Books, Films

J. R. R. Tolkien – A Legendary Fantasy Writer

An Inspired Writing Career

J. R. R. Tolkien’s novels were inspired from places he visited, events that occurred from his childhood onwards, his indoctrination into Catholicism and the extensive reading he did during his lifetime, including: British adventure stories, European mythology and Old English literature. His writings included a detailed translation of Beowulf, one of the most important works of Old English literature, which was published almost 40 years after his death. His reading had led Tolkien to believe that modern English culture lacked the great myths that other nations has left behind, however, and in a letter to one of his fans, Tolkien admitted to writing the stories about Middle Earth ‘to restore to the English an epic tradition, and present them with a mythology of their own.’

The Hobbit was originally written to amuse Tolkien’s children, but came to the attention of Susan Dagnall, of the publishing firm George Allen and Unwin, and she convinced the author to publish it in 1936. The book was well received by both children and adults, and the firm requested a sequel. Tolkien began writing The Lord of the Rings in a similar style to The Hobbit, but the story developed a sinister theme becoming more appealing to adults. The sequel took Tolkien a decade to complete, as a result of the detail included in the expansion of the story.

J. R. R. Tolkien also wrote other popular stories, including several children books, and novels published posthumously. His work includes: The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales and the History of Middle Earth, Mr. Bliss, and The Children of Hurin.

Death and Legacy

Tolkien’s beloved, Edith, died on November 29, 1971, and he followed 21 months after, at the age of 81. The causes of his death was determined to be a bleeding ulcer and a chest infection and the author was laid to rest in the same grave as his wife. Before his death, Tolkien had negotiated the sale of the materials related to his then published works to the Department of Special Collections and University Archives at Marquette University. After he passed away, his estate also donated papers to the Bodleian Library at Oxford University.

Between the years of 2001 and 2003, The Lord of the Rings was converted into Box Office films, followed by The Hobbit between 2012 and 2014. The movies won numerous awards, and the legacy continues to grow with the rights to produce a TV series, The Lord of the Rings, granted to Amazon, which will be based on Tolkien’s original writings. There are many places worldwide which have also been named after the characters, places and scenes in the author’s books, and the story of Middle Earth continues to delight fans decades after Tolkien’s death.

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