#146.J.R.R. Tolkien

Sunday, March 15, 2009 by: PBC

I had zeal to read in childhood. I was lucky to read many classics in school as well as almost all works by Munshi Premchand (Hindi).

In Hindi literature, Munshi Premchand's Mansarover (8-volume short stories collection series) are my favorites. First time I read in class 7th. The librarian of my school was reluctant to give me books as I everyday took a book & return next day. He thought that I was not reading. That day I was returning Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's travels. He put a condition, if I could write summary, he would not only allow to take new book (as rule of our school library), but up to 3 books per day. I won the bet.

I just know there are many friends like me, that's why I'm posting many books & comics in one post.

Still I love to read contemporary & classical books in English & Russian starting from old Greek literature to contemporary best sellers. But 4 books are First among equals.
  1. Kane and Abel (1979) by Jeffrey Archer. The book tells the stories of two men born worlds apart. They have nothing in common except the same date of birth (April 18, 1906) and a zeal to succeed in life.
  2. Not a Penny More, Not a Penny Less (1976) by Jeffrey Archer. It was said to have been inspired by Archer's real-life experience of near-bankruptcy.
  3. The Godfather (1969) by Mario Puzo. Most impressive character for me "Vito Corleone".
  4. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit (1937), but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in stages between 1937 and 1949, much of it during World War II. For many it's the father of fantasy. But for me, it's more than the grand father of fantasy.
One of my favorite author
Brief Biography of
John Ronald Reul Tolkien

(From www.biographyonline.net)

Early Life J.R.R. TolkienJ.R.R. Tolkien was born in 1892, Bloomfontein, South Africa. After 3 years in South Africa, he returned to England with his Mother Mabel; unfortunately his father died 1 year later, leaving him with little memory of his father. His early childhood was, by all accounts, a happy one; he was brought up in the Warwickshire countryside (many regard this idealised upbringing as the basis for the Shire in Lord of the Rings). In 1904, when John was just 12, his mother Mabel died from diabetes leaving a profound mark on him and his brother. After his mother’s passing, he was brought up by the family’s Catholic priest, Father Xavier Morgan. From an early age, J.R.R. Tolkien was an excellent scholar, with an unusually specialised interest in languages. He enjoyed studying languages especially Greek, Anglo Saxon, and later at Oxford, Finnish.
Although a scholar at King Edward VI school, he failed to win a scholarship to Oxford. His guardian, Father Xavier, put this down to his burgeoning romance with his childhood sweetheart, Edith. Father Xavier, thus, made John promise not to see Edith until he was 21. John agreed to his request, and faithfully waited until his 21st birthday. On this date he renewed his contact with Edith, and successfully persuaded her to marry him. It is a testament to his belief in faithfulness and honesty, that he was willing to wait several years to meet his wife; such sentiments of nobility appear frequently in his writings; for example, the magnificent love story of Beren and Luthien.

J.R.R.Tolkien in Oxford

From an academic point of view, his separation from Edith seemed to do the trick, and a year later he won an exhibition to Exeter College, Oxford where he would study classics. John did not particularly shine in this subject, and decided to switch to English literature. He was a competent scholar, but a lot of his time was spent researching other languages in the Bodleian library. It was here in Oxford that he became fascinated with Finnish, a language which would form the basis for Quenya; a language he would later give to his Elves. His love of languages remained with Tolkien throughout his life; in particular, he began developing his own languages, a remarkable undertaking. In fact, in later commented that languages lied at the heart of his writings; the Silmarillion and Lord of the Rings. He actually said, the stories existed to provide an opportunity to use the languages. Devotees of the book may not agree, but it does illustrate the profound importance he attached to the use of languages.

J.R.R.Tolkien First World War

At the outbreak of the First World War, J.R.R. Tolkien decided to finish off his degree before enlisting in 1916. Joining the Lancashire fusiliers, he made it to the Western Front just before the great Somme offensive. At first hand, J.R.R. Tolkien witnessed the horrors and carnage of the “Great War”; he lost many close friends, tellingly he remarked “By 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead”. J.R.R. Tolkien survived, mainly due to the persistent reoccurrence of trench fever, which saw him invalided back to England. He rarely talked about his experiences directly, but the large-scale horrors of war, will undoubtedly have influenced his writings in some way. Perhaps the imagery for the wastelands of Mordor may have had birth in the muddy horrors of the Western Front.
It was back in England, in 1917, that J.R.R Tolkien began working on his epic - "The Silmarillion". The Silmarillion, lies at the heart of all Tolkien’s mythology, it is a work he continually revised, until his death in 1973. The Silmarillion makes hard reading, in that, it is not plot driven but depicts the history of a universe, through an almost biblical overview. It moves from the Creation of the Universe, to the introduction of evil and the rebellion of the Noldor. It is in the Silmarillion that many roots from the Lord of the Rings stem. It gives the Lord of the Rings the impression of a real epic. It becomes not just a story, but also the history of an entire world and peoples.

Writing the Hobbit

Initially J.R.R Tolkien’s writings on the Silmarillion were known by very few. He found his time absorbed in teaching and other duties of being a professor. He also found time to write important papers on medieval literature. These included seminal works on, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, and Beowulf. In 1945, he was given the Merton professorship, and gained additional duties of teaching and lecturing.
It was sometime after 1930 that Tolkien gained an unexpected inspiration to start writing the Hobbit. It was whilst marking an examination paper, that he jotted in the margins of a paper the immortal words “In a hole in the ground lived a hobbit.” Unlike the Silmarillion, the Hobbit was a simple fairy tale and adventure for children. Hinting at evil things, it still ends in a happy ending for all and is primarily concerned with a triumph of good over evil. In the course of the next few years, friends including C.S. Lewis, read his manuscript and gave good reviews.. In the course of time the publisher, Allen and Unwin, got to read it; with a glowing reference from, Rayner Unwin, the 10 year old son of Mr Unwin; the book was published to commercial success.

Lord of the Rings

Due to the success of the hobbit, Allen and Unwin, encouraged J.R.R. Tolkien to write a sequel. Thus over a period of many years, J.R.R. Tolkien began writing the Lord of the Rings. This soon became quite different to the hobbit, both in scope and dimension. Putting its roots into the Silmarillion, it became an epic of unprecedented depth. No longer was Tolkien writing a simplistic adventure story; the triumph of good over evil is no longer so complete. Even in the mission’s success there is no obvious happy ending. There is a feeling of permanent change; nothing can remain as it is. As well as being a fascinating story line, the book deals with many issues of how people respond to certain choices and the influence of power and ego. It can be read in many ways, but it does offer an underlying moral and spiritual dimension, which is inherent in the development of the story.
Due to the sheer scope and length of the book, the publishers Allen and Unwin, were wary of publication. They worried about whether it would be a commercial success. Eventually they decided to publish the book, but split it up into 6 sections; they also offered no payment to J.R.R Tolkien, until the book moved into profit. The first edition was published in 1954, and soon became a good seller. However, it was in 1965 when the book was published in America, that it really took off becaming an international bestseller. Somehow the book managed to capture the mood of the 60s counter culture, and it became immensely popular on American campuses. Tolkien, became a household name, and Lord of the Rings would soon become renowned as the most popular book of all time.
Although the book has received the most powerful popular acclaim, it has not always received the same commendation from the literary world. In 1972, Oxford University conferred on Tolkien the honorary degree of, Doctor of Letters. This was not for his writing, but his researches on linguistic studies. Tolkien, however, would have taken no offence at this award. For him his linguistic studies were as important if not more so than his fictional literary endeavours.
He did not particularly enjoy the fame that came from his literary success, and in 1968 he moved to Poole to gain a little more privacy. His beloved wife, Edith, died in 1971, and J.R.R.Tolkien died a couple of years later in 1973. After his death his creations gained increased popularity and sales. Even before the release of the Lord of the Rings films, the book, "Lord of the Rings" was often voted as best loved book of all time. His son, Christopher Tolkien, carefully went through all his manuscripts, and published posthumously several histories of middle earth, encompassing various early drafts of stories and histories.
By: Tejvan R. Pettinger 12/01/07

Related Pages


  • The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. Edited by Humphrey Carpenter. Glasgow, 1995, Harper Collins.
  • “Biography: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien” 26 Jun 02
    Carpenter, Humphrey. J R R Tolkien: A biography. Glasgow, 2002, Harper Collins.

Read more details at www.tolkiensociety.org, Wikipedia, www.daimi.au.dk

Check HERE for comics based on his books & books.

Note: Comics "The Lord of the Rings" is 'scanlations' of the German comics by loopyjoe , i.e. scans where the text has been changed into English. These comics were apparently published in Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Finland, Denmark and Sweden, in various languages but unfortunately not in English.

He says:

".......Unfortunately I DIDN'T KNOW ANY GERMAN! Nevertheless, with the help of a German-English dictionary, a transcript of the animated movie adaptation and of course a copy of Tolkien's novel, I was reasonably pleased with the results."

Big thanks to him for such a wonderful job.

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