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Biography

 

1992 marked the 100-year anniversary of the birth of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, one of the best fantasy writers of all time. Tolkien created a world, which was the setting for many of his books. This world had its own history, and races, which are all explored in books such as The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.

J.R.R. Tolkien was born in the town of Bloemfontain, South Africa on January 3rd, 1892, to English parents. His father, Arthur, had moved to take up a senior position with a bank.

In April of 1895, John (who was called Ronald), his mother, and brother Hilary returned to England, while Arthur remained in South Africa with plans to join his family when time permits. However, Arthur died on February 15, 1896 as a result of a severe hemorrhage he had suffered the previous day. He was suffering from rheumatic fever for many months, and never returned to see his family. After Arthur's death, the family moved from Birmingham to the hamlet of Sarehole.
In the autumn of 1899 Ronald took the entrance exam for King Edwards School, but failed to obtain a place. He retook the exam a year later, and was accepted. Later that year, the family moved from Sarehole to Moseley, to be closer to Birmingham and King Edwards School. During the next few years, the family moved a number of times, first from Mosely to King's Heath Station in 1901, then from there to Edgbaston in 1902. To save money, Mabel removed the boys from King Edwards and enrolled them in St. Philips. However, Ronald won a Scholarship to King Edwards in 1903, and returned there to continue his studies.

On November 14, 1904, Mabel died at the age of 34, after six days in a diabetic coma. Ronald and his brother were left to the care of Father Francis Morgan, a priest at the Birmingham Oratory. In Early 1908, Ronald and Hilary moved to 37 Duchess Road, behind the Birmingham Oratory, and Ronald began his first term at Oxford. On December 17, 1910, he was awarded an Open Classical Exhibition to Exeter College.

In 1915, Ronald graduated from Oxford with a First in English Language and Literature, and at once took up his commission as a second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers. On March 22, 1916 John Ronald Reuel Tolkien married Edith Bratt, his childhood sweetheart. He was then assigned to the Lancashire Fusiliers and sent to France, where he saw some action in Somme as second Lieutenant, and later returned to England suffering from shell shock.

In 1917, Tolkien's first son John was born. Tolkien worked as an assistant on the Oxford English Dictionary for two years. A year after that, his second son Michael was born. In 1921, Tolkien began teaching at the University of Leeds as Reader in the English Language. Three years later, he became Professor of English Language at Leeds. Also that year, his third son Christopher was born.

In 1925, Tolkien moved to Oxford, where he served as Rawlingson Professor of Anglo-Saxon and Fellow of Pembroke College for the next 24 years. Four years later, in 1929, Tolkien's forth child, Priscilla, was born. Over the past few years, He had already started to write a great cycle of the myths and legends of Middle-earth, which was to become The Silmarillion. Around 1933, Tolkien first began telling his children of a funny little creature named Bilbo. Tolkien got the idea for The Hobbit from these stories, and in 1936, he completed the book. A year later The Hobbit was published by Stanley Unwin, and proved to be so successful that Sir Stanley was soon asking for a sequel.

In 1945, Tolkien became Merton Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford; a position he held until his retirement in 1959. He completes the sequel to The Hobbit in 1948. The first two parts were published in 1954, under the titles The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. A year later, the third part, The Return of the King was published.

In 1957, Tolkien was to travel to the United States to accept honorary degrees from Marquette, Harvard, and several other universities, and to deliver a series of addresses, but the trip was cancelled due to the ill health of his wife Edith. He retired two years later, in 1959, from his professorship at Oxford. In 1965, The Lord of the Rings American paperback edition was published.

In 1968, the Tolkien family moved to Poole near Bournemouth. After Edith's death on November 29, 1971, Tolkien returned to Oxford. He received C.B.E. from the Queen.

J.R.R. Tolkien died on September 2, 1973 at the age of eighty-one in a private hospital in Bournemouth, leaving his great mythological work, The Silmarillion, to be edited by his son, Christopher. It was published posthumously by his son in 1977.


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