Have you read the Lord of the Rings and wanted to know just a little bit more about the author behind the book? Or better yet, the man and boy behind the beloved fantasy writer. As I was reading the book, I certainly was intrigued and found some fun and interesting facts about Tolkien.
Tolkien is known for many things. He is known for being a devout Catholic, having acquired many different languages and he is mostly known for creating a story that is extremely detailed and feeds our imagination time and time again. Underneath all those layers, Tolkien was just a man and fortunately, history has been able to store some intriguing facts about J.R.R. Tolkien.
J.R.R. Tolkien was born in South-Africa, Bloemfontijn. He moved to England when he was four, right after his father passed away.
Have you ever stopped and wondered what J.R.R. actually stands for? Surprisingly, it is not a pseudonym, such as J.K. Rowling, E.L. James etc. Tolkien’s full name is John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. I guess his dear old pappa and mamma are to thank for the lovely melody to his initials.
3. The orphan
His father passed away when he was four and his mother died during his teens of diabetes. Tolkien and his brother Hilary were taken care of by Francis Morgan, a Catholic priest, as his mother’s choice for converting to Catholicism had estranged her from her family.
4. Master of Languages
Tolkien mastered more languages than just the standard ones taught in school those days. Amongst those languages were Finnish and Gothic, but it didn’t stop with just learning. He started creating his own languages early on as well.
5. Inspiration for The Hobbit
The inspiration for the Hobbit began when he was marking examinations and found a blank page. From nowhere a sentence popped up in his head and he wrote down “in a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit” on the page.
The Lord of the Rings was not received with the enthusiasm we know now. It received many different responses, both loving and extremely criticising.
7. Tolkien’s Romantic Side
Tolkien had an exciting love story of his own. At age 16 Tolkien met the 19 year old Edith Mary Bratt. Tolkien being a Catholic and Edith being a Protestant raised issues and he was forbidden to contact Edith in any way until he was 21. Tolkien did as he was told, but, when he had almost reached 21, he wrote Edith and asked her to marry him. Yet Edith, at that time, was engaged to another, as Edith believed Tolkien had lost interest in her. Faith, however, made them run into each other and it was soon decided Edith would cancel her engagement and marry Tolkien instead. The difference in their religious background was resolved as Edith became a Catholic upon Tolkien’s request, which interestingly resembles his mother’s choice for converting to Catholicism upon marrying Tolkien’s father.
8. The three-year engagement
Long engagements do not mean there won’t be a happy ending. Edith and Tolkien waited over three years before they said “I do”, but stayed together till the very end.
9. Love for Latin
His love for language and his religious beliefs were so great that, when changes occurred in churches to perform Masses in English instead of the original Latin, he continued answering the Masses in Latin and made sure to be loud, so others could hear him.
10. Tolkien and Cars
Tolkien resented industrialisation, believing it did harm to the countryside of England. Instead, he travelled by bike often. His resentment for cars may also have been fueled by his poor driving skills.
Did some things surprise you about Mr. Tolkien? There is so much more to Tolkien’s life that has intrigued me. If you want to find out more, I’d recommend you to visit www.tolkiensociety.org, which has been my go-to website, when I was reading the Lord of the Rings.