept separate. To date, every adaptation has intercut the stories.
In "The Lord of the Rings", the wizard Gandalf is revealed to have an Elvish name, Mithrandir. This is an indirect reference to the story's Christian underpinnings. The name Mithrandir is derived from Mithras, a Pagan god with several parallels to stories of the life of Jesus: he was born on December 25 as the offspring of the Sun, had a Last Supper with his twelve followers, died, was buried under a rock, and reborn.

Gandalf, like Mithras and Jesus, dies and is reborn. Mithras sacrificed a cosmic bull, symbolizing darkness, while Gandalf falls fighting the Balrog. According to the book, the Fellowship that Gandalf leads sets out on December 25.
Shortly after the original publication of The Hobbit in 1937, his publisher, Allen & Unwin, tried to license several foreign language versions, including a German version. Before any German publishers would publish it, the Reich government wrote him a letter asking whether or not he was Aryan. He responded by saying that "I can only assume that you are asking if I am Jewish. I regret to respond that I have no ancestors among that gifted people." He added that although he did have German ancestry, "the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride". On account of this backhanded reply, The Hobbit was not published in Germany until after 1945.
By 2004 his "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy [1954-1955] had sold more than 100 million copies and is the best selling fiction book of all time. It is the 3rd best selling book of all time after "The Bible" [c. 1451-1455] (more than 6 billion copies) and "Quotations from the Works of Mao Tse-Tung" [1966] (900 million copies).
He started writing The Lord of the Rings with no idea where the story would eventually go. This led to it not being structured at all like a proper novel, with many characters left underdeveloped, many ideas repeated, and character groups being essentially forgotten for very long periods.
Said in an interview that the character Faramir was the Lord of the Ring character who was the most like himself.
The only actor from Peter Jackson's film adaptations of "Lord of the Rings" to have actually met JRR Tolkien is Christopher Lee. Lee was very fond of Tolkien's books and Tolkien himself even said that Lee would have been a good choice for the role of the wizard Saruman.
Once met Ava Gardner and neither knew why the other was famous.
While writing the Lord of the Rings, he originally intended for Aragorn to marry Éowyn, but later decided to have her marry Faramir and created the Arwen character for Aragorn.
Prior to their reunion inside the city of Minas Tirith, his characters Aragorn and Eowyn only have one conversation during the course of The Lord of the Rings, and it takes place shortly before Aragorn takes the Paths of the Dead in The Return of the King. Peter Jackson's film adaptation adds several more scenes between them, beginning in The Two Towers. Although all of these interactions were invented for the movie, all but three of them use dialogue from their one scene together in the book.
The appendices to The Return of the King features The Tale of Aragorn and Arwen, in which Aragorn's relationship with Arwen is given in detail, as well as his relationships with Elrond and his mother, Gilraen. His mother's final words to him are "Onen i-Estel Edain, u-chebin estel anim," which means "I have given Hope to the Dunedain, I have kept no hope for myself." This line is used in the film as the last verbal exchange between Aragorn and Elrond. In addition, Estel, or Hope, was a name by which Aragorn was known before his true heritage was revealed to him.
Biography/bibliography in: "Contemporary Authors". New Revision Series, vol. 134, pages 427-436. Farmington Hills, MI: Thomson Gale, 2005.
Many of his papers, including original manuscripts and illustrations for "The Hobbit" (1937), "Farmer Giles of Ham" (1949), and "The Lord of the Rings" (1954-1955), were sold to the Raynor Memorial Libraries of Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA. The library approached him, Tolkien selected Marquette because he wanted his papers to be kept by a Catholic institution which would be willing to provide for proper care and preservation of the materials. The library periodically puts selected items from the collection on public display. His other papers are at the Bodleian Library of Oxford University.
Colleagues urged him to submit his elvish alphabet for consideration to win a prize established by George Bernard Shaw for the creation of a phonetically consistent alphabet for English. He declined to do so, another example of his reluctance to exploit his creation.
The first music inspired by his work was written by the English songwriting team of Donald Swann and Michael Flanders, who set poems from "The Hobbit", "The Lord of the Rings" and other works to music and included them in their 1963 revue "At the Drop of a Hat". When an interviewer called Swann "elfin", he said, "Yes, and in the show, I sing in Elvish!" In 1970, Swedish keyboardist Bo Hansson recorded "Music Inspired by 'Lord of the Rings'", becoming the first in a series of pop artists to do so for the rock-oriented market.
Derived his two main Elvish languages from a fictional root language. High Elvish (or Quenya) was derived from the root using the principles of Finnish phonology and grammar, while Low Elvish (or Sindarin) was derived using the principles of Welsh phonology and grammar.
The character of Gollum from his epic "Lord of the Rings" trilogy is ranked #10 on Premiere Magazine's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time.
Once said that the words "cellar door" were the most beautiful phrase he had heard. Though he is not identified as the person who said this, and director Richard Kelly mistakenly gives credit to Edgar Allan Poe in his DVD commentary, his fondness for the phrase is referenced by Drew Barrymore in the film 'Donny Darko' (2001).
Great-grandfather of actor Royd Tolkien.
Tolkien was in the British Army during World War I. He enlisted as a second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers later in the same year. Tolkien was in France during the Somme Offensive, July 1916. He wrote about going out into no man's land and finding the corpse's of earlier dead.
He based many of the locations in the "Lord of The Rings" on areas around Birmingham during his childhood. For instance, the structure of Isengard was based on the University of Birmingham, the two towers were based on Edgbaston Waterworks tower and Perrott's Folly, and the Shire was inspired by Sarehole, a small hamlet just outside of Birmingham.
He based the description of Mordor, home to the evil lord Sauron, on the Black Country, a section of Birmingham which was heavily polluted by iron foundries, coal mines and steel mills due to the Industrial Revolution. The air in it was so dense with smog and dust it was difficult to breathe.
He was awarded the CBE (Commander of the Order of the British Empire) in the 1972 Queen's New Year Honours List for his services to literature.
He was a very poor driver to the point that his wife refused to get into a car with him. He eventually stopped driving entirely and relied on his bicycle.

Personal Quotes (14)

"American English is essentially English after having been wiped off with a dirty sponge." - from a letter in 1953 to Robert Murray, a Jesuit priest, in the book, 'The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien' (1981)
'The Lord of the Rings' is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out practically all references to anything like 'religion,' to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and symbolism.
It's a job that's never started that takes the longest to finish.
I cordially dislike allegory in all its manifestations, and always have done since I grew old and wary enough to detect its presence.
...The Hobbits are just rustic English people, made small in size because it reflects the generally small reach of their imagination - not the small reach of their courage or latent power.
I am in fact a hobbit in all but size. I like gardens, trees, and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food...and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats...
If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.
Little by little, one travels far.
The Hobbits are just rustic English people, made small in size because it reflects the generally small reach of their imagination.
I do not love the bright sword for it's sharpness, nor the arrow for it's swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.
The wise speak only of what they know.
A single dream is worth more than a thousand realities.
There is one criticism of the Lord of the Rings I keep hearing, that I agree with, that it is too short.
He who breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom.

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