John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892 and moved to
England after the death of his father. He and the members of his family were devout Roman Catholics, on the borderline of poverty in young
Tolkien’s life. His mother died in 1904, and he and his brothers were then raised by the parish priest of their church. By age 12, Tolkien was displaying remarkable linguistic skills. He mastered a number of languages including Latin, Greek, Gothic, and Finnish. He and his friends
In 1911, Tolkien began studying at Exeter College, Oxford. He studied
Classics, Old English, and other languages. Because of the distractions of his relationship with Edith Bratt, he had obtained a second class degree in his Classics course. As a result, he changed his studies to English
Language and Literature. While taking these classes, he discovered a poem,
Crist of Cynewulf
, that would later influence his novel,
greatly. In 1915, he received a first-class degree in English Language and
Tolkien enlisted into battle when a war broke out in 1915’s England. He fought in the trenches for four months until a typhus-like infection caused him to be hospitalized. It was during his time of illness on medical leave that he was able to develop the beginning drafts of his story, including the first ideas of
Many of his personal reveries shaped and inspired characters and plots of his beloved stories.
When Tolkien was discharged from the military, he seeked academic employment in multiple occupations, including the Assistant
Lexicographer of the Oxford English Dictionary and later being appointed
as Associate Professor in English Language at the University of Leeds.
While in this position, Tolkien collaborated with other authors in fictional works and invented his infamous “Elvish” languages.
Professional Writing Career
He began his initial writing career with academic publications like his lecture,
Beowulf, The Monsters and the Critics
. In 1945, he changed his career chair to the Merton Professorship of English Language and
Literature, and remained in this position until his retirement in 1959.
Tolkien also published a series of illustrated Christmas letters for his children in 1976, titled
The Father Christmas Letters