Happy Birthday J.R.R. Tolkien

jrr_tolkien325pxToday would have been the 123rd birthday of J.R.R. (John Ronald Reuel) Tolkien, born in 1892 to English parents in Bloemfontein, South Africa, where his father was working in a bank.

Tolkien was always fascinated with languages; he went to school at Oxford, first studying Classics, and later, English Language and Literature. He came across an Old English poem by Cynewulf, which contained a couplet that fascinated him:

“Hail Earendel brightest of angels / Over Middle Earth sent to men.”

The couplet found new life in the universe of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in 1955, which takes place in Middle Earth and includes a half-Elven character named Earendil the Mariner, who eventually becomes a star.

In 1925, Tolkien returned to Oxford University as a professor of Anglo-Saxon and, later, English Language and Literature. One day, while grading exams, he discovered that a student had left one whole page in his examination booklet blank. Tolkien, for reasons unknown even to him, wrote on the page, “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” This single line turned into a bedtime story that he told his children, and from there, a book: The Hobbit in 1937.

Tolkien passed away on September 2, 1973 in Bournemouth, United Kingdom.

Thanks to The Writer’s Almanac for much of the above.


About The Word Of Jeff

I'm a freelance writer and blogger who has written for, among others, Tribune Media Services, Suite101 and Athena Guides. As an intrepid traveler I have chronicled some of my travels at The Verbal Vagabond, my travel blog. And, being an avid amateur photographer, I also have a photography blog spotlighting photos I have taken of areas around my hometown at Postcards From Maggie Valley. Speaking of Maggie Valley, that is where my wife, our Golden Retriever/Border Collie mix, Bella, our Orange Tabby, Tigger and I live in a log cabin on a mountain in Western North Carolina, just at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. I enjoy hiking, camping, art, travel, photography (as mentioned above), and an occasional glass of good wine while reading or writing in front of the fireplace.
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