English Literature

J. R. R. Tolkien 1892 -1973


             J. R.R.Tolkien in later life


"I am in fact a hobbit, in all but size"

"Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible, and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opionions of their works..."


His two most popular works: 'The Hobbit' and 'Lord of the Rings'



Bilbo at home


Bilbo and Dwarves



Frodo and Gandalf

The Mirror of Galadriel

 John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was a major scholar of the English language, specialising in Old and Middle English, and wrote two of the most well-known and best-loved books of the twentieth century, 'The Hobbit' (1937) and 'The Lord of the Rings' (1954-1955). Both of these books are set in an invented version of the world which he called middle earth. This fantasy world was peopled by men (and women), Elves, Dwarves, Trolls, Orcs (or Goblins), Wizards, and, of course, Hobbits.

Tolkien's father moved from England to South Africa in search of an easier life. And it was there that J.R.R was born in January 1892. However, as his father died soon after his birth the family moved back to England. They settled down in the West Midlands area of England where they lived on the genteel side of poverty.

Despite his financial position he managed to get to university and studied English Language and Literature at Oxford. After the completion of his degree he joined the army and fought in the trenches of the first world war. And it is here that he first began to write seriously.

After the war he obtained his first civilian job as an 'assistant' working on the new edition of the Oxford English Dictionary. In 1920 he applied for a job as lecturer in English Language at the University of Leeds and much to his surprise was appointed! At Leeeds as well as teaching he translated the Old English epic 'Sir Gawain and the Geen Knight' into modern English, and also worked on other lesser known works. In 1925 he moved to Oxford University as Professor of Anglo-Saxon English. Although, later he changed to Professor of English Language and Literature, he remained at Oxford University until his retirement in 1959.

His family life was pretty straightfoward. He married Edith (his childhood sweetheart) during the first world war and they had three children. They remained happily married until Edith's death in 1969.

He was a good friend of C. S. Lewis, author of 'The Lion, the Witch and the Wardobe'.

The images Tolkien paints with words are very often drawn from his own knowledge and experiences: the first world war, his life in England, and his vast knowledge and fascination with the mythology of Britain. Much of his work is based on Christian, Celtic, Norse and Anglo-Saxon sources. And an important theme for Tolkien was his belief that all men are free to choose their own destinies.   

'The Hobbit', the first of his two best sellers,  is one of the most important works in fantasy fiction. It chronicles the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit used to his comfortable domestic life in a sleepy village. Gandalf, a powerful wizard, ropes Bilbo into helping a band of dwarves reclaim their mountain home and the treasure accumulated there. However, both are guarded by a huge and fierce dragon, Smaug. On route Bilbo and the dwarves encounter evil goblins, huge spiders, enchanted forests, wicked trolls, magic rings, and many other fantastic things. During the story Bilbo is transformed from a dull, provincial homelover to a more than competent adventurer.

Tolkien originally created 'The Hobbit' for children, and consequently the narrative has a simple, easy to read style. There is little violence in the story, and  is one of those rare stories that appeals to all age groups. I first read it when I was ten years old and have read it several times since!

'The Fellowship of the Ring' is the first part of the trilogy 'The Lord of the Rings'. It's story begins fifty years after 'The Hobbit' took place. Here, Tolkien introduces us to PAGE UNDER CONSTRUCTION! 


The road goes on ever on and on                                                  Down from the door where it began                                       Now far ahead the road has gone                                             And I must follow, if I can,                                                         Pursuing it within eager feet,                                                      Until it joins some larger way                                                      Where many paths and errands meet.                                        And whither then?  I cannot say.

"The time of my thought is my own to spend"

"I will take the ring," he said,                                  "though I do not know the way".

"Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens"

"It's the job that's never started that takes longest to finish"

"Now is the time when those who wish to continue the quest must harden their hearts to leave this land"

"One ring to rule them all, one ring to find them, one ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them"

"Time does not tarry ever, but change and growth is not in all things and places alike"

"All that is gold does not glitter; not all those that wander are lost"

"I will not say: do not weep; for not all tears are an evil"

"I don't know half of you half as well as I should like; and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve"

"He who breaks a thing to find out what it is, has left the path of wisdom"

"Few can foresee whither their road will lead them, till they come to its end"

"The treacherous are never distrustful"

"These are indeed strange days. Dreams and legends spring to life out of the grass"