John Ronald Reuel

United Kingdom • 1892−1973

Tolkien was an Oxford professor of the Anglo-Saxon language (1925-1945), English language and literature (1945-1959). A Catholic by religion, along with a close friend, C. C. Lewis, was a member of Inklings, a literary society. March 28, 1972 Tolkien received the title of Commander of the Order of the British Empire from Queen Elizabeth II.

English writer, philologist, Tolkien was born in the capital of the South African Orange Republic in the family of a bank manager. In 1895, the mother transports Tolkien and his younger brother to England. After the death of his father (1896), the family settled in a suburb of Birmingham. The first teacher Tolkien becomes his mother, who taught children in Latin and French, drawing, music. Since childhood, Tolkien’s interest in languages and reading fairy tales has been manifested; he is fascinated by the traditions of the American Indians and the songs of the Elder Edda. At the age of seven, he composes his first dragon tale. In 1900, in connection with the arrival of Tolkien in grammar school, the family moved to Birmingham. At school, Tolkien enthusiastically studies languages: Greek, German, Old English, Old German, Gothic, Icelandic. He likes the history of languages and comparative philology, he tries to invent new languages. In 1904, after the death of the mother, her confessor, Francis Morgan, became the guardian of Tolkien and his brother, at whose expense his wards receive the opportunity to finish school. In 1911, Tolkien entered the faculty of English language and literature at Oxford University. At Oxford, he discovers the Finnish epos for himself, studies the ancient Finnish language in order to read the original Kalevala. Later, on the basis of the Old Norse language, he invents the elven language in which his characters will speak.


When World War I began, Tolkien was a graduate student. Having passed the exams, he enrolls as a volunteer in the army and becomes a junior communications lieutenant of the Lancashire rifle battalion. In the war, he had to survive the death of friends, he participated in the bloody battle of Somme, recovered from trench fever.


At the end of the war, Tolkien was invited to work on compiling the Great Dictionary of English at Oxford, which was a significant recognition of his philological merits. In 1920, he became a teacher, then a professor of English at the University of Leeds.


In 1925, Tolkien and his family returned to Oxford, where he became a professor of the Anglo-Saxon language. Cramped in means, Tolkien in these years is often forced to take on additional work to support his family (he has three sons, later his daughter Priscilla is born). But at night, he composes his magic stories about elves, Middle-earth, the kingdom of Valinor.


The first published work of Tolkien was the story "The Hobbit, or There and Back" ("The Hobbit, or There and Back Again", 1937). The story was such a success that Tolkien was even afraid that the fame of the author of the book for children would damage his reputation as a philologist. Influenced by the persuasion of publishers to write more books about hobbits, Tolkien embarks on the creation of The Lord of the Rings. However, the work on the text was slow and stretched for 17 years. The Lord of the Rings was finally completed in 1954. Due to the high cost of paper, the publication of this voluminous work in one volume was impossible, and the publishers Allen and Anuin, with the consent of the author, divided the text into three volumes, the names of which were given by Anuin Jr. The success of The Lord of the Rings was immense. The book has gained popularity not only in England. Glory becomes burdensome for Tolkien.


Tolkien took refuge in the small resort town of Bournemouth, where he went with his wife Edith Bratt in 1968. After the death of Edith, Tolkien returned to Oxford in 1972. In the same year he became a knight of the Order of the British Empire, II degree. Tolkien died on September 2, 1973. and was buried next to his wife in a cemetery near Oxford. On the tombstones are inscribed the names of the legendary heroes of the fairytale epic of Tolkien - “Beren” and “Lucien”.

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