Some things you didn’t know about J. R. R. Tolkien


Everyone knows that J. R. R. Tolkien wrote the Lord of the Rings books, but what else do you know about Tolkien? John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was his full name. He was born in South Africa on the 3rd of January 1892 and died on the 2nd of September 1973 at the age of 81-82. He began living in England at the age of 3, a decision made by his mother after his father passed away. He was best known for his fantasy novels: The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion. Tolkien was one of the authors to bring the genre of fantasy to the forefront in literature.

Here are some interesting facts on Tolkien:

Most of Tolkien’s ancestors were craftsmen. The surname Tolkien comes from the German word Tollkuehn, which means fool-hardy.

As a young teen Tolkien started to explore languages. The first 3 languages that Tolkien worked on were Animalic, (which he didn’t invent himself) Nevbosh (means ‘new nonsense’) and Naffarin (he worked on by himself).

Tolkien’s wife Edith was 3 years older than him. He was not allowed to marry her until he turned 21. On the day he turned 21, he wrote to Edith asking her when he would see her again and declared his love. Edith wrote back telling him that she was already engaged to another man. The reason for this was that she believed Tolkien had forgotten about her. Tolkien got on a train to see her as soon as he heard. She returned the engagement ring to the other man and accepted Tolkien’s proposal.

Tolkien fought in World War I and lost many of his friends there.

Tolkien wrote an essay in 1936 Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics. ‘Beowulf’ wasn’t highly regarded at the time as great literature. After Tolkien’s essay things changed and people started to see ‘Beowulf’ in a different light. If it wasn’t for Tolkien many of us would never of even heard of ‘Beowulf.’

Tolkien was friends with C.S. Lewis.

When Tolkien’s son Michael entered the army and had to fill in paper work, he put down that his father’s profession was a ‘Wizard.’

Tolkien enjoyed forming clubs while he was at university. One was a Viking club and the other was a club called ‘the inklings.’ ( a literary discussion group)

Tolkien always saw himself as a scholar first and a writer second. He was skeptical of his fans, believing that they were incapable of really appreciating his work.

Most people think of The Lord of the Rings books as a trilogy, because that is how they were published, but in fact it is meant to be one novel.

Tolkien didn’t see ‘Frodo’ as being the main hero of The Lord of the Rings. He always claimed that ‘Sam’ was the real hero of the story. If most people knew this before they read the books, it would definitely change how it is seen.

The Lord of the Rings took Tolkien 14 years to write. It is also believed that when he needed a copy of the manuscript, he didn’t have the resources to make one, so he retyped the whole thing again himself.

Some of Tolkien’s publications that you should consider reading are: Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics.

The Hobbit

The Lord of the Rings

The Silmarillion

Unfinished Tales and The History of Middle-Earth

The Children of Hurin

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun

Children’s stories:

The Father Christmas Letters

Mr Bliss


Tree and Leaf

The Adventures of Tom Bombadil

On Fairy-Stories (an essay)

Smith of Wootton Major

Farmer Giles of Ham

J. R. R. Tolkien was an author with the ability to create worlds that were as believable as our reality.



30 thoughts on “Some things you didn’t know about J. R. R. Tolkien

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  1. There’s actually a fantasy book series called ‘The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica’ that deals with Tolkien and Lewis. I’d say more, but it’s easy to spoil the ending of the first book.

  2. Great work. I did wonder about the typing and retyping – surely, I thought, he didn’t get the faculty secretaries to do it and re-do it! Some certainly would have.
    Love to read the Beowulf piece.
    Diana Wynne Jones the writer was a student of his, and has amusing things to say, as well as a very useful piece on the narration of LofR, in her book Reflections (on the art of Writing)(?)).

  3. This is great. I’ve read a few biographies about J.R.R. Tolkien and this very well researched. He’s one of my favorite writers. So I enjoy finding others who feel the same.

    1. Thank you! I must admit I got carried away for a couple of hours just reading information on him… It was all so very interesting! I love that this blog has enabled me to connect with others with the same interests.

  4. strange a few years ago I read a biography of Tolkien but could not remember a thing of it besides that he was friends with C.S. Lewis. I most certainly did not know that Tolkien comes from “tollkuehn” (it is ue which is written as u with two dots on top in German which you do not have in english but you can also write it as ue). Thanks you so much for all this information 🙂

  5. Are you familiar with the Mythopoeic Society? They’re a collection of scholars, fans, and fantasy lovers who focus on the works of the Inklings–Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and someone named Charles Williams. Google them. Or regret you didn’t.

    If you are easily amused, you might consider reading my exclusive report on Sports in Middle Earth, available on my blog at The link to it is at the top of the page.

    BTW when I was in high school I invented my own language. I called it Veldimiran. I learned about 300 words, but lack of other Veldimirans in my immediate neighborhood made learning the rest of the language difficult.

    1. Thanks for stopping by my blog. No I have not heard of the Mythopoeic Society. I will google them. Sports in the Middle Earth, I will have to check it out. Ha ha maybe you should have taught Veldimiran to some other people. I think I tried to create my own language in primary school, but it didn’t turn out very well.

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