The Lord of the Rings film trilogy


The poster for the trilogy is a montage that features a range of characters and scenes from all three movies.
Directed by Peter Jackson
Produced by Peter Jackson
Barrie M. Osborne
Fran Walsh
Mark Ordesky
Tim Sanders (The Fellowship of the Ring)
Written by Novel:
J. R. R. Tolkien
Fran Walsh
Philippa Boyens
Peter Jackson
Stephen Sinclair (The Two Towers)
Music by Howard Shore
Studio WingNut Films
The Saul Zaentz Company
Distributed by New Line Cinema (Warner Bros.)
Release date(s) 2001–2003
Running time Theatrical:
558 minutes
Extended Edition:
683 minutes
Language English
Budget US$285 million
Gross revenue US$2,915,155,189

The Lord of the Rings is a film trilogy consisting of three fantasy adventure films based on the three-volume book of the same name by J. R. R. Tolkien. The films are The Fellowship of the Ring (2001), The Two Towers (2002) and The Return of the King (2003).

The films were directed by Peter Jackson and distributed by New Line Cinema. Considered to be one of the biggest and most ambitious movie projects ever undertaken, with an overall budget of $285 million, the entire project took eight years, with the filming for all three films done simultaneously and entirely in Jackson’s native New Zealand. Each film in the trilogy also had Special Extended Editions, released on DVD a year after the theatrical releases. While the films follow the book’s general storyline, they do omit some of the plot elements from the novel and include some additions to and other deviations from the source material.

Set in the fictional world of Middle-earth, the three films follow the hobbit Frodo Baggins (Elijah Wood) as he and a Fellowship embark on a quest to destroy the One Ring, and thus ensure the destruction of its maker, the Dark Lord Sauron. The Fellowship becomes divided and Frodo continues the quest together with his loyal companion Sam (Sean Astin) and the treacherous Gollum (Andy Serkis). Meanwhile, the wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellen) and Aragorn (Viggo Mortensen), heir in exile to the throne of Gondor, unite and rally the Free Peoples of Middle-earth, who are ultimately victorious in the War of the Ring.

The trilogy was a great financial success, with the films collectively being the fifth highest-grossing film series of all-time (behind Harry Potter, James Bond, Star Wars, and Shrek). The films were critically acclaimed and heavily awarded, winning 17 out of 30 Academy Awards nominated in total. The final film in the trilogy, The Return of the King, won all 11 of the Academy Awards for which it was nominated, tying it with Ben-Hur and Titanic for most Academy Awards received for a film. The trilogy received wide praise for the cast and for the innovative practical and digital special effects.[1][2][3]



Director Peter Jackson first came into contact with The Lord of the Rings when he saw Ralph Bakshi‘s 1978 film. Jackson “enjoyed the film and wanted to know more.”[4] Afterwards, he read a tie-in edition of the book[5] during a twelve-hour train journey from Wellington to Auckland when he was seventeen.[6]

In 1995, Jackson was finishing The Frighteners and considered The Lord of the Rings as a new project, wondering “why nobody else seemed to be doing anything about it”.[6] With the new developments in computer-generated imagery following Jurassic Park, Jackson set about planning a fantasy film that would be relatively serious and feel “real”. By October, he and his partner Fran Walsh teamed up with Miramax Films boss Harvey Weinstein to negotiate with Saul Zaentz who had held the rights to the book since the early 1970s, pitching an adaptation of The Hobbit and two films based on The Lord of the Rings. Negotiations then stalled when Universal Studios offered Jackson a remake of King Kong.[7] Weinstein was furious, and further problems arose when it turned out Zaentz did not have distribution rights to The Hobbit; United Artists, which was in the market, did. By April 1996 the rights question was still not resolved.[7] Jackson decided to move ahead with King Kong before filming The Lord of the Rings, prompting Universal to enter a deal with Miramax to receive foreign earnings from The Lord of the Rings while Miramax received foreign earnings from King Kong.[7]. It was also revealed that Jackson originally wanted to finish King Kong before the Lord of the Rings began. But due to location problems he decided to start with The Lord of the Rings franchise instead.

When Universal cancelled King Kong in 1997,[8] Jackson and Walsh immediately received support from Weinstein and began a six-week process of sorting out the rights. Jackson and Walsh asked Costa Botes to write a synopsis of the book and they began to re-read the book. Two to three months later, they had written their treatment.[9] The first film would have dealt with what would become The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, and the beginning of The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, ending with the death of Saruman, and Gandalf and Pippin going to Minas Tirith. In this treatment, Gwaihir and Gandalf visit Edoras after escaping Saruman, Gollum attacks Frodo when the Fellowship is still united, and Farmer Maggot, Glorfindel, Radagast, Elladan and Elrohir are present. Bilbo attends the Council of Elrond, Sam looks into Galadriel‘s mirror, Saruman is redeemed before he dies and the Nazgûl just make it into Mount Doom before they fall.[9] They presented their treatment to Harvey and Bob Weinstein, the latter of whom they focused on impressing with their screenwriting as he had not read the book. They agreed upon two films and a total budget of $75 million.[9]

During mid-1997,[10] Jackson and Walsh began writing with Stephen Sinclair.[9] Sinclair’s partner, Philippa Boyens, was a major fan of the book and joined the writing team after reading their treatment.[10] It took 13–14 months to write the two film scripts,[10] which were 147 and 144 pages respectively. Sinclair left the project due to theatrical obligations. Amongst their revisions, Sam is caught eavesdropping and forced to go along with Frodo, instead of Sam, Merry, and Pippin figuring out about the One Ring themselves and voluntarily going along after confronting Frodo about it, as occurs in the original novel. Gandalf’s account of his time at Orthanc was pulled out of flashback and Lothlórien was cut, with Galadriel doing what she does in the story at Rivendell. Denethor attends the Council with his son. Other changes included having Arwen rescue Frodo, and the action sequence involving the cave troll. Arwen was even going to kill the Witch-king.[9]

Trouble struck when Marty Katz was sent to New Zealand. Spending four months there, he told Miramax that the films were more likely to cost $150 million, and with Miramax unable to finance this, and with $15 million already spent, they decided to merge the two films into one. On 17 June 1998, Bob Weinstein presented a treatment of a single two-hour film version of the book. He suggested cutting Bree and the Battle of Helm’s Deep, “losing or using” Saruman, merging Rohan and Gondor with Éowyn as Boromir‘s sister, shortening Rivendell and Moria as well as having Ents prevent the Uruk-hai kidnapping Merry and Pippin.[9] Upset by the idea of “cutting out half the good stuff”[10] Jackson balked, and Miramax declared that any script or work completed by Weta Workshop was theirs.[9] Jackson went around Hollywood for four weeks,[10] showing a thirty-five minute video of their work, before meeting with Mark Ordesky of New Line Cinema.[11] At New Line Cinema, Robert Shaye viewed the video, and then asked why they were making two films when the book was published as three volumes; he wanted to make a film trilogy. Now Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens had to write three new scripts.[10]

The expansion to three films allowed much more creative freedom, although Jackson, Walsh, and Boyens had to restructure their script accordingly. The three films do not correspond exactly to the three volumes of the trilogy, but rather represent a three-part adaptation. Jackson takes a more chronological approach to the story than did Tolkien. Frodo’s quest is the main focus, and Aragorn is the main sub-plot,[12] and many sequences (such as Tom Bombadil and the Scouring of the Shire) that do not contribute directly to those two plots were left out. Much effort was put into creating satisfactory conclusions and making sure exposition did not bog down the pacing. Amongst new sequences, there are also expansions on elements Tolkien kept ambiguous, such as the battles and the creatures.

Above all, most characters have been altered for extra drama: Aragorn, Théoden, and Treebeard have added or modified elements of self-doubt,[citation needed] while the personalities of Galadriel, Elrond, and Faramir have been darkened.[citation needed] Boromir and Gollum are (arguably) relatively more sympathetic,[citation needed] while some characters such as Legolas, Gimli, Saruman, and Denethor have been simplified.[citation needed] Some characters, such as Arwen and Éomer, have been combined with lesser book characters such as Glorfindel and Erkenbrand,[citation needed] and as a general matter lines of dialogue have sometimes been switched around between locations or characters depending on suitability of the scenes.[citation needed] New scenes were also added to expand on characterisation.[citation needed] During shooting, the screenplays continued to evolve, in part due to contributions from cast looking to further explore their characters.[10] Most notable amongst these rewrites was the character Arwen, who was originally planned as a warrior princess, but reverted back to her book counterpart, who remains physically inactive in the story (though she sends moral and military support).[13]

The most comprehensive study of the making of the films is The Frodo Franchise (2007) by film historian Kristin Thompson.[14]

To develop fight and sword choreography for the trilogy, the filmmakers employed Hollywood sword-master Bob Anderson. Anderson worked directly with the talent including Viggo Mortensen and Karl Urban to develop the many sword fights and stunts within the film.[15] Bob Anderson’s role in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy was highlighted in the film Reclaiming the Blade. This documentary on sword martial arts also featured Weta Workshop and Richard Taylor, Lord of the Rings illustrator John Howe and actors Viggo Mortensen and Karl Urban. All discussed their roles and work on the trilogy as related to the sword.[16]

Production design

Alan Lee at Worldcon 2005 in Glasgow, August 2005.

Jackson began storyboarding the trilogy with Christian Rivers in August 1997 and assigned his crew to begin designing Middle-earth at the same time.[17] Jackson hired long-time collaborator Richard Taylor to lead Weta Workshop on five major design elements: armour, weapons, prosthetics/make-up, creatures, and miniatures. In November 1997,[10] famed Tolkien illustrators Alan Lee and John Howe joined the project. Most of the imagery in the films is based on their various illustrations.[18] Grant Major, production designer was charged with the task of converting Lee and Howe’s designs into architecture, creating models of the sets, while Dan Hennah worked as art director, scouting locations and organising the building of sets.

Jackson’s vision of Middle-earth was described as being “Ray Harryhausen meets David Lean” by Randy Cook.[19] Jackson wanted a gritty realism and historical regard for the fantasy, and attempted to make the world rational and believable. For example, the New Zealand Army helped build Hobbiton months before filming began so the plants could really grow.[20] Creatures were designed to be biologically believable, such as the enormous wings of the fell beast to help it fly.[21] In total, 48,000 pieces of armour, 500 bows, and 10,000 arrows were created by Weta Workshop.[22] They also created many prosthetics, such as 1,800 pairs of Hobbit feet for the lead actors,[10] as well as many ears, noses, and heads for the cast, and around 19,000 costumes were woven and aged.[10] Every prop was specially designed by the Art Department, taking the different scales into account.[10]


Principal photography for all three films was conducted concurrently in many locations within New Zealand’s conservation areas and national parks between 11 October 1999, and 22 December 2000, a period of 438 days. Pick-up shoots were conducted annually from 2001 to 2004. The trilogy was shot at over 150 different locations,[22] with seven different units shooting, as well as soundstages around Wellington and Queenstown. As well as Jackson directing the whole production, other unit directors included John Mahaffie, Geoff Murphy, Fran Walsh, Barrie Osbourne, Rick Porras, and any other assistant director, producer, or writer available. Jackson monitored these units with live satellite feeds, and with the added pressure of constant script re-writes and the multiple units interpreting his envisioned result, he only got around four hours of sleep a night.[13] Due to the remoteness of some of the locations, the crew would also bring survival kits in case helicopters could not reach the location to bring them home in time.[10] The New Zealand Department of Conservation was criticised for approving the filming within national parks without adequate consideration of the adverse environmental effects and without public notification.[23] The adverse effects of filming battle scenes in Tongariro National Park later required restoration work.[24]


The following is a list of cast members who voiced or portrayed characters appearing in the extended version of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

[hide]Character Film
The Fellowship of the Ring[25] The Two Towers[26] The Return of the King[27]

[edit] Fellowship

Aragorn Viggo Mortensen
Frodo Baggins Elijah Wood
Boromir Sean Bean
Meriadoc “Merry” Brandybuck Dominic Monaghan
Samwise Gamgee Sean Astin
Gandalf Ian McKellen
Gimli John Rhys-Davies
Legolas Orlando Bloom
Peregrin “Pippin” Took Billy Boyd

The Shire and Bree

Bilbo Baggins Ian Holm   Ian Holm
Mrs. Bracegirdle Lori Dungey    
Barliman Butterbur David Weatherley    
Rosie Cotton Sarah McLeod   Sarah McLeod
Gaffer Gamgee Norman Forsey    
Elanor Gamgee     Alexandra Astin
Bree Gate Keeper Martyn Sanderson    
Farmer Maggot Cameron Rhodes    
Old Noakes Bill Johnson    
Everard Proudfoot Noel Appleby   Noel Appleby
Mrs. Proudfoot Megan Edwards    
Otho Sackville Peter Corrigan    
Lobelia Sackville-Baggins Elizabeth Moody    
Ted Sandyman Brian Sergent    

Rivendell and Lothlórien

Arwen Liv Tyler
Lord Celeborn Marton Csokas   Marton Csokas
Lord Elrond Hugo Weaving
Lady Galadriel Cate Blanchett
Haldir Craig Parker  
Rúmil Jørn Benzon    

Rohan and Gondor

Damrod     Alistair Browning
Denethor   John Noble
Éomer   Karl Urban
Éothain   Sam Comery  
Éowyn   Miranda Otto
Faramir   David Wenham
Freda   Olivia Tennet  
Gamling   Bruce Hopkins
Grimbold     Bruce Phillips
Háma   John Leigh  
Haleth   Calum Gittins  
Irolas     Ian Hughes
King of the Dead     Paul Norell
Madril   John Bach
Morwen   Robyn Malcolm  
King Théoden   Bernard Hill
Théodred   Paris Howe Strewe  
Treebeard   John Rhys-Davies (voice)

Isengard and Mordor

Sméagol/Gollum Andy Serkis
Gorbag     Stephen Ure
Gothmog     Lawrence Makoare
Gríma Wormtongue   Brad Dourif
Grishnákh   Stephen Ure  
Lurtz Lawrence Makoare    
Mauhur   Robbie Magasiva  
Mouth of Sauron     Bruce Spence
The One Ring Alan Howard (voice)   Alan Howard (voice)
Saruman Christopher Lee
Sauron Sala Baker   Sala Baker
Shagrat     Peter Tait
Sharku   Jed Brophy  
Snaga   Jed Brophy  
Uglúk   Nathaniel Lees  
Witch-king of Angmar Shane Rangi
Brent McIntyre
Andy Serkis (voice)
  Lawrence Makoare
Andy Serkis (voice)

Historical figures

Déagol     Thomas Robins
Elendil Peter McKenzie    
Gil-galad Mark Ferguson    
Isildur Harry Sinclair   Harry Sinclair

Special effects

The first film has around 540 effect shots, the second 799, and the third 1,488 (2,730 in total). The total increases to 3,420 with the extended editions. 260 visual effect artists began work on the trilogy, and the number doubled by The Two Towers. The crew, led by Jim Rygiel and Randy Cook, worked long hours, often overnight, to produce special effects within a short space of time. Jackson’s active imagination was a driving force. For example, several major shots of Helm’s Deep were produced within the last six weeks of post-production of The Two Towers, and the same happened again within the last six weeks on The Return of the King.



Each film had the benefit of a full year of post-production time before its respective December release, often finishing in October–November, with the crew immediately going to work on the next film. In the later part of this period, Jackson would move to London to supervise the scoring and continue editing, while having a computer feed for discussions to The Dorchester Hotel, and a “fat pipe” of Internet connections from Pinewood Studios to look at the special effects. He had a Polycom video link and 5.1 surround sound to organise meetings, and listen to new music and sound effects generally wherever he was. The extended editions also had a tight schedule at the start of each year to complete special effects and music.


To avoid pressure, Jackson hired a different editor for each film. John Gilbert worked on the first film, Mike Horton and Jabez Olssen on the second and longtime Jackson collaborator Jamie Selkirk and Annie Collins on the third. Daily rushes would often last up to four hours, with scenes being done throughout 1999–2002 for the rough (4½ hours) assemblies of the films.[10] In total, six million feet of film (over 1,100 miles)[22] was edited down to the 11 hours and 23 minutes (683 minutes) of Extended DVD running time. This was the final area of shaping of the films, when Jackson realised that sometimes the best scripting could be redundant on screen, as he picked apart scenes every day from multiple takes.

Editing on the first film was relatively easygoing, with Jackson coming up with the concept of an Extended Edition later on, although after a screening to New Line they had to re-edit the beginning for a prologue. The Two Towers was always acknowledged by the crew as the most difficult film to make, as “it had no beginning or end”, and had the additional problem of inter-cutting storylines appropriately. Jackson even continued editing the film when that part of the schedule officially ended, resulting in some scenes, including the reforging of Andúril, Gollum’s back-story, and Saruman’s demise, being moved to The Return of the King. Later, Saruman’s demise was controversially cut from the cinema edition (but included in the extended edition) when Jackson felt it was not starting the third film effectively enough.[28] As with all parts of the third film’s post-production, editing was very chaotic. The first time Jackson actually saw the completed film was at the Wellington premiere.

Deleted scenes

Many filmed scenes remain unused, even in the Extended Editions. Deletions include:

The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Additional footage from the Battle of the Last Alliance during the prologue.
  • An obscure shot from the trailers of two Elven girls playing about in Rivendell.
  • Scene mentioned in the commentary, about an animal disrupting Frodo and Sam while they sleep, after seeing the Wood Elves. Many animals were used, including rabbits and deer.[10]
  • Dialogue from the Council of Elrond, such as Gandalf explaining how Sauron forged the One Ring.[10]
  • An attack by Orcs from Moria on Lothlórien after the Fellowship leaves Moria. Jackson replaced this with a more suspenseful entrance for the Fellowship. Much of the lost footage can be seen as promotional material on The Fellowship of the Ring theatrical DVD and tie-in books, documentary footage on the Extended Editions, and Trading Cards.
  • Longer scene of Boromir trying to take the Ring.[10]
  • Frodo seeing more parts of Middle-earth when he put the Ring on.[10]
  • More battle footage from Parth Galen.[10]
  • An attack on Frodo and Sam at the river Anduin by an Uruk-hai.[10]
The Two Towers
  • More Arwen footage, including a flashback scene of her first meeting with a beardless Aragorn (seen in The Two Towers trailer).
  • Faramir having a vision of Frodo becoming like Gollum.[13]
  • Footage of Arwen at Helm’s Deep, cut by Jackson during a revision to the film’s plot. Foreshadowing this sequence were scenes where Arwen and Elrond visit Galadriel at Lothlórien (seen in The Two Towers trailer). The scene was edited down to a telepathic communication between Elrond and Galadriel.[13]
  • Théoden speaking to the troops in the armoury, prior to the Battle of Helm’s Deep.
  • Éowyn defending the refugees in the Glittering Caves from Uruk-hai intruders.[29]
  • An unknown scene displayed in The Two Towers trailer of Éomer lowering a spear while riding his horse in a forest.
  • Frodo and Sam fighting on the ground in Osgiliath (after Sam tackles Frodo away from the Ringwraith). The scene’s fighting was deleted, but Frodo drawing Sting and pointing it at Sam after he is tackled was left in.[30]
The Return of the King
  • A line of dialogue during the death of Saruman, in which he reveals that Wormtongue poisoned Théodred, giving further context as to why Wormtongue kills Saruman, and Legolas in turn kills Wormtongue.[31]
  • A conversation between Elrond and Arwen in a library in Rivendell, after Arwen decides to wait for Aragorn. Elrond leaves, saying, “You gave away your life’s grace. I cannot protect you anymore.”[32]
  • Sam using the Light of Eärendil to pass the Watchers at Cirith Ungol.
  • Aragorn having his armour fitted during the preparations for the Battle of the Black Gate. This was the final scene filmed during principal photography.[19]
  • Sauron fighting Aragorn at the Black Gate. A computer-generated Troll was placed over Sauron due to Jackson feeling the scene was inappropriate. Sauron is also seen in a beautiful form as Annatar, Giver of Gifts.[19]
  • Also at the Black Gate sequence, Pippin was seen in the trailer holding a wounded Merry.
  • Further epilogue footage, including that of Legolas and Gimli, as well as Éowyn and Faramir’s wedding and Aragorn’s death and funeral.[33]

Peter Jackson has stated that he would like to include some of these unused scenes in a future “Ultimate Edition” home video release (probably high-definition) of the film trilogy. They will not be re-inserted into the movies but available for viewing separately. This edition will also include outtakes.[34]


The theme of The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, composed by Howard Shore.

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Howard Shore composed, orchestrated, conducted, and produced the trilogy’s music. He was hired in August 2000[35] and visited the set, and watched the assembly cuts of films 1 and 3. In the music, Shore included many leitmotifs to represent various characters, cultures, and places. For example, there are leitmotifs for the hobbits as well as the Shire. Although the first film had some of its score recorded in Wellington,[10] virtually all of the trilogy’s score was recorded in Watford Town Hall and mixed at Abbey Road Studios. Jackson planned to advise the score for six weeks each year in London, though for The Two Towers he stayed for twelve. As a Beatles fan, Jackson had a photo tribute done there on the zebra crossing.[13]

The score is primarily played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and many artists such as Ben Del Maestro, Enya, Renée Fleming, James Galway, Annie Lennox and Emilíana Torrini contributed. Even actors Billy Boyd, Viggo Mortensen, Liv Tyler, Miranda Otto (extended cuts only for the latter two), and Peter Jackson (for a single gong sound in the second film) contributed to the score. Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens also wrote the lyrics to various music and songs, which David Salo translated into Tolkien’s languages. The third film’s end song, Into the West, was a tribute to a young filmmaker Jackson and Walsh befriended named Cameron Duncan, who died of cancer in 2003.[19]

Shore composed a main theme for The Fellowship rather than many different character themes, and its strength and weaknesses in volume are depicted at different points in the trilogy. On top of that, individual themes were composed to represent different cultures. Infamously, the amount of music Shore had to write every day for the third film increased dramatically to around seven minutes.[19]


Sound technicians spent the early part of the year trying to find the right sounds. Some, such as animal sounds like tigers’ and walruses’, were bought. Human voices were also used. Fran Walsh contributed to the Nazgûl scream and David Farmer the Warg howls. Other sounds were unexpected: The Fell Beast’s screech is taken from that of a donkey, and the mûmakil’s bellow comes from the beginning and end of a lion’s roar. In addition, ADR was used for most of the dialogue.

The technicians worked with New Zealand locals to get many of the sounds. They re-recorded sounds in abandoned tunnels for an echo-like effect in the Moria sequence. 20,000 New Zealand cricket fans provided the sound of the Uruk-hai army in The Two Towers, with Jackson acting as conductor during the innings break of a one day International cricket match between England and New Zealand at Westpac Stadium.[13] They spent time recording sounds in a graveyard at night, and also had construction workers drop stone blocks for the sounds of boulders firing and landing in The Return of the King. Mixing took place between August and November at “The Film Mix”, before Jackson commissioned the building of a new studio in 2003. The building, however, had not yet been fully completed when they started mixing for The Return of the King.[19]


The online promotional trailer for the trilogy was first released on 27 April 2000, and set a new record for download hits, registering 1.7 million hits in the first 24 hours of its release.[36] The trailer used a selection from the soundtrack for Braveheart, and The Shawshank Redemption among other cuts. In 2001, 24 minutes of footage from the trilogy, primarily the Moria sequence, was shown at the Cannes Film Festival, and was very well received.[37] The showing also included an area designed to look like Middle-earth.[22]

The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was released 19 December 2001. It grossed $47 million in its US opening weekend and made around $871 million worldwide. A preview of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers was inserted just before the end credits near the end of the film’s theatrical run.[38] A promotional trailer was later released, containing music re-scored from the film Requiem for a Dream.[39] The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers was released 18 December 2002. It grossed $62 million in its first US weekend and out-grossed its predecessor, grossing $926 million worldwide. The promotional trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was débuted exclusively before the New Line Cinema film Secondhand Lions on 23 September 2003.[40] Released 17 December 2003, its first US weekend gross was $72 million, and became the second film (after Titanic) to gross over $1 billion worldwide.

Each film was released on standard two-disc edition DVDs containing previews of the next film. The success of the theatrical cuts brought about four-disc Extended Editions, with new editing, added special effects and music.[41] The extended cuts of the films and the included special features were spread over two discs, and a limited collectors edition was also released. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring was released on 12 November 2002, containing 30 minutes more footage, an Alan Lee painting of the Fellowship entering Moria, and the Moria Gate on the back of the sleeve and an Argonath styled bookend with the Collector’s Edition. The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, released on 18 November 2003, contains 44 minutes extra footage, a Lee painting of Gandalf the White’s entrance and the Collector’s Edition contained a Sméagol statue, with a crueler-looking statue of his Gollum persona available for order during a limited time. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King was relased on 14 December 2004, having 52 minutes more footage, a Lee painting of the Grey Havens and a model of Minas Tirith for the Collector’s Edition , with Minas Morgul available for order during a limited time. The Special Extended DVD Editions also had in-sleeve maps of the Fellowship’s travels. They have also played at movie theatres, most notably for a 16 December 2003, marathon screening (dubbed “Trilogy Tuesday”) culminating in a midnight screening of the third film. Both versions were put together in a Limited Edition “branching” version, plus a new feature-length documentary by Costa Botes. The complete trilogy was released in a six Disc set on 14 November 2006.

Warner Bros. released the theatrical versions of the trilogy on Blu-ray Disc in a boxed set on 6 April 2010.[42], with the Extended Editions intended to be released in conjunction with the theatrical release of The Hobbit in 2011.[43] In July 2009, Jackson announced in an interview that the Extended Editions will be released sometime in 2010 on Blu-ray with possibly new special features to be made.[44] An Extended Edition Blu-Ray Box Set was made available for pre-order from Amazon.com in March 2011[45]


Box office

Film Release date Box office revenue Box office ranking Budget Reference
United States Foreign Worldwide All time domestic All time worldwide
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 19 December 2001 $314,776,170 $555,985,574 $870,761,744 #25
#18 $93,000,000 [46]
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 18 December 2002 $341,786,758 $583,495,746 $925,282,504 #15
#11 $94,000,000 [47]
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 17 December 2003 $377,027,325 $742,083,616 $1,119,110,941 #11
#3 $94,000,000 [48]
Total $1,033,590,253 $1,881,564,936 $2,915,155,189     $281,000,000
List indicator(s)

  • (A) indicates the adjusted ranks based on current ticket prices (calculated by Box Office Mojo).

Public and critical response

The Lord of the Rings film trilogy is the highest grossing motion picture trilogy worldwide of all time, higher even than other film franchises such as the original Star Wars trilogy and The Godfather. The film trilogy grossed a total of $2.91 billion. The film trilogy also tied a record with Ben-Hur and Titanic for the total number of Academy Awards won for a single movie; The Return of the King.[49]

The majority of critics have also praised the trilogy, with Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times writing that “the trilogy will not soon, if ever, find its equal”.[50] In particular, performances from Ian McKellen,[51] Sean Astin,[52] Sean Bean, Andy Serkis, and Bernard Hill stood out for many in audience polls, and special effects for the battles and Gollum were praised. A few critics such as Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times did not rank the trilogy so highly, and while praising the special effects, Ebert was critical of the story,[53] and none of the films appeared in his “Top 10” lists for their respective years.[54] Some were also critical of the films’ pacing and length: “It’s a collection of spectacular set pieces without any sense of momentum driving them into one another” according to the Philadelphia Weekly.[55]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the trilogy received a positive 94% average rating from critics – 92%, 96%, and 94% respectively, making it the second highest rated film trilogy of all-time, behind the Toy Story trilogy (in which the first two films earned a perfect 100%, and the third earned 99%), and in front of the original Star Wars trilogy (94%, 97%, and 78% respectively). Metacritic, assigned the following ratings to each movie – 92%, 88% and 94% respectively – based on these results, Metacritic has the trilogy listed as one of two most critically acclaimed trilogy of all time, in that every film is placed in the top 100 of the ‘Metacritic Best-Reviewed Movies’ list – as of 20 July 2010, only one other trilogy has had all movies placed in the top 100 positions of this list, the Toy Story trilogy.

The trilogy appears in many “Top 10” film lists, such as the Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association’s Top 10 Films, Time Magazine’s All-Time 100 Movies, James Berardinelli‘s Top 100,[56] and The Screen Directory’s “Top Ten Films of All Time” (considering the trilogy as “one epic film split into three parts”).[57] In 2007, USA Today named the trilogy as the most important films of the past 25 years.[58] Entertainment Weekly put it on its end-of-the-decade, “best-of” list, saying, “Bringing a cherished book to the big screen? No sweat. Peter Jackson’s trilogy—or, as we like to call it, our preciousssss—exerted its irresistible pull, on advanced Elvish speakers and neophytes alike.”[59]

The Lord of the Rings trilogy has outsold other contemporary trilogies such as the Pirates of the Caribbean films, the Spider-Man film series and the two Star Wars trilogies.[60]

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic Yahoo! Movies
Overall Cream of the Crop
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring 92% (200 reviews)[61] 92% (37 reviews)[62] 92% (34 reviews)[63] A (15 reviews)[64]
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 96% (215 reviews)[65] 100% (38 reviews)[66] 88% (39 reviews)[67] A- (16 reviews)[68]
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 94% (232 reviews)[69] 98% (42 reviews)[70] 94% (42 reviews)[71] A- (15 reviews)[72]

Academy Awards

The three films together were nominated for a total of 30 Academy Awards, of which they won 17, a record for any movie trilogy. The Return of the King won in every category in which it was nominated, an extremely rare feat; its Oscar for Best Picture was widely perceived as an award by proxy for the entire trilogy. The Return of the King also tied a record for the total number of Academy Awards won, 11, with Ben-Hur and Titanic (though both of those films had additional nominations that they lost out on). No actors in any of the three films won Oscars, although Ian McKellen was nominated for his work in The Fellowship of the Ring.

  • The Fellowship of the Ring — Nominations: 13, Wins: 4
  • The Two Towers — Nominations: 6, Wins: 2
  • The Return of the King — Nominations: 11, Wins: 11
Award Awards Won
The Fellowship of the Ring The Two Towers The Return of the King
Art Direction Nomination Nomination Win
Cinematography Win    
Costume Design Nomination   Win
Directing Nomination   Win
Film Editing Nomination Nomination Win
Makeup Win   Win
Music (Original Score) Win   Win
Music (Original Song) Nomination
(“May It Be”)
(“Into the West”)
Best Picture Nomination Nomination Win
Sound Editing   Win  
Sound Mixing Nomination Nomination Win
Supporting Actor Nomination
(Ian McKellen)
Visual Effects Win Win Win
Writing (Previously Produced or Published) Nomination   Win

As well as Academy Awards, each film of the trilogy won MTV Movie Awards‘ Best Film, and the Hugo Awards for Best Dramatic Presentation categories. The first and third films also won the Best Film BAFTAs. The soundtrack for The Two Towers did not receive a nomination because of a rule prohibiting a soundtrack including music from a previous soundtrack to be eligible for nomination. This rule was overturned in time for The Return of the King to receive the Oscar for Best Music Score. The New York Film Critics Circle awarded The Return of the King its Best Picture Award at the 2003 Awards Ceremony, hosted by Andrew Johnston, Chair of the organization at that time, who called it “a masterful piece of filmmaking.”[73]

Reactions to changes in the films from the book

While the films were very well received, some readers of the books have decried certain changes[74][75] made in the film adaptations. Various changes to characters such as Gandalf, Aragorn, Arwen, Denethor, Faramir, Gimli, and even the main protagonist Frodo,[76] and changes made to events (such as the Elves participating at the Battle of Helm’s Deep and Faramir taking the hobbits to Osgiliath),[77] when considered together, are seen to alter the tone and themes from those found in the book.

Many have also decried the wholesale deletion of the penultimate chapter of the novel, “The Scouring of the Shire“,[78] a part Tolkien felt thematically necessary.

Wayne G. Hammond, a noted Tolkien scholar, has said of the first two films:

I find both of the Jackson films to be travesties as adaptations… faithful only on a basic level of plot… Cut and compress as necessary, yes, but don’t change or add new material without very good reason… In the moments in which the films succeed, they do so by staying close to what Tolkien so carefully wrote; where they fail, it tends to be where they diverge from him, most seriously in the area of characterization. Most of the characters in the films are mere shadows of those in the book, weak and diminished (notably Frodo) or insulting caricatures (Pippin, Merry, and Gimli)… [T]he filmmakers sacrifice the richness of Tolkien’s story and characters, not to mention common sense, for violence, cheap humor, and cheaper thrills… [S]o many of its reviewers have praised it as faithful to the book, or even superior to it, all of which adds insult to injury and is demonstrably wrong…[74][79]

Some fans of the book who disagreed with such changes have released fan edits of the films, which removed many of the changes to bring them closer to the original. A combined 8-hour version of the trilogy exists, called The Lord of the Rings: The Purist Edition.[80][81]

Supporters of the trilogy assert that it is a worthy interpretation of the book and that most of the changes were necessary.[18] Many who worked on the trilogy are fans of the book, including Christopher Lee, who (alone among the cast) had actually met Tolkien in person,[82] and Boyens once noted that no matter what, it is simply their interpretation of the book. Jackson once said that to simply summarise the story on screen would be a mess, and in his own words, “Sure, it’s not really The Lord of the Rings … but it could still be a pretty damn cool movie.”[83][84] Other fans also claim that, despite any changes, the films serve as a tribute to the book, appealing to those who have not yet read it, and even leading some to do so. The Movie Guide for The Encyclopedia of Arda (an online Tolkien encyclopaedia) states:

It seems appropriate to end with a word of acknowledgement of Peter Jackson and everyone else associated with the movie version of The Lord of the Rings. Though of course they haven’t come close to the scope and intricacy of the original story—that would be quite impossible—what they have produced is still nothing less than a masterpiece. The film-makers, and of course Peter Jackson in particular, have to be admired merely for having the courage to take on such an immense challenge, let alone to produce such an exceptional result. The complete story of The Lord of the Rings is probably unfilmable, but Peter Jackson has come closer than anyone could have imagined possible.[85]

In 2005, the Mythopoeic Society published a volume of critical essays about the trilogy and its effects on popular culture called Tolkien on Film: Essays on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings.[86] The book has been praised as balanced and its authors as “truly critical” since they seek to “discern how the films both succeed and fail, and why their massive popularity is both to be praised and lamented.”[86] Among other topics, the essays include evaluations of the films’ treatment of women as compared to Tolkien’s themes, criticism of arguments used to defend the films, and assessments of the films’ treatment of heroes and heroism compared to the novel and its sources.[87] Cathy Akers-Jordan,[88] Jane Chance,[89] Victoria Gaydosik,[90] and Maureen Thum[91] contend that the portrayal of women, especially Arwen, in the films is overall thematically faithful to (or compatible with) Tolkien’s writings despite some differences. David Bratman[92] criticises several arguments defending the films as adaptations, such as “It’s Jackson’s vision, not Tolkien’s“, “But they worked so hard on it!“, “It brings new readers to the book“, “The perfect film would have been 40 hours long“, and “The book is still on the shelf“. He also writes that “Peter Jackson has a nine-year-old’s understanding of Tolkien”[93] and gives the films “an A on visuals and props, a B … as independent pieces of work divorced from the book, a C on faithfulness to Tolkien’s story and detail, and a D … on faithfulness to Tolkien’s spirit and tone.”[93] Dan Timmons[94] writes that the themes and internal logic of the films are undermined by the portrayal of Frodo, whom he considers a weakening of Tolkien’s original. Kayla McKinney Wiggins[95] opines that the films misread and misinterpret the nature of heroes as understood in Tolkien’s writings and in his source material due to a shift in focus from character evolution to action adventure. Janet Brennan Croft[96] criticises the films using Tolkien’s own terms “anticipation” and “flattening”, which he used in critiquing a proposed film script. She contrasts Tolkien’s subtlety with Jackson’s tendency to show “too much too soon”.[96]


The release of the films saw a surge of interest in The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien’s other works, vastly increasing his impact on popular culture.[97] It was rumoured that the Tolkien family became split on the trilogy, with Christopher Tolkien and Simon Tolkien feuding over whether or not it was a good idea to adapt.[98] Christopher Tolkien has since denied these claims saying, “My own position is that The Lord of the Rings is peculiarly unsuitable to transformation into visual dramatic form. The suggestions that have been made that I ‘disapprove’ of the films, even to the extent of thinking ill of those with whom I may differ, are wholly without foundation.” He added that he had never “expressed any such feeling”.[99] A musical adaptation of the book was launched in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, in 2006, but it closed after mostly poor reviews. A shortened version opened in London, UK, in the summer of 2007. The success of the films has also spawned the production of video games and many other kinds of merchandise.

As a result of the success of the trilogy, Peter Jackson has become a player in the movie business (sometimes called a mogul) in the mould of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, in the process befriending some industry heavyweights like Bryan Singer, Frank Darabont and James Cameron. Jackson has since founded his own film production company, Wingnut Films, as well as Wingnut Interactive, a video-game company. He was also finally given a chance to remake King Kong in 2005. The film became a critical and box office success, although not as successful as The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Jackson has been called a “favourite son” of New Zealand.[100] In 2004, Howard Shore toured with The Lord of the Rings Symphony, consisting of two hours of the score. Along with the Harry Potter films, the trilogy has renewed interest in the fantasy film genre. Tourism for New Zealand is up, possibly due to its exposure in the trilogy,[101] with the tourism industry in the country waking up to an audience’s familiarity.[102]

In December 2002, The Lord of the Rings Motion Picture Trilogy: The Exhibition opened at the Te Papa museum in Wellington, New Zealand. As of 2007, the exhibition has travelled to seven other cities around the world.

The legacy of The Lord of the Rings is also that of court cases over profits from the trilogy. Sixteen cast members (Noel Appleby, Jed Brophy, Mark Ferguson, Ray Henwood, Bruce Hopkins, William Johnson, Nathaniel Lees, Sarah McLeod, Ian Mune, Paul Norell, Craig Parker, Robert Pollock, Martyn Sanderson, Peter Tait and Stephan Ure) sued over the lack of revenue from merchandise bearing their appearance. The case was resolved out of court in 2008. The settlement came too late for Appleby, who died of cancer in 2007.[103] Saul Zaentz also filed a lawsuit in 2004 claiming he had not been paid all of his royalties. The next year, Jackson himself sued the studio over profits from the first film, slowing development of the prequels until late 2007.[104] The Tolkien Trust filed a lawsuit in February 2008, for violating Tolkien’s original deal over the rights that they would earn 7.5% of the gross from any films based on his works. The Trust sought compensation of $150 million.[105] A judge denied them this option, but allowed them to win compensation from the act of the studio ignoring the contract itself.[106] On 8 September 2009, a settlement of this dispute between the Trust and New Line was announced (clearing a potential obstacle to the making of a new movie based on The Hobbit).[107]

See also

Book: The Lord of the Rings film trilogyWikipedia Books are collections of articles that can be downloaded or ordered in print.


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  100. ^ “NZer of the year: Peter Jackson”. The New Zealand Herald. 29 December 2001. http://www.nzherald.co.nz/feature/story.cfm?c_id=594&ObjectID=584301
  101. ^ “Movie Tourism in New Zealand”. Archived from the original on 20 November 2005. http://web.archive.org/web/20051120164817/http://theculturedtraveler.com/Archives/AUG2005/Movies_New_Zeland.htm
  102. ^ “New Zealand, Home of Middle-earth”. The New Zealand Herald. http://www.newzealand.com/travel/about-nz/culture/lotr/nz-home-of-middle-earth-feature.cfm
  103. ^ Bruce Hopkins (8 October 2008). “New Zealand actors settle out of court with New Line”. TheOneRing.net. http://www.theonering.net/torwp/2008/10/08/30205-new-zealand-actors-settle-out-of-court-with-new-line-cinema/. Retrieved 9 October 2008. 
  104. ^ Benjamin Svetkey (4 October 2007). “‘The Hobbit’: Peace in Middle-Earth?”. Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,20036782_20037403_20142132,00.html. Retrieved 5 October 2007. 
  105. ^ Alex Viega (12 February 2008). “Tolkien Estate Sues New Line Cinema”. San Francisco Chronicle. Associated Press. Archived from the original on 17 April 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080417072953/http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2008/02/11/financial/f115544S35.DTL&tsp=1. Retrieved 3 May 2008. 
  106. ^ “No punitive damages in Rings case”. BBC News Online. 26 September 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7637693.stm. Retrieved 27 September 2008. 
  107. ^ Alex Dobuzinskis (8 September 2009). “Legal settlement clears way for “Hobbit” movie”. Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/entertainmentNews/idUSTRE5875BK20090908. Retrieved 8 September 2009. “The Hollywood studio behind a film based on ‘The Hobbit’ and trustees for author J.R.R. Tolkien’s estate said on Tuesday they had settled a lawsuit that clears the way for what is expected to be a blockbuster movie based on the book.” 

External links

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J. R. R. Tolkien


Tolkien, 1916
Born John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
3 January 1892(1892-01-03)
Bloemfontein, Orange Free State
Died 2 September 1973(1973-09-02) (aged 81)
Bournemouth, England
Occupation Author, Academic, Philologist, Poet
Nationality English
Genres Fantasy, high fantasy, translation, criticism
Notable work(s) The Hobbit
The Lord of the Rings
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
The Silmarillion
The Children of Húrin
Spouse(s) Edith Bratt (1916–1971) (her death)

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE (3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973)[1] was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.

Tolkien was Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University from 1925 to 1945 and Merton Professor of English Language and Literature there from 1945 to 1959.[2] He was a close friend of C. S. Lewis—they were both members of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings. Tolkien was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 March 1972.

After his death, Tolkien’s son Christopher published a series of works based on his father’s extensive notes and unpublished manuscripts, including The Silmarillion. These, together with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, form a connected body of tales, poems, fictional histories, invented languages, and literary essays about an imagined world called Arda, and Middle-earth[3] within it. Between 1951 and 1955, Tolkien applied the term legendarium to the larger part of these writings.[4]

While many other authors had published works of fantasy before Tolkien,[5] the great success of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings led directly to a popular resurgence of the genre. This has caused Tolkien to be popularly identified as the “father” of modern fantasy literature[6][7]—or, more precisely, of high fantasy.[8] In 2008, The Times ranked him sixth on a list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”.[9] Forbes ranked him the 5th top-earning dead celebrity in 2009.[10]



Tolkien family origins

Most of Tolkien’s paternal ancestors were craftsmen. The Tolkien family had its roots in Lower Saxony, but had been living in England since the 18th century, becoming “quickly intensely English”.[11] The surname Tolkien is said to come from the German word tollkühn[12] (“foolhardy”). German writers have suggested that in reality the name is more likely to derive from the village Tolkynen, near Rastenburg, East Prussia. The name of that place is derived from the now extinct Old Prussian language.[13][14]

Tolkien’s maternal grandparents, John and Edith Jane Suffield, were Baptists who lived in Birmingham and owned a shop in the city centre. The Suffield family had run various businesses out of the same building, called Lamb House, since the early 19th century. From 1810 Tolkien’s great-great-grandfather William Suffield had a book and stationery shop there; from 1826 Tolkien’s great-grandfather, also named John Suffield, had a drapery and hosiery business there.[15]


1892 Christmas card with a coloured photo of the Tolkien family in Bloemfontein, sent to relatives in Birmingham, England

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on 3 January 1892 in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State (now Free State Province, part of South Africa) to Arthur Reuel Tolkien (1857–1896), an English bank manager, and his wife Mabel, née Suffield (1870–1904). The couple had left England when Arthur was promoted to head the Bloemfontein office of the British bank for which he worked. Tolkien had one sibling, his younger brother, Hilary Arthur Reuel, who was born on 17 February 1894.[16]

As a child, Tolkien was bitten by a large baboon spider in the garden, an event which some think would have later echoes in his stories, although Tolkien admitted no actual memory of the event and no special hatred of spiders as an adult. In another incident, a family house-boy, who thought Tolkien a beautiful child, took the baby to his kraal to show him off, returning him the next morning.[17]

When he was three, Tolkien went to England with his mother and brother on what was intended to be a lengthy family visit. His father, however, died in South Africa of rheumatic fever before he could join them.[18] This left the family without an income, and so Tolkien’s mother took him to live with her parents in Kings Heath,[19] Birmingham. Soon after, in 1896, they moved to Sarehole (now in Hall Green), then a Worcestershire village, later annexed to Birmingham.[20] He enjoyed exploring Sarehole Mill and Moseley Bog and the Clent, Lickey and Malvern Hills, which would later inspire scenes in his books, along with Worcestershire towns and villages such as Bromsgrove, Alcester, and Alvechurch and places such as his aunt Jane’s farm of Bag End, the name of which would be used in his fiction.[21]

Mabel Tolkien herself taught her two sons, and Ronald, as he was known in the family, was a keen pupil.[22] She taught him a great deal of botany and awakened in him the enjoyment of the look and feel of plants. Young Tolkien liked to draw landscapes and trees, but his favourite lessons were those concerning languages, and his mother taught him the rudiments of Latin very early.[23] He could read by the age of four and could write fluently soon afterwards. His mother allowed him to read many books. He disliked Treasure Island and The Pied Piper and thought Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll was “amusing but disturbing”. He liked stories about “Red Indians” and the fantasy works by George MacDonald.[24] In addition, the “Fairy Books” of Andrew Lang were particularly important to him and their influence is apparent in some of his later writings.[25]

Birmingham Oratory, where Tolkien was a parisioner and altar boy, (1902-1911)

King Edward’s School in Birmingham, where Tolkien was a student (1900-1902, 1903-1911)[26]

Tolkien attended King Edward’s School, Birmingham, and later St. Philip’s School, before winning a Foundation Scholarship and returning to King Edward’s School. While a pupil at King Edward’s School, he was one of a party of cadets from the school’s Officers Training Corps who helped “line the route” for the coronation parade of King George V, being posted just outside the gates of Buckingham Palace.[27]

Mabel Tolkien was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1900 despite vehement protests by her Baptist family,[28] who then stopped all financial assistance to her. In 1904, when Tolkien was 12, she died of acute diabetes at Fern Cottage in Rednal, which she was then renting. Mabel Tolkien was then about 34 years of age, about as old as a person with diabetes mellitus type 1 could live with no treatment—insulin would not be discovered until two decades later. Nine years after his mother’s death, Tolkien wrote, “My own dear mother was a martyr indeed, and it is not to everybody that God grants so easy a way to his great gifts as he did to Hilary and myself, giving us a mother who killed herself with labour and trouble to ensure us keeping the faith.”[29]

Prior to her death, Mabel Tolkien had assigned the guardianship of her sons to Fr. Francis Xavier Morgan of the Birmingham Oratory, who was assigned to bring them up as good Catholics. Tolkien grew up in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham. He lived there in the shadow of Perrott’s Folly and the Victorian tower of Edgbaston Waterworks, which may have influenced the images of the dark towers within his works.[30][31] Another strong influence was the romantic medievalist paintings of Edward Burne-Jones and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood;[32] the Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery has a large and world-renowned collection of works and had put it on free public display from around 1908.


Tolkien in 1911

In 1911, while they were at King Edward’s School, Birmingham, Tolkien and three friends, Rob Gilson, Geoffrey Smith, and Christopher Wiseman, formed a semi-secret society which they called “the T.C.B.S.”, the initials standing for “Tea Club and Barrovian Society”, alluding to their fondness for drinking tea in Barrow’s Stores near the school and, secretly, in the school library.[33] After leaving school, the members stayed in touch, and in December 1914 they held a “Council” in London, at Wiseman’s home. For Tolkien, the result of this meeting was a strong dedication to writing poetry.

In the summer of 1911, Tolkien went on holiday in Switzerland, a trip that he recollects vividly in a 1968 letter,[27] noting that Bilbo‘s journey across the Misty Mountains (“including the glissade down the slithering stones into the pine woods”) is directly based on his adventures as their party of 12 hiked from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen and on to camp in the moraines beyond Mürren. Fifty-seven years later, Tolkien remembered his regret at leaving the view of the eternal snows of Jungfrau and Silberhorn (“the Silvertine (Celebdil) of my dreams”). They went across the Kleine Scheidegg to Grindelwald and on across the Grosse Scheidegg to Meiringen. They continued across the Grimsel Pass, through the upper Valais to Brig and on to the Aletsch glacier and Zermatt.[34]

In October of the same year, Tolkien began studying at Exeter College, Oxford. He initially studied Classics but changed his course in 1913 to English Language and Literature, graduating in 1915 with first-class honours in his final examinations.[35]

Courtship and marriage

Edith Bratt at age 16

At the age of 16, Tolkien met Edith Mary Bratt, who was three years older, when he and his brother Hilary moved into the boarding house in which she lived. According to Humphrey Carpenter:

Edith and Ronald took to frequenting Birmingham teashops, especially one which had a balcony overlooking the pavement. There they would sit and throw sugarlumps into the hats of passers-by, moving to the next table when the sugar bowl was empty. … With two people of their personalities and in their position, romance was bound to flourish. Both were orphans in need of affection, and they found that they could give it to each other. During the summer of 1909, they decided that they were in love.[36]

His guardian, Father Francis Morgan, viewing Edith as a distraction from Tolkien’s school work and horrified that his young charge was seriously involved with a Protestant girl, prohibited him from meeting, talking to, or even corresponding with her until he was 21. He obeyed this prohibition to the letter,[37] with one notable early exception which made Father Morgan threaten to cut short his University career if he did not stop.[38]

On the evening of his twenty-first birthday, Tolkien wrote to Edith a declaration of his love and asked her to marry him. Edith replied saying that she had already agreed to marry another man, but that she had done so because she had believed Tolkien had forgotten her. The two met up and beneath a railway viaduct renewed their love; Edith returned her engagement ring and announced that she was marrying Tolkien instead.[39] Following their engagement Edith reluctantly announced that she was converting to Catholicism at Tolkien’s insistence. Her landlord, a staunch Protestant, was infuriated and evicted her as soon as she was able to find other lodgings.[40] Edith and Ronald were formally engaged in Birmingham, in January 1913, and married at Warwick, England, at Saint Mary Immaculate Catholic Church on 22 March 1916.[41]

World War I

In 1914, the United Kingdom entered World War I amidst an atmosphere of ultra-nationalism. As a result, Tolkien’s relatives were shocked when he elected not to immediately volunteer for the British Army. Instead, Tolkien entered a program wherein he delayed enlisting until completing his degree in July 1915. He was then commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers.[42] He trained with the 13th (Reserve) Battalion on Cannock Chase, Staffordshire, for eleven months. In a letter to Edith, Tolkien complained, “Gentlemen are rare among the superiors, and even human beings rare indeed.”[43] Tolkien was then transferred to the 11th (Service) Battalion with the British Expeditionary Force, arriving in France on 4 June 1916. His departure from England on a troop transport inspired him to write his poem, The Lonely Isle.[44] He later wrote, “Junior officers were being killed off, a dozen a minute. Parting from my wife then … it was like a death.”[45]

Tolkien served as a signals officer at the Somme, participating in the Battle of Thiepval Ridge and the subsequent assault on the Schwaben Redoubt. According to John Garth, however:

Although Kitchener‘s army enshrined old social boundaries, it also chipped away at the class divide by throwing men from all walks of life into a desperate situation together. Tolkien wrote that the experience taught him, ‘a deep sympathy and feeling for the Tommy; especially the plain soldier from the agricultural counties.’ He remained profoundly grateful for the lesson. For a long time, he had been imprisoned in a tower, not of pearl, but of ivory.[46]

Tolkien’s time in combat was a terrible stress for Edith, who feared that every knock on the door might carry news of her husband’s death. In order to get around the British Army‘s postal censorship, the Tolkiens had developed a secret code which accompanied his letters home. By using the code, Edith was able to track her husband’s movements on a map of the Western Front.

On 27 October 1916 Tolkien came down with trench fever, a disease carried by the lice which were common in the dugouts. According to the memoirs of the Reverend Mervyn S. Evers, Anglican chaplain to the Lancashire Fusiliers:

On one occasion I spent the night with the Brigade Machine Gun Officer and the Signals Officer in one of the captured German dugouts … We dossed down for the night in the hopes of getting some sleep, but it was not to be. We no sooner lay down than hordes of lice got up. So we went round to the Medical Officer, who was also in the dugout with his equipment, and he gave us some ointment which he assured us would keep the little brutes away. We anointed ourselves all over with the stuff and again lay down in great hopes, but it was not to be, because instead of discouraging them it seemed to act like a kind of hors d’oeuvre and the little beggars went at their feast with renewed vigour.[47]

Tolkien was invalided to England on 8 November 1916.[48] Many of his dearest school friends, including Gilson and Smith of the T.C.B.S., were killed in the war. In later years, Tolkien indignantly declared that those who searched his works for parallels to the Second World War were entirely mistaken:

One has indeed personally to come under the shadow of war to feel fully its oppression; but as the years go by it seems now often forgotten that to be caught in youth by 1914 was no less hideous an experience than to be involved in 1939 and the following years. By 1918 all but one of my close friends were dead.[49]


A weak and emaciated Tolkien spent the remainder of the war alternating between hospitals and garrison duties, being deemed medically unfit for general service.[50][51]

During his recovery in a cottage in Great Haywood, Staffordshire, he began to work on what he called The Book of Lost Tales, beginning with The Fall of Gondolin. Throughout 1917 and 1918 his illness kept recurring, but he had recovered enough to do home service at various camps and was promoted to Lieutenant. It was at this time that Edith bore their first child, John Francis Reuel Tolkien.

When he was stationed at Kingston upon Hull, he and Edith went walking in the woods at nearby Roos, and Edith began to dance for him in a clearing among the flowering hemlock. After his wife’s death in 1971, Tolkien remembered,

I never called Edith Luthien – but she was the source of the story that in time became the chief part of the Silmarillion. It was first conceived in a small woodland glade filled with hemlocks[52] at Roos in Yorkshire (where I was for a brief time in command of an outpost of the Humber Garrison in 1917, and she was able to live with me for a while). In those days her hair was raven, her skin clear, her eyes brighter than you have seen them, and she could sing – and dance. But the story has gone crooked, & I am left, and I cannot plead before the inexorable Mandos.[53]

This incident inspired the account of the meeting of Beren and Lúthien, and Tolkien often referred to Edith as “my Lúthien”.[54]

Academic and writing career

20 Northmoor Road, the former home of J. R. R. Tolkien in North Oxford

Tolkien’s first civilian job after World War I was at the Oxford English Dictionary, where he worked mainly on the history and etymology of words of Germanic origin beginning with the letter W.[55] In 1920, he took up a post as Reader in English Language at the University of Leeds, and became the youngest professor there.[56] While at Leeds, he produced A Middle English Vocabulary and a definitive edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight with E. V. Gordon, both becoming academic standard works for many decades. He also translated Sir Gawain, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo. In 1925, he returned to Oxford as Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, with a fellowship at Pembroke College.

During his time at Pembroke, Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings, whilst living at 20 Northmoor Road in North Oxford (where a blue plaque was placed in 2002). He also published a philological essay in 1932 on the name “Nodens“, following Sir Mortimer Wheeler‘s unearthing of a Roman Asclepieion at Lydney Park, Gloucestershire, in 1928.[57]


Tolkien’s 1936 lecture, “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics,” had a lasting influence on Beowulf research.[58] Lewis E. Nicholson said that the article Tolkien wrote about Beowulf is “widely recognized as a turning point in Beowulfian criticism”, noting that Tolkien established the primacy of the poetic nature of the work as opposed to its purely linguistic elements.[59] At the time, the consensus of scholarship deprecated Beowulf for dealing with childish battles with monsters rather than realistic tribal warfare; Tolkien argued that the author of Beowulf was addressing human destiny in general, not as limited by particular tribal politics, and therefore the monsters were essential to the poem.[60] Where Beowulf does deal with specific tribal struggles, as at Finnsburg, Tolkien argued firmly against reading in fantastic elements.[61] In the essay, Tolkien also revealed how highly he regarded Beowulf: “Beowulf is among my most valued sources,” and this influence may be seen throughout his Middle-earth legendarium.[62]

According to Humphrey Carpenter, Tolkien had an ingenious means of beginning his series of lectures on Beowulf:

He would come silently into the room, fix the audience with his gaze, and suddenly begin to declaim in a resounding voice the opening lines of the poem in the original Anglo-Saxon, commencing with a great cry of Hwæt! (The first word of this and several other Old English poems), which some undergraduates took to be ‘Quiet!’ It was not so much a recitation as a dramatic performance, an impersonation of an Anglo-Saxon bard in a mead hall, and it impressed generations of students because it brought home to them that Beowulf was not just a set text to be read for the purposes of examination, but a powerful piece of dramatic poetry.[63]

Decades later, W.H. Auden wrote his former professor,

“I don’t think that I have ever told you what an unforgettable experience it was for me as an undergraduate, hearing you recite Beowulf. The voice was the voice of Gandalf.”[63]

In 2003, Tolkien’s handwritten translation of and commentary on Beowulf, running to roughly 2000 pages, was discovered in the archives of the Bodleian Library.[64]

World War II

Merton College, where Tolkien was Professor of English Language and Literature (1945-1959)

In the run-up to World War II, Tolkien was earmarked as a codebreaker.[65][66] In January 1939, he was asked whether he would be prepared to serve in the cryptographical department of the Foreign Office in the event of national emergency.[65][66] He replied in the affirmative and, beginning on 27 March, took an instructional course at the London HQ of the Government Code and Cypher School.[65][66] However, although he was “keen”[67] to become a codebreaker, he was informed in October that his services would not be required at that time.[65][66] Ultimately he never served as one.[65][66] In 2009, The Daily Telegraph claimed Tolkien turned down a £500-a-year offer to become a full-time recruit for unknown reasons.[67]

In 1945, Tolkien moved to Merton College, Oxford, becoming the Merton Professor of English Language and Literature,[56] in which post he remained until his retirement in 1959. He served as an external examiner for University College, Dublin, for many years. In 1954 Tolkien received an honorary degree from the National University of Ireland (of which U.C.D. was a constituent college). Tolkien completed The Lord of the Rings in 1948, close to a decade after the first sketches.

Tolkien also translated the Book of Jonah for the Jerusalem Bible, which was published in 1966.[68]


The Tolkiens had four children: John Francis Reuel Tolkien (17 November 1917 – 22 January 2003), Michael Hilary Reuel Tolkien (22 October 1920 – 27 February 1984), Christopher John Reuel Tolkien (born 21 November 1924) and Priscilla Mary Anne Reuel Tolkien (born 18 June 1929). Tolkien was very devoted to his children and sent them illustrated letters from Father Christmas when they were young. Each year more characters were added, such as the Polar Bear (Father Christmas’s helper), the Snow Man (his gardener), Ilbereth the elf (his secretary), and various other, minor characters. The major characters would relate tales of Father Christmas’s battles against goblins who rode on bats and the various pranks committed by the Polar Bear.[69]

Retirement and old age

During his life in retirement, from 1959 up to his death in 1973, Tolkien received steadily increasing public attention and literary fame. The sales of his books were so profitable that he regretted that he had not chosen early retirement.[23] At first, he wrote enthusiastic answers to readers’ enquiries, but he became more and more bothered by the emerging Tolkien fandom, which was in part due to the popularity of his books with the hippie movement in the United States.[70] In a 1972 letter, he deplored having become a cult-figure, but admitted that “even the nose of a very modest idol […] cannot remain entirely untickled by the sweet smell of incense!”[71]

Fan attention became so intense that Tolkien had to take his phone number out of the public directory,[72] and eventually he and Edith moved to Bournemouth, which was then a seaside resort patronized by the British upper class. Tolkien’s status as a bestselling author gave them easy entry into polite society, but Tolkien deeply missed the company of his fellow intellectuals. Edith, however, was overjoyed to step into the role of a society hostess, which was the reason that Tolkien selected Bournemouth in the first place.

According to Humphrey Carpenter,

Those friends who knew Ronald and Edith Tolkien over the years never doubted that there was deep affection between them. It was visible in the small things, the almost absurd degree in which each worried about the other’s health, and the care in which they chose and wrapped each other’s birthday presents’; and in the large matters, the way in which Ronald willingly abandoned such a large part of his life in retirement to give Edith the last years in Bournemouth that he felt she deserved, and the degree in which she showed pride in his fame as an author. A principal source of happiness to them was their shared love of their family. This bound them together until the end of their lives, and it was perhaps the strongest force in the marriage. They delighted to discuss and mull over every detail of the lives of their children, and later their grandchildren.[73]

Tolkien was appointed by Queen Elizabeth II a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honours List of 1 January 1972[74] and received the insignia of the Order at Buckingham Palace on 28 March 1972.[75] In the same year Oxford University conferred upon him an honorary Doctorate of Letters.[35][76]


The grave of J. R. R. and Edith Tolkien, Wolvercote Cemetery, Oxford

Tolkien’s wife, Edith, died on 29 November 1971, at the age of 82.[77] Tolkien had the name Lúthien engraved on the stone at Wolvercote Cemetery, Oxford. When Tolkien died 21 months later on 2 September 1973, at the age of 81, he was buried in the same grave, with Beren added to his name. The engravings read:

Edith Mary Tolkien
John Ronald
Reuel Tolkien


The Corner of the Eagle and Child Pub, Oxford, where the Inklings met (1930-1950).

Tolkien was a devout Roman Catholic, and in his religious and political views he was mostly conservative, in the sense of favouring established conventions and orthodoxies over innovation and modernization; in 1943 he wrote, “My political opinions lean more and more to Anarchy (philosophically understood, meaning abolition of control not whiskered men with bombs)—or to ‘unconstitutional’ Monarchy.”[78]

Tolkien had an intense dislike for the side effects of industrialization, which he considered to be devouring the English countryside. For most of his adult life, he was disdainful of cars, preferring to ride a bicycle.[79] This attitude can be seen in his work, most famously in the portrayal of the forced “industrialization” of the Shire in The Lord of the Rings.[80]

Many commentators[81] have remarked on a number of potential parallels between the Middle-earth saga and events in Tolkien’s lifetime. The Lord of the Rings is often thought to represent England during and immediately after World War II. Tolkien ardently rejected this opinion in the foreword to the second edition of the novel, stating he preferred applicability to allegory.[81] This theme is taken up at greater length in his essay “On Fairy-Stories“, where he argues that fairy-stories are so apt because they are consistent both within themselves and with some truths about reality. He concludes that Christianity itself follows this pattern of inner consistency and external truth. His belief in the fundamental truths of Christianity leads commentators to find Christian themes in The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien objected strongly to C. S. Lewis’s use of religious references in his stories, which were often overtly allegorical.[82] However, Tolkien wrote that the Mount Doom scene exemplified lines from the Lord’s Prayer.[83]

His love of myths and his devout faith came together in his assertion that he believed mythology to be the divine echo of “the Truth”.[84] This view was expressed in his poem and essay entitled Mythopoeia.[85] His theory that myths held “fundamental truths” became a central theme of the Inklings in general.


Tolkien’s devout Catholic faith was a significant factor in the conversion of C. S. Lewis from atheism to Christianity, although Tolkien was dismayed that Lewis chose to join the Church of England.[86]

In the last years of his life, Tolkien became greatly disappointed by the reforms and changes implemented after the Second Vatican Council,[87] as his grandson Simon Tolkien recalls:

I vividly remember going to church with him in Bournemouth. He was a devout Roman Catholic and it was soon after the Church had changed the liturgy from Latin to English. My grandfather obviously didn’t agree with this and made all the responses very loudly in Latin while the rest of the congregation answered in English. I found the whole experience quite excruciating, but my grandfather was oblivious. He simply had to do what he believed to be right.[88]

Politics and race


Tolkien voiced support for the Nationalists (eventually led by Franco during the Spanish Civil War) upon hearing that Republicans were destroying churches and killing priests and nuns.[89]

At a time when many Western writers and intellectuals openly admired Joseph Stalin, Tolkien made no effort to hide his contempt for the dictator of the Soviet Union. Even during World War II, when Britain was allied with the USSR, Tolkien referred to Stalin as “that bloodthirsty old murderer.”[90] Tolkien also expressed hope that the United States would overthrow both Stalin and the CPSU after Hitler’s defeat.

However, in 1961, Tolkien sharply criticized a Swedish commentator who suggested that The Lord of the Rings was an anti-communist parable and identified the Dark Lord with Stalin. Tolkien retorted,

“I utterly repudiate any such ‘reading’, which angers me. The situation was conceived long before the Russian revolution. Such allegory is entirely foreign to my thought.”[91]

Debate over race

The question of racist or racialist elements in Tolkien’s views and works has been the matter of some scholarly debate.[92] Christine Chism[93] distinguishes accusations as falling into three categories: intentional racism,[94] unconscious Eurocentric bias, and an evolution from latent racism in Tolkien’s early work to a conscious rejection of racist tendencies in his late work.

Tolkien expressed disgust at what he acknowledged as racism and once wrote of racial segregation in South Africa, “The treatment of colour nearly always horrifies anyone going out from Britain.”[95]

Opposition to Nazism

Tolkien vocally opposed Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party prior to the Second World War. In 1938, the publishing house Rütten & Loening Verlag was preparing to release The Hobbit in Nazi Germany. To Tolkien’s outrage, he was asked beforehand whether he was of Aryan origin. In a letter to his British publisher Stanley Unwin, he condemned Nazi “race-doctrine” as “wholly pernicious and unscientific”. He added that he had many Jewish friends and was considering, “letting a German translation go hang”.[96] He provided two letters to Rütten & Loening and instructed Unwin to send whichever he preferred. The more tactful letter was sent and was lost during the later bombing of Germany. In the unsent letter, Tolkien makes the point that “Aryan” is a linguistic term, denoting speakers of Indo-Iranian languages. He continued,

But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people. My great-great-grandfather came to England in the eighteenth century from Germany: the main part of my descent is therefore purely English, and I am an English subject—which should be sufficient. I have been accustomed, nonetheless, to regard my German name with pride, and continued to do so throughout the period of the late regrettable war, in which I served in the English army. I cannot, however, forbear to comment that if impertinent and irrelevant inquiries of this sort are to become the rule in matters of literature, then the time is not far distant when a German name will no longer be a source of pride.[97]

In a 1941 letter to his son Michael, he expressed his resentment at the distortion of Germanic history in “Nordicism”:

You have to understand the good in things, to detect the real evil. But no one ever calls on me to ‘broadcast’ or do a postscript. Yet I suppose I know better than most what is the truth about this ‘Nordic’ nonsense. Anyway, I have in this war a burning private grudge… against that ruddy little ignoramus Adolf Hitler … Ruining, perverting, misapplying, and making for ever accursed, that noble northern spirit, a supreme contribution to Europe, which I have ever loved, and tried to present in its true light. Nowhere, incidentally, was it nobler than in England, nor more early sanctified and Christianized.[98]

In 1968, he objected to a description of Middle-earth as “Nordic“, a term he said he disliked because of its association with racialist theories.[99]

Total war

Tolkien criticized Allied use of total war tactics against civilians from Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. In a 1945 letter to his son Christopher, he wrote:

We were supposed to have reached a stage of civilization in which it might still be necessary to execute a criminal, but not to gloat, or to hang his wife and child by him while the orc-crowd hooted. The destruction of Germany, be it 100 times merited, is one of the most appalling world-catastrophes. Well, well,—you and I can do nothing about it. And that [should] be a measure of the amount of guilt that can justly be assumed to attach to any member of a country who is not a member of its actual Government. Well the first War of the Machines seems to be drawing to its final inconclusive chapter—leaving, alas, everyone the poorer, many bereaved or maimed and millions dead, and only one thing triumphant: the Machines.[100]

He also reacted with anger at the excesses of anti-German propaganda during the war. In 1944, he wrote in a letter to his son Christopher:

… it is distressing to see the press grovelling in the gutter as low as Goebbels in his prime, shrieking that any German commander who holds out in a desperate situation (when, too, the military needs of his side clearly benefit) is a drunkard, and a besotted fanatic. … There was a solemn article in the local paper seriously advocating systematic exterminating of the entire German nation as the only proper course after military victory: because, if you please, they are rattlesnakes, and don’t know the difference between good and evil! (What of the writer?) The Germans have just as much right to declare the Poles and Jews exterminable vermin, subhuman, as we have to select the Germans: in other words, no right, whatever they have done.[101]

He was horrified by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, referring to the scientists of the Manhattan Project as “these lunatic physicists” and “Babel-builders”.[102]


Tolkien devised several themes that were reused in successive drafts of his legendarium, beginning with The Book of Lost Tales, written while recuperating from illnesses contracted during The Battle of the Somme. The two most prominent stories, the tale of Beren and Lúthien and that of Túrin, were carried forward into long narrative poems (published in The Lays of Beleriand).


British adventure stories

One of the greatest influences on Tolkien was the Arts and Crafts polymath William Morris. Tolkien wished to imitate Morris’s prose and poetry romances,[103] from which he took hints for the names of features such as the Dead Marshes in The Lord of the Rings[104] and Mirkwood,[105] along with some general aspects of approach.

Edward Wyke-Smith’s The Marvellous Land of Snergs, with its “table-high” title characters, strongly influenced the incidents, themes, and depiction of Bilbo’s race in The Hobbit.[106]

Tolkien also cited H. Rider Haggard’s novel She in a telephone interview: “I suppose as a boy She interested me as much as anything—like the Greek shard of Amyntas [Amenartas], which was the kind of machine by which everything got moving.”[107] A supposed facsimile of this potsherd appeared in Haggard’s first edition, and the ancient inscription it bore, once translated, led the English characters to She’s ancient kingdom. Critics have compared this device to the Testament of Isildur in The Lord of the Rings[108] and to Tolkien’s efforts to produce as an illustration a realistic page from the Book of Mazarbul.[109] Critics starting with Edwin Muir[110] have found resemblances between Haggard’s romances and Tolkien’s.[111][112][113]

Tolkien wrote of being impressed as a boy by S. R. Crockett‘s historical novel The Black Douglas and of basing the Necromancer (Sauron) on its villain, Gilles de Retz.[114] Incidents in both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are similar in narrative and style to the novel,[115] and its overall style and imagery have been suggested as an influence on Tolkien.[116]

European mythology

Tolkien was much inspired by early Germanic, especially Old English literature, poetry, and mythology, which were his chosen and much-loved areas of expertise. These sources of inspiration included Old English literature such as Beowulf, Norse sagas such as the Volsunga saga and the Hervarar saga,[117] the Poetic Edda, the Prose Edda, the Nibelungenlied, and numerous other culturally related works.[118] Despite the similarities of his work to the Volsunga saga and the Nibelungenlied, which were the basis for Richard Wagner‘s opera cycle Der Ring des Nibelungen, Tolkien dismissed critics’ direct comparisons to Wagner, telling his publisher, “Both rings were round, and there the resemblance ceases.” However, some critics[119][120][121] believe that Tolkien was, in fact, indebted to Wagner for elements such as the “concept of the Ring as giving the owner mastery of the world …”[122] Two of the characteristics possessed by the One Ring, its inherent malevolence and corrupting power upon minds and wills, were not present in the mythical sources but have a central role in Wagner’s opera.

Tolkien also acknowledged several non-Germanic influences or sources for some of his stories and ideas. Sophocles‘ play Oedipus the King he cited as inspiring elements of The Silmarillion and The Children of Hurin. In addition, Tolkien first read William Forsell Kirby‘s translation of the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala, while attending St. Edward’s School. He described its character of Väinämöinen as one of his influences for Gandalf the Grey. The Kalevala’s antihero Kullervo was further described as an inspiration for Turin Turambar.[123] Dimitra Fimi, Douglas A. Anderson, John Garth, and many other prominent Tolkien scholars believe that Tolkien also drew influence from a variety of Celtic (Irish, Scottish and Welsh) history and legends.[124][125] However, after the Silmarillion manuscript was rejected, in part for its “eye-splitting” Celtic names, Tolkien denied their Celtic origin:

Needless to say they are not Celtic! Neither are the tales. I do know Celtic things (many in their original languages Irish and Welsh), and feel for them a certain distaste: largely for their fundamental unreason. They have bright colour, but are like a broken stained glass window reassembled without design. They are in fact ‘mad’ as your reader says—but I don’t believe I am.[126][127]


Catholic theology and imagery played a part in fashioning Tolkien’s creative imagination, suffused as it was by his deeply religious spirit.[118][128] Tolkien acknowledged this himself:

The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision. That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like ‘religion’, to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.[129]

Specifically, Paul H. Kocher argues that Tolkien describes evil in the orthodox Christian way as the absence of good. He cites many examples in The Lord of the Rings, such as Sauron’s “Lidless Eye”: “the black slit of its pupil opened on a pit, a window into nothing.” Kocher sees Tolkien’s source as Thomas Aquinas, “whom it is reasonable to suppose that Tolkien, as a medievalist and a Catholic, knows well”.[130] Tom Shippey makes the same point, but, instead of referring to Aquinas, says Tolkien was very familiar with Alfred the Great‘s Anglo-Saxon translation of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy, known as the Lays of Boethius. Shippey contends that this Christian view of evil is most clearly stated by Boethius: “evil is nothing.” He says Tolkien used the corollary that evil cannot create as the basis of Frodo’s remark, “the Shadow … can only mock, it cannot make: not real new things of its own,” and related remarks by Treebeard and Elrond.[131] He goes on to argue that in The Lord of the Rings evil does sometimes seem to be an independent force, more than merely the absence of good (though not independent to the point of the Manichaean heresy), and suggests that Alfred’s additions to his translation of Boethius may have inspired that view.[132]


Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics

As well as his fiction, Tolkien was also a leading author of academic literary criticism. His seminal 1936 lecture, later published as an article, revolutionized the treatment of the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf by literary critics. The essay remains highly influential in the study of Old English literature to this day. Beowulf is one of the most significant influences upon Tolkien’s later fiction, with major details of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings being adapted from the poem. The piece reveals many of the aspects of Beowulf which Tolkien found most inspiring, most prominently the role of monsters in literature, particularly that of the dragon which appears in the final third of the poem:

As for the poem, one dragon, however hot, does not make a summer, or a host; and a man might well exchange for one good dragon what he would not sell for a wilderness. And dragons, real dragons, essential both to the machinery and the ideas of a poem or tale, are actually rare.[133]

 The Silmarillion

Tolkien wrote a brief “Sketch of the Mythology” which included the tales of Beren and Lúthien and of Túrin, and that sketch eventually evolved into the Quenta Silmarillion, an epic history that Tolkien started three times but never published. Tolkien desperately hoped to publish it along with The Lord of the Rings, but publishers (both Allen & Unwin and Collins) got cold feet. Moreover, printing costs were very high in 1950s Britain, requiring The Lord of the Rings to be published in three volumes.[134] The story of this continuous redrafting is told in the posthumous series The History of Middle-earth, edited by Tolkien’s son, Christopher Tolkien. From around 1936, Tolkien began to extend this framework to include the tale of The Fall of Númenor, which was inspired by the legend of Atlantis. Published in 1977, the final work, entitled The Silmarillion, received the Locus Award for Best Fantasy novel in 1978.[135]

Children’s books and other short works

In addition to his mythopoeic compositions, Tolkien enjoyed inventing fantasy stories to entertain his children.[136] He wrote annual Christmas letters from Father Christmas for them, building up a series of short stories (later compiled and published as The Father Christmas Letters). Other stories included Mr. Bliss and Roverandom (for children), and Leaf by Niggle (part of Tree and Leaf), The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, On Fairy-Stories, Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham. Roverandom and Smith of Wootton Major, like The Hobbit, borrowed ideas from his legendarium.

The Hobbit

Tolkien never expected his stories to become popular, but by sheer accident a book called The Hobbit, which he had written some years before for his own children, came in 1936 to the attention of Susan Dagnall, an employee of the London publishing firm George Allen & Unwin, who persuaded Tolkien to submit it for publication.[77] However, the book attracted adult readers as well as children, and it became popular enough for the publishers to ask Tolkien to produce a sequel.

The Lord of the Rings

Tolkien’s Cover Designs for the First Edition of The Lord of the Rings

The request for a sequel prompted Tolkien to begin what would become his most famous work: the epic novel The Lord of the Rings (originally published in three volumes 1954–1955). Tolkien spent more than ten years writing the primary narrative and appendices for The Lord of the Rings, during which time he received the constant support of the Inklings, in particular his closest friend Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia. Both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are set against the background of The Silmarillion, but in a time long after it.

Tolkien at first intended The Lord of the Rings to be a children’s tale in the style of The Hobbit, but it quickly grew darker and more serious in the writing.[137] Though a direct sequel to The Hobbit, it addressed an older audience, drawing on the immense back story of Beleriand that Tolkien had constructed in previous years, and which eventually saw posthumous publication in The Silmarillion and other volumes. Tolkien’s influence weighs heavily on the fantasy genre that grew up after the success of The Lord of the Rings.

The Lord of the Rings became immensely popular in the 1960s and has remained so ever since, ranking as one of the most popular works of fiction of the 20th century, judged by both sales and reader surveys.[138] In the 2003 “Big Read” survey conducted by the BBC, The Lord of the Rings was found to be the “Nation’s Best-loved Book”. Australians voted The Lord of the Rings “My Favourite Book” in a 2004 survey conducted by the Australian ABC.[139] In a 1999 poll of Amazon.com customers, The Lord of the Rings was judged to be their favourite “book of the millennium”.[140] In 2002 Tolkien was voted the 92nd “greatest Briton” in a poll conducted by the BBC, and in 2004 he was voted 35th in the SABC3’s Great South Africans, the only person to appear in both lists. His popularity is not limited to the English-speaking world: in a 2004 poll inspired by the UK’s “Big Read” survey, about 250,000 Germans found The Lord of the Rings to be their favourite work of literature.[141]

Posthumous publications

Tolkien’s monogram, and Tolkien Estate trademark

The Silmarillion

Tolkien had appointed his son Christopher to be his literary executor, and he (with assistance from Guy Gavriel Kay, later a well-known fantasy author in his own right) organized some of his father’s unpublished material into a single coherent volume, published as The Silmarillion in 1977—his father had previously attempted to get a collection of “Silmarillion” material published in 1937 before writing The Lord of the Rings.[142]

Unfinished Tales and The History of Middle-earth

In 1980 Christopher Tolkien published a collection of more fragmentary material, under the title Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth. In subsequent years (19831996) he published a large amount of the remaining unpublished materials, together with notes and extensive commentary, in a series of twelve volumes called The History of Middle-earth. They contain unfinished, abandoned, alternative, and outright contradictory accounts, since they were always a work in progress for Tolkien and he only rarely settled on a definitive version for any of the stories. There is not complete consistency between The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, the two most closely related works, because Tolkien never fully integrated all their traditions into each other. He commented in 1965, while editing The Hobbit for a third edition, that he would have preferred to completely rewrite the book because of the style of its prose.[143]

The Children of Húrin

More recently, in 2007, the collection was completed with the publication of The Children of Húrin by HarperCollins (in the UK and Canada) and Houghton Mifflin (in the US). The novel tells the story of Túrin Turambar and his sister Nienor, children of Húrin Thalion. The material was compiled by Christopher Tolkien from The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-earth, and unpublished manuscripts.

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún

In February 2009, Publishers Weekly announced that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt had acquired the American rights to Tolkien’s unpublished work The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún.[144] The work, which was released worldwide on 5 May 2009 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and HarperCollins, retells the legend of Sigurd and the fall of the Niflungs from Germanic mythology. It is a narrative poem composed in alliterative verse and is modelled after the Old Norse poetry of the Elder Edda. Christopher Tolkien supplied copious notes and commentary upon his father’s work.

According to Christopher Tolkien, it is no longer possible to trace the exact date of the work’s composition. On the basis of circumstantial evidence, he suggests that it dates from the 1930s. In his foreword he wrote, “He scarcely ever (to my knowledge) referred to them. For my part, I cannot recall any conversation with him on the subject until very near the end of his life, when he spoke of them to me, and tried unsuccessfully to find them.”[145] In a 1967 letter to W. H. Auden, Tolkien wrote, “Thank you for your wonderful effort in translating and reorganizing The Song of the Sibyl. In return again I hope to send you, if I can lay my hands on it (I hope it isn’t lost), a thing I did many years ago when trying to learn the art of writing alliterative poetry: an attempt to unify the lays about the Völsungs from the Elder Edda, written in the old eight-line fornyrðislag stanza.”[146]

Mr. Bliss

One of Tolkien’s least-known short works, published in 1982, it tells the story of Mr. Bliss and his first ride in his new motor-car. Many adventures follow: encounters with bears, angry neighbours, irate shopkeepers, and assorted collisions. The story was inspired by Tolkien’s own vehicular mishaps with his first car, purchased in 1932. The bears were based on toy bears owned by Tolkien’s sons. Tolkien was both author and illustrator of the book. He submitted it to his publishers as a balm to readers who were hungry for more from him after the success of The Hobbit. The lavish ink and coloured-pencil illustrations would have made production costs prohibitively expensive. Tolkien agreed to redraw the pictures in a simpler style, but then found he did not have time to do so. The book was published in 1982 as a facsimile of Tolkien’s difficult-to-read illustrated manuscript, with a typeset transcription on each facing page.

Manuscript locations

The Department of Special Collections and University Archives at Marquette University‘s John P. Raynor, S.J., Library in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, preserves many of Tolkien’s manuscripts;[147] other original material is in Oxford University’s Bodleian Library. Marquette University has the manuscripts and proofs of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and other works, including Farmer Giles of Ham, while the Bodleian Library holds the papers containing Tolkien’s Silmarillion mythology and his academic work.[148]

In 2009, a partial draft of Language and Human Nature, which Tolkien had begun co-writing with C.S. Lewis but had never completed, was discovered at the Bodleian Library.[149]

Languages and philology

Linguistic career

Both Tolkien’s academic career and his literary production are inseparable from his love of language and philology. He specialized in English philology at university and in 1915 graduated with Old Norse as special subject. He worked for the Oxford English Dictionary from 1918 and is credited with having worked on a number of words starting with the letter W, including walrus, over which he struggled mightily.[150] In 1920, he became Reader in English Language at the University of Leeds, where he claimed credit for raising the number of students of linguistics from five to twenty. He gave courses in Old English heroic verse, history of English, various Old English and Middle English texts, Old and Middle English philology, introductory Germanic philology, Gothic, Old Icelandic, and Medieval Welsh. When in 1925, aged thirty-three, Tolkien applied for the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professorship of Anglo-Saxon at the Pembroke College, he boasted that his students of Germanic philology in Leeds had even formed a “Viking Club“.[151] He also had a certain, if imperfect, knowledge of Finnish.[152]

Privately, Tolkien was attracted to “things of racial and linguistic significance”, and in his 1955 lecture English and Welsh, which is crucial to his understanding of race and language, he entertained notions of “inherent linguistic predilections”, which he termed the “native language” as opposed to the “cradle-tongue” which a person first learns to speak.[153] He considered the West Midlands dialect of Middle English to be his own “native language”, and, as he wrote to W. H. Auden in 1955, “I am a West-midlander by blood (and took to early west-midland Middle English as a known tongue as soon as I set eyes on it).”[154]

Tolkien learned Latin, French, and German from his mother, and while at school he learned Middle English, Old English, Finnish, Gothic, Greek, Italian, Old Norse, Spanish, Welsh, and Medieval Welsh. He was also familiar with Danish, Dutch, Lombardic, Norwegian, Icelandic, Russian, Swedish, Middle Dutch, Middle High German, Middle Low German, Old High German, Old Slavonic, and Lithuanian,[155] revealing his deep linguistic knowledge, above all of the Germanic languages.

Language construction

See also: Languages of Middle-earth

Ah! like gold fall the leaves in the wind, long years numberless as the wings of trees! The beginning of the Quenya poem Namárië written in tengwar and in Latin script.

Parallel to Tolkien’s professional work as a philologist, and sometimes overshadowing this work, to the effect that his academic output remained rather thin, was his affection for constructing languages. The most developed of these are Quenya and Sindarin, the etymological connection between which formed the core of much of Tolkien’s legendarium. Language and grammar for Tolkien was a matter of aesthetics and euphony, and Quenya in particular was designed from “phonaesthetic” considerations; it was intended as an “Elvenlatin”, and was phonologically based on Latin, with ingredients from Finnish, Welsh, English, and Greek.[127] A notable addition came in late 1945 with Adûnaic or Númenórean, a language of a “faintly Semitic flavour”, connected with Tolkien’s Atlantis legend, which by The Notion Club Papers ties directly into his ideas about inability of language to be inherited, and via the “Second Age” and the story of Eärendil was grounded in the legendarium, thereby providing a link of Tolkien’s 20th-century “real primary world” with the legendary past of his Middle-earth.

Tolkien considered languages inseparable from the mythology associated with them, and he consequently took a dim view of auxiliary languages: in 1930 a congress of Esperantists were told as much by him, in his lecture A Secret Vice, “Your language construction will breed a mythology”, but by 1956 he had concluded that “Volapük, Esperanto, Ido, Novial, &c, &c, are dead, far deader than ancient unused languages, because their authors never invented any Esperanto legends”.[156]

The popularity of Tolkien’s books has had a small but lasting effect on the use of language in fantasy literature in particular, and even on mainstream dictionaries, which today commonly accept Tolkien’s idiosyncratic spellings dwarves and dwarvish (alongside dwarfs and dwarfish), which had been little used since the mid-19th century and earlier. (In fact, according to Tolkien, had the Old English plural survived, it would have been dwerrow.) He also coined the term eucatastrophe, though it remains mainly used in connection with his own work.


After Tolkien
Reception of
Adaptations of
Works inspired by


In a 1951 letter to Milton Waldman, Tolkien wrote about his intentions to create a “body of more or less connected legend”, of which “[t]he cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama”.[157] The hands and minds of many artists have indeed been inspired by Tolkien’s legends. Personally known to him were Pauline Baynes (Tolkien’s favourite illustrator of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Farmer Giles of Ham) and Donald Swann (who set the music to The Road Goes Ever On). Queen Margrethe II of Denmark created illustrations to The Lord of the Rings in the early 1970s. She sent them to Tolkien, who was struck by the similarity they bore in style to his own drawings.[158]

However, Tolkien was not fond of all the artistic representation of his works that were produced in his lifetime, and was sometimes harshly disapproving. In 1946, he rejected suggestions for illustrations by Horus Engels for the German edition of The Hobbit as “too Disnified … Bilbo with a dribbling nose, and Gandalf as a figure of vulgar fun rather than the Odinic wanderer that I think of”.[159]

Tolkien was sceptical of the emerging Tolkien fandom in the United States, and in 1954 he returned proposals for the dust jackets of the American edition of The Lord of the Rings:

Thank you for sending me the projected ‘blurbs’, which I return. The Americans are not as a rule at all amenable to criticism or correction; but I think their effort is so poor that I feel constrained to make some effort to improve it.[127]

He had dismissed dramatic representations of fantasy in his essay “On Fairy-Stories“, first presented in 1939:

In human art Fantasy is a thing best left to words, to true literature. […] Drama is naturally hostile to Fantasy. Fantasy, even of the simplest kind, hardly ever succeeds in Drama, when that is presented as it should be, visibly and audibly acted.[160]

On receiving a screenplay for a proposed movie adaptation of The Lord of the Rings by Morton Grady Zimmerman, Tolkien wrote:

I would ask them to make an effort of imagination sufficient to understand the irritation (and on occasion the resentment) of an author, who finds, increasingly as he proceeds, his work treated as it would seem carelessly in general, in places recklessly, and with no evident signs of any appreciation of what it is all about.[161]

Tolkien went on to criticize the script scene by scene (“yet one more scene of screams and rather meaningless slashings”). He was not implacably opposed to the idea of a dramatic adaptation, however, and sold the film, stage and merchandise rights of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1968. United Artists never made a film, although director John Boorman was planning a live-action film in the early 1970s. In 1976 the rights were sold to Tolkien Enterprises, a division of the Saul Zaentz Company, and the first movie adaptation of The Lord of the Rings appeared in 1978, an animated rotoscoping film directed by Ralph Bakshi with screenplay by the fantasy writer Peter S. Beagle. It covered only the first half of the story of The Lord of the Rings.[162] In 1977 an animated TV production of The Hobbit was made by Rankin-Bass, and in 1980 they produced an animated The Return of the King, which covered some of the portions of The Lord of the Rings that Bakshi was unable to complete.

From 2001 to 2003, New Line Cinema released The Lord of the Rings as a trilogy of live-action films that were filmed in New Zealand and directed by Peter Jackson. The series was successful, performing extremely well commercially and winning numerous Oscars.

There are currently plans for a two-film series based on The Hobbit (see The Hobbit (2011 film)). The films are scheduled for release in December 2012 and December 2013. Peter Jackson will serve as executive producer, director and co-writer.[163]


Posthumously named after Tolkien are the Tolkien Road in Eastbourne, East Sussex, and the asteroid 2675 Tolkien discovered in 1982. Tolkien Way in Stoke-on-Trent is named after Tolkien’s eldest son, Fr. John Francis Tolkien, who was the priest in charge at the nearby Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of the Angels and St. Peter in Chains.[164] There is also a professorship in Tolkien’s name at Oxford, the J.R.R. Tolkien Professor of English Literature and Language.[165]

In the Dutch town of Geldrop, near Eindhoven, the streets of an entire new neighbourhood are named after Tolkien himself (“Laan van Tolkien”) and some of the best-known characters from his books. A gaff-topsail schooner of Netherlands registry used for passenger cruises on the Baltic Sea and elsewhere in European waters was named J.R. Tolkien in 1998.

In the Hall Green and Moseley areas of Birmingham there are a number of parks and walkways dedicated to J. R. R. Tolkien—most notably, the Millstream Way and Moseley Bog. Collectively the parks are known as the Shire Country Parks. Every year at Sarehole Mill the Tolkien Weekend is held in memory of the author; the fiftieth anniversary of the release of The Lord of the Rings was commemorated in 2005.

In the Silicon Valley towns of Saratoga and San Jose in California, there are two housing developments with street names drawn from Tolkien’s works. At the University of California at Davis are “Baggins End Innovative Housing”, an on-campus commune consisting of 14 polyurethane-insulated fiberglass domes, and an off-campus development known as “Village Homes”, a planned community designed to be ecologically sustainable and whose street names are taken from The Lord of the Rings.

The Columbia, Maryland neighbourhood of Hobbit’s Glen and its street names (including Rivendell Lane, Tooks Way, and Oakenshield Circle) come from Tolkien’s works. There is also a Hobbit Restaurant in Ocean City, Maryland.

Commemorative plaques

Sarehole Mill‘s blue plaque

The Plough and Harrow’s blue plaque

There are five blue plaques that commemorate places associated with Tolkien: one in Oxford, and four in Birmingham. One of the Birmingham plaques commemorates the inspiration provided by Sarehole Mill, near which he lived between the ages of four and eight, while two others mark childhood homes up to the time he left to attend Oxford University. The third one marks a hotel he stayed at while on leave from World War I. The Oxford plaque commemorates the residence where Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and most of The Lord of the Rings.

Address Commemoration Date unveiled Issued by
Sarehole Mill
Hall Green, Birmingham
“Inspired” 1896–1900
(i. e. lived nearby)
15 August 2002 Birmingham Civic Society and
The Tolkien Society[166]
1 Duchess Place
Ladywood, Birmingham
Lived near here 1902–1910 Unknown Birmingham Civic Society[167]
4 Highfield Road
Edgbaston, Birmingham
Lived here 1910–1911 Unknown Birmingham Civic Society and
The Tolkien Society[168]
Plough and Harrow
Hagley Road, Birmingham
Stayed here June 1916 June 1997 The Tolkien Society[169]
20 Northmoor Road
North Oxford
Lived here 1930–1947 3 December 2002 Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board[170]

Another two plaques marking buildings associated with Tolkien are found in Oxford and Harrogate. The Harrogate plaque commemorates a residence where Tolkien convalesced from trench fever in 1917,[171] while the Oxford plaque marks his home from 1953–1968 at 76 Sandfield Road, Headington.[172]


Main article: Bibliography of J. R. R. Tolkien


General references


  1. ^ Tolkien pronounced his surname /ˈtɒlkiːn/, see his phonetic transcription published on the illustration in The Return of the Shadow: The History of The Lord of the Rings, Part One. [Edited by] Christopher Tolkien. London: Unwin Hyman, [25 August] 1988. (The History of Middle-earth; 6) ISBN 0-04-440162-0. The position of the stress is not entirely fixed: stress on the second syllable (tolkien rather than tolkien) has been used by some members of the Tolkien family. In General American the surname is also pronounced /ˈtoʊlkiːn/. This pronunciation no doubt arose by analogy with such words as toll and polka, or because many General American speakers lack vowels of the [ɒ] and [ɔː] types; thus this becomes the closest possible approximation to the Received Pronunciation in their phonologies. Wells, John. 1990. Longman pronunciation dictionary. Harlow: Longman, ISBN 0582053838
  2. ^ Biography, pp. 111, 200, 266.
  3. ^ “Middle-earth” is derived from an Anglicized form of Old Norse Miðgarðr, the land inhabited by humans in Norse mythology.
  4. ^ Letters, nos. 131, 153, 154, 163.
  5. ^ de Camp, L. Sprague (1976). Literary Swordsmen and Sorcerers: The Makers of Heroic Fantasy. Arkham House. ISBN 0-87054-076-9.  The author emphasizes the impact not only of Tolkien but also of William Morris, George MacDonald, Robert E. Howard, and E. R. Eddison.
  6. ^ Mitchell, Christopher. “J. R. R. Tolkien: Father of Modern Fantasy Literature”. Veritas Forum. http://www.veritas.org/media/talks/585. Retrieved 2 March 2009. 
  7. ^ The Oxford companion to English Literature calls him “the greatest influence within the fantasy genre. (Sixth edition, 2000, page 352. Ed. Margaret Drabble.)
  8. ^ Clute, John, and Grant, John, eds. (1999). The Encyclopedia of Fantasy. St. Martin’s Press. ISBN 0-312-19869-8
  9. ^ “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”. The Times (London). 5 January 2008. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/article3127837.ece. Retrieved 17 April 2008. 
  10. ^ Miller, Matthew (27 October 2009). “Top-Earning Dead Celebrities”. Forbes.com. http://www.forbes.com/2009/10/27/top-earning-dead-celebrities-list-dead-celebs-09-entertainment_land.html?boxes=listschannelinsidelists
  11. ^ Letters, no. 165.
  12. ^ “Ash nazg gimbatul” (in German). Der Spiegel (35/1969). 25 August 1969. http://www.spiegel.de/spiegel/print/d-45548112.html. “Professor Tolkien, der seinen Namen vom deutschen Wort ‘tollkühn’ ableitet,… (lit.: Professor Tolkien who derives his name from the German word ‘tollkühn’,… )”. 
  13. ^ Georg Gerullis: Die altpreußischen Ortsnamen, o.V., Berlin/Leipzig 1922, S. 184.
  14. ^ Max Mechow: Deutsche Familiennamen prussischer Herkunft, Tolkemita, Dieburg 1994, S. 99.
  15. ^ Old Lamb House, Bull Street, Archives and Heritage Service, Birmingham City Council. Updated 12 January 2009. Retrieved on 27 April 2009. Archived May 11, 2008 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. ^ Biography, p. 14.
  17. ^ Biography, p. 13. Both the spider incident and the visit to a kraal are covered here.
  18. ^ Biography, p. 24.
  19. ^ Biography, Ch I, “Bloemfontein”. At 9 Ashfield Road, King’s Heath.
  20. ^ Biography, p. 27.
  21. ^ Biography, p. 113.
  22. ^ Biography, p. 29.
  23. ^ a b Doughan, David (2002). “JRR Tolkien Biography”. Life of Tolkien. http://www.tolkiensociety.org/tolkien/biography.html. Retrieved 12 March 2006. 
  24. ^ Biography, p. 22.
  25. ^ Biography, p. 30.
  26. ^ Carpenter, Biography, pages 24-51.
  27. ^ a b Letters, no. 306.
  28. ^ Biography, p. 31.
  29. ^ Carpenter, Biography, page 31.
  30. ^ J.R.R. Tolkien, Birmingham Heritage Forum. Retrieved on 27 April 2009.
  31. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien, Archives and Heritage Service, Birmingham City Council. Updated 7 January 2009. Retrieved on 28 April 2009.
  32. ^ Bracken, Pamela (4 March 2006). “Echoes of Fellowship: The PRB and the Inklings”. Conference paper, C. S. Lewis & the Inklings. Retrieved 9 March 2009. 
  33. ^ Biography, pp. 53–54.
  34. ^ dab, Roots of Romance (zoomed in on 1911 trail), hosted on Google Maps. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
  35. ^ a b Wayne G Hammond & Christina Scull (26 February 2004). The Lord of the Rings JRR Tolkien Author and Illustrator. Royal Mail Group plc (commemorative postage stamp pack). 
  36. ^ Biography, p. 40.
  37. ^ Doughan, David (2002). “War, Lost Tales And Academia”. J. R. R. Tolkien: A Biographical Sketch. http://www.tolkiensociety.org/tolkien/biography.html#2. Retrieved 12 March 2006. 
  38. ^ Biography, p. 43.
  39. ^ Biography, pp. 67–69.
  40. ^ Biography, p. 73.
  41. ^ Biography, p. 86.
  42. ^ Biography, pp. 77-85.
  43. ^ Tolkien and the Great War, page 94.
  44. ^ Garth, John. Tolkien and the Great War, Boston, Houghton Mifflin 2003, pp. 89, 138, 147.
  45. ^ Quoted in John Garth, Tolkien and the Great War, p. 138.
  46. ^ John Garth, Tolkien and the Great War, pages 94-95.
  47. ^ Quoted in John Garth, Tolkien and the Great War, p. 200.
  48. ^ Biography, p. 93.
  49. ^ The Lord of the Rings. Preface to the Second Edition.
  50. ^ Garth, John. Tolkien and the Great War, Boston, Houghton Mifflin 2003, pp. 207 et seq.
  51. ^ Tolkien’s Webley .455 service revolver was put on display in 2006 as part of a Battle of the Somme exhibition in the Imperial War Museum, London. (See “Personal Stories: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien”. Battle of the Somme. Imperial War Museum. http://www.iwm.org.uk/server/show/nav.00o00200h. Retrieved 28 April 2009. ) Several of his service records, mostly dealing with his health problems, can be seen at the National Archives. (“Officer’s service record: J R R Tolkien”. First World War. National Archives. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/pathways/firstworldwar/people/tolkien.htm. Retrieved 28 April 2009. )
  52. ^ Following rural English usage, Tolkien used the name “hemlock” for various plants with white flowers in umbels, resembling hemlock (Conium maculatum); the flowers among which Edith danced were more probably cow parsley (Anthriscus sylvestris) or wild carrot (Daucus carota). See John Garth, Tolkien and the Great War (Harper Collins/Houghton Mifflin 2003), and Peter Gilliver, Jeremy Marshall, & Edmund Weiner, The Ring of Words (OUP 2006).
  53. ^ Letters, no. 340.
  54. ^ Cater, Bill (12 April 2001). “We talked of love, death, and fairy tales”. UK Telegraph (London). http://www.telegraph.co.uk/arts/main.jhtml?xml=/arts/2001/12/04/batolk04.xml. Retrieved 13 March 2006. 
  55. ^ Gilliver, Peter; Jeremy Marshall and Edmund Weiner (2006). The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the OED. OUP. 
  56. ^ a b Daniel Grotta (28 March 2001). J.R.R. Tolkien Architect of Middle Earth. Running Press. pp. 64–. ISBN 9780762409563. http://books.google.com/books?id=9LHQvq6P5qIC&pg=PA64. Retrieved 22 August 2010. 
  57. ^ See The Name Nodens (1932) in the bibliographical listing. For the etymology, see Nodens#Etymology.
  58. ^ Biography, p. 143.
  59. ^ Ramey, Bill (30 March 1998). “The Unity of Beowulf: Tolkien and the Critics”. Wisdom’s Children. Archived from the original on 21 April 2006. http://web.archive.org/web/20060421094854/http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/billramey/beowulf.htm. Retrieved 13 March 2006. 
  60. ^ Tolkien: Finn and Hengest. Chiefly, p.4 in the Introduction by Alan Bliss.
  61. ^ Tolkien: Finn and Hengest, the discussion of Eotena, passim.
  62. ^ Kennedy, Michael (2001). “Tolkien and Beowulf – Warriors of Middle-earth”. Amon Hen. Archived from the original on 9 May 2006. http://web.archive.org/web/20060509110607/http://www.triode.net.au/~dragon/tilkal/issue1/beowulf.html. Retrieved 18 May 2006. 
  63. ^ a b Carpenter, Biography, page 133.
  64. ^ “The Data File: ‘New’ Tolkien Book,” Locus, February 2003, p.85.
  65. ^ a b c d e Letters, no. 35 (see also editorial note).
  66. ^ a b c d e Hammond, Wayne; Scull, Christina (2006). The J. R. R. Tolkien Companion and Guide. 2. HarperCollins. pp. 224, 226, 232. ISBN 978-0618391134
  67. ^ a b “JRR Tolkien trained as British spy”. London: Daily Telegraph. 16 September 2009. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/6197169/JRR-Tolkien-trained-as-British-spy.html. Retrieved 17 September 2009. 
  68. ^ Rogerson, John. The Oxford Illustrated History of the Bible, 2001.
  69. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien, The Father Christmas Letters (1976)
  70. ^ Meras, Phyllis (15 January 1967). “Go, Go, Gandalf”. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/books/01/02/11/specials/tolkien-gandalf.html. Retrieved 12 March 2006. 
  71. ^ Letters, no. 336.
  72. ^ Letters, no. 332.
  73. ^ Humphrey Carpenter, “Tolkien: The Authorized Biography,” page 158.
  74. ^ London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 45554, p. 9, 1 January 1972. Retrieved 2008-07-31.
  75. ^ Letters, no. 334 (editorial note).
  76. ^ Shropshire County Council (2002). “J.R.R. Tolkien”. Literary Heritage, West Midlands. http://www3.shropshire-cc.gov.uk/tolkien.htm
  77. ^ a b “J. R. R. Tolkien Dead at 81; Wrote ‘The Lord of the Rings'”. New York Times. 3 September 1973. http://www.nytimes.com/books/01/02/11/specials/tolkien-obit.html. Retrieved 28 April 2009. 
  78. ^ Letters, no. 52, to Christopher Tolkien, 29 November 1943
  79. ^ Letters, nos. 64, 131, etc.
  80. ^ (DVD) J. R. R. Tolkien – Creator Of Middle Earth. New Line Cinema. 2002. 
  81. ^ a b Tolkien, J. R. R. (1954), The Fellowship of the Ring, The Lord of the Rings, Boston: Houghton Mifflin (published 1987), Foreword, ISBN 0-395-08254-4 
  82. ^ Longenecker, Dwight. Why Tolkien said No to Narnia, Spero News, 12 November 2008. Accessed 4 April 2009.
  83. ^ Pearce, Joseph (2003). Why Tolkien Says The Lord of the Rings Is Catholic, National Catholic Register, January 12–19, 2003. Accessed 1 December 2008.
  84. ^ Wood, Ralph C. Biography of J. R. R. Tolkien (1892–1973). Addison, Texas; Leadership University. Updated 13 July 2002. Retrieved 28 April 2009.
  85. ^ Tolkien, Mythopoeia (the poem), circa 1931.
  86. ^ Carpenter, Humphrey (1978). The Inklings. Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0007748698.  Lewis was brought up in the Church of Ireland.
  87. ^ Craven, R. Kenton (2001). “Catholic Poem in Time of War: The Lord of the Rings”. Catholic Education Resource Center. http://www.catholiceducation.org/articles/arts/al0127.html. Retrieved 28 April 2009.  Reprinted from True West. “Tolkien himself – as did Evelyn Waugh – abhorred the changes in the Mass and the prevailing Catholic mind.”
  88. ^ Tolkien, Simon (23 February 2003). “My Grandfather”. The Mail on Sunday. Archived from the original on April 22, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080422072235/http://www.simontolkien.com/jrrtolkien.html. Retrieved 27 April 2009. 
  89. ^ Letters, no. 83.
  90. ^ Letters, no. 53.
  91. ^ Letters, no. 229.
  92. ^ Jensen, Steuard. Was Tolkien a racist? Were his works?, Tolkien Meta-FAQ, III. A. 7. Retrieved on 27 April 2009.
  93. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia (2006), s.v. “Racism, Charge of”, p. 557.
  94. ^ John Yatt, The Guardian (2 December 2002), writes: “White men are good, ‘dark’ men are bad, orcs are worst of all.” (Other critics such as Tom Shippey and Michael D.C. Drout disagree with such clear-cut generalizations of Tolkien’s “white” and “dark” men into good and bad.) Tolkien’s works have also been embraced by self-admitted racists such as the British National Party.
  95. ^ Letters, no. 61, to Christopher Tolkien, 18 April 1944.
  96. ^ Letters, no. 29, to Stanley Unwin, 25 July 1938.
  97. ^ Letters, no. 30.
  98. ^ Letters, no. 45.
  99. ^ Letters, no. 294.
  100. ^ Letters, no. 96.
  101. ^ Letters, no. 81.
  102. ^ Letters, no. 102.
  103. ^ Letters, no. 1.
  104. ^ Letters, no. 226.
  105. ^ Anderson, Douglas A. The Annotated Hobbit, Boston, Houghton Mifflin 1988, p. 183, note 10.
  106. ^ Anderson, Douglas A. The Annotated Hobbit, Boston, Houghton Mifflin 1988, pp. 6–7.
  107. ^ Resnick, Henry (1967). “An Interview with Tolkien”. Niekas: 37–47. 
  108. ^ Nelson, Dale J. (2006). “Haggard’s She: Burke’s Sublime in a popular romance”. Mythlore (Winter–Spring). http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0OON/is_3-4_24/ai_n16418915/pg_1. Retrieved 2 December 2007. 
  109. ^ Flieger, Verlyn (2005). Interrupted Music: The Making Of Tolkien’s Mythology. Kent State University Press. p. 150. ISBN 0873388140. http://books.google.com/?id=Q6zgmCf_kY4C&pg=PA150&dq=Tolkien+%22Red+Book%22+Haggard. Retrieved 2 December 2007. 
  110. ^ Muir, Edwin (1988). The Truth of Imagination: Some Uncollected Reviews and Essays. Aberdeen University Press. p. 121. ISBN 008036392X
  111. ^ Lobdell, Jared C. (2004). The World of the Rings: Language, Religion, and Adventure in Tolkien. Open Court. pp. 5–6. ISBN 9780812695694
  112. ^ Rogers, William N., II; Underwood, Michael R. (2000). “Gagool and Gollum: Exemplars of Degeneration in King Solomon’s Mines and The Hobbit“. In George Clark and Daniel Timmons (eds.). J.R.R. Tolkien and His Literary Resonances: Views of Middle-earth. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press. pp. 121–132. ISBN 0313308454
  113. ^ Stoddard, William H. (July 2003). “Galadriel and Ayesha: Tolkienian Inspiration?”. Franson Publications. http://www.troynovant.com/Stoddard/Tolkien/Galadriel-and-Ayesha.html. Retrieved 2 December 2007. 
  114. ^ Letters, p. 391, footnote, quoted in Jared C. Lobdell, The World of the Rings: Language, Religion, and Adventure in Tolkien, p. 6.
  115. ^ Anderson, Douglas A. The Annotated Hobbit, Boston, Houghton Mifflin 1988, p. 150.
  116. ^ Lobdell, Jared C. The World of the Rings: Language, Religion, and Adventure in Tolkien, pp. 6–7.
  117. ^ As described by Christopher Tolkien in Hervarar Saga ok Heidreks Konung (Oxford University, Trinity College). B. Litt. thesis. 1953/4. [Year uncertain], The Battle of the Goths and the Huns, in: Saga-Book (University College, London, for the Viking Society for Northern Research) 14, part 3 (1955–6) [1]
  118. ^ a b Day, David (1 February 2002). Tolkien’s Ring. New York: Barnes and Noble. ISBN 1-58663-527-1
  119. ^ The Two Rings[dead link]
  120. ^ Spengler, The ‘Ring’ and the remnants of the West, Asia Times, 11 January 2003. Retrieved on 27 April 2009.
  121. ^ Spengler, Tolkien’s Christianity and the pagan tragedy, Asia Times, 11 January 2003. Retrieved on 27 April 2009.
  122. ^ Tolkien’s Ring and Der Ring des Nibelungen, Chapter 5 in Harvey, David (1995). One Ring to Rule them All. Updated 20 October 1995. Retrieved on 27 April 2009.
  123. ^ Handwerk, Brian (1 March 2004). “Lord of the Rings Inspired by an Ancient Epic”. National Geographic News. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2001/12/1219_tolkienroots.html. Retrieved 13 March 2006. 
  124. ^ Fimi, Dimitra (2006). “‘Mad’ Elves and ‘elusive beauty’: some Celtic strands of Tolkien’s mythology”. Folklore (West Virginia University Press) 117 (2): 156–170. doi:10.1353/tks.2007.0015. ISSN 1547-3155. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m2386/is_2_117/ai_n16676591. Retrieved 27 April 2009. 
  125. ^ Fimi, Dimitra (2007). “Tolkien’s “‘Celtic’ type of legends”: Merging Traditions”. Tolkien Studies (West Virginia University Press) 4: 51–71. doi:10.1353/tks.2007.0015. ISSN 1547-3155. http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/tolkien_studies/v004/4.1fimi.html. Retrieved 25 April 2009. 
  126. ^ Letters, no. 19.
  127. ^ a b c Letters, no. 144.
  128. ^ Bofetti, Jason (November 2001). “Tolkien’s Catholic Imagination”. Crisis Magazine. http://www.crisismagazine.com/november2001/feature7.htm. Retrieved 30 August 2006. 
  129. ^ Letters, no. 142.
  130. ^ Kocher, Paul H. (1972). Master of Middle-earth: The Fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien. Houghton Mifflin. pp. 76–77. ISBN 0395140978
  131. ^ Shippey, Tom (1983). The Road to Middle-earth. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. pp. 140–141. ISBN 0-395-33973-1
  132. ^ Road, pp. 141–145.
  133. ^ Tolkien, J. R. R. Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics, Oxford, 1963, pp. 10–11.
  134. ^ Hammond, Wayne G. J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive Bibliography, London: January 1993, Saint Paul’s Biographies, ISBN 1-873040-11-3, American edition ISBN 0-938768-42-5
  135. ^ “1978 Award Winners & Nominees”. Worlds Without End. http://www.worldswithoutend.com/books_year_index.asp?year=1978. Retrieved 17 May 2009. 
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  137. ^ Times Editorial Staff (5 June 1955). “Oxford Calling”. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/books/01/02/11/specials/tolkien-oxford.html. Retrieved 12 March 2006. 
  138. ^ Seiler, Andy (16 December 2003). “‘Rings’ comes full circle”. USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/life/movies/news/2003-12-12-lotr-main_x.htm. Retrieved 12 March 2006. 
  139. ^ Cooper, Callista (5 December 2005). “Epic trilogy tops favorite film poll”. ABC News Online. http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200512/s1523327.htm. Retrieved 12 March 2006. 
  140. ^ O’Hehir, Andrew (4 June 2001). “The book of the century”. Salon.com. http://www.salon.com/books/feature/2001/06/04/tolkien/. Retrieved 12 March 2006. 
  141. ^ Diver, Krysia (5 October 2004). “A lord for Germany”. The Sydney Morning Herald. http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/10/04/1096871805007.html. Retrieved 12 March 2006. 
  142. ^ see The History Of Middle-earth.
  143. ^ Martinez, Michael (27 July 2002). “Middle-earth Revised, Again”. Michael Martinez Tolkien Essays. Archived from the original on June 17, 2008. http://web.archive.org/web/20080617122627/http://www.merp.com/essays/MichaelMartinez/michaelmartinezsuite101essay122. Retrieved 28 April 2009. 
  144. ^ “Publishing News Briefs: Week of 2/23.2009”. Publishers Weekly. 23 February 2009. http://www.publishersweekly.com/article/CA6639000.html. Retrieved 12 May 2009. [dead link]
  145. ^ The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun, page 5.
  146. ^ Letters, no. 295.
  147. ^ “J.R.R. Tolkien Collection”. Department of Special Collections and University Archives, Marquette University. 4 March 2003. http://www.marquette.edu/library/collections/archives/tolkien.html. Retrieved 28 April 2009. 
  148. ^ McDowell, Edwin (4 September 1983). “Middle-earth Revisited”. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/books/01/02/11/specials/tolkien-revisited.html. Retrieved 12 March 2006. 
  149. ^ Beebe discovers unpublished C.S. Lewis manuscript, txstate.edu, University News Service, 8 July 2009
  150. ^ Winchester, Simon (2003). The Meaning of Everything: The Story of the Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-860702-4; and Gilliver, Peter, Jeremy Marshall and Edmund Weiner (2006). The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-861069-6.
  151. ^ Letters, no. 7, to the Electors of the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professorship of Anglo-Saxon, University of Oxford, 27 June 1925.
  152. ^ Grotta, Daniel (2001). J.R.R. Tolkien: Architect of Middle Earth. Philadelphia, Running Press. ISBN 0-7624-0956-8.
  153. ^ English and Welsh, O’Donnell Lecture, 1955, cited in Scull, Christina, and Hammond, Wayne G. The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: Reader’s Guide, London, HarperCollins 2006, p. 249.
  154. ^ Letters, no. 163.
  155. ^ Jeffrey, Henning (January–February, 1996). “On Tolkien: Growing up with language”. Model Languages 1 (8). http://www.langmaker.com/ml0108.htm
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  157. ^ Letters, no. 131.
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  159. ^ Letters, no. 107.
  160. ^ J. R. R. Tolkien, “On Fairy-Stories”, in Tolkien, J. R. R. (1964), J. R. R. Tolkien: Tree and Leaf, London: HarperCollins (published 2001), ISBN 0-00-710504-5 .
  161. ^ Letters, no. 207.
  162. ^ Canby, Vincent (15 November 1978). “Film: ‘The Lord of the Rings’ From Ralph Bakshi”. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/books/01/02/11/specials/tolkien-lordfilm.html. Retrieved 12 March 2006. 
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Further reading

A small selection of books about Tolkien and his works:

  • Douglas A. Anderson (Editor), Michael D. C. Drout (Editor), Verlyn Flieger (Editor) (2004). Anderson, Douglas A., Michael D. C. Drout and Verlyn Flieger. ed. Tolkien Studies, An Annual Scholarly Review Vol. I. West Virginia University Press. ISBN 0-937058-87-4
  • Carpenter, Humphrey (1979). The Inklings: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Charles Williams and Their Friends. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-395-27628-4
  • Edited by Jane Chance (2003). Chance, Jane. ed. Tolkien the Medievalist. London, New York: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-28944-0
  • Edited by Jane Chance (2004). Chance, Jane. ed. Tolkien and the Invention of Myth, a Reader. Louisville: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-2301-1
  • Curry, Patrick (2004). Defending Middle-earth: Tolkien, Myth and Modernity. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-618-47885-X
  • Michael D. C. Drout, editor (2006). Drout, Michael D. C.. ed. J. R. R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment. New York City: Routledge. ISBN 0-415969425.
  • Duriez, Colin; David Porter (2001). The Inklings Handbook: The Lives, Thought and Writings of C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, Charles Williams, Owen Barfield, and Their Friends. London: Azure. ISBN 1-902694-13-9
  • Duriez, Colin (2003). Tolkien and C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship. Mahwah, NJ: HiddenSpring. ISBN 1-58768-026-2
  • Edited by Verlyn Flieger and Carl F. Hostetter (2000). Flieger, Verlyn and Carl F. Hostetter. ed. Tolkien’s Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press. ISBN 0-313-30530-7. DDC 823.912. LC PR6039.
  • Fonstad, Karen Wynn (1991). The Atlas of Middle-earth. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0-618-126996
  • Foster, Robert (2001). The Complete Guide to Middle-earth. Del Rey. ISBN 0-345-44976-2
  • Garth, John (2003). Tolkien and the Great War. Harper-Collins. ISBN 0-00-711953-4
  • Gilliver, Peter; Marshall, Jeremy; Weiner, Edmund (2006). The Ring of Words. Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198610696
  • Glyer, Diana Pavlac (2007). The Company They Keep: C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in Community. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press. ISBN 978-0-87338-890-0
  • Grotta-Kurska, Daniel (1976). J.R.R. Tolkien: Architect of Middle Earth (A Biography). Philadelphia: Running Press. ISBN 0-7624-0956-8
  • Haber, Karen (2001). Meditations on Middle-earth: New Writing on the Worlds of J. R. R. Tolkien. St. Martin’s Press. ISBN 0-312-27536-6
  • Harrington, Patrick, ed (2003). Tolkien and Politics. London, England: Third Way Publications. ISBN 9780954478827
  • Stuart Lee, Elizabeth Solopova, (2005). Lee, S. D., and E. Solopova. ed. The Keys of Middle-earth: Discovering Medieval Literature through the Fiction of J. R. R. Tolkien. Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 1-4039-4671-X
  • Pearce, Joseph (1998). Tolkien: Man and Myth. London: HarperCollinsPublishers. ISBN 0-00-274018-4
  • Perry, Michael (2006). Untangling Tolkien: A Chronology and Commentary for The Lord of the Rings. Seattle: Inkling Books. ISBN 1-58742-019-8
  • Shippey, Tom (2000). J. R. R. Tolkien – Author of the Century. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-618-12764-X
  • Tom, Shippey (2003). The Road to Middle-earth. Boston, New York: Houghton Mifflin Company. ISBN 0-618-25760-8
  • Ready, William (1968). Understanding Tolkien and the Lord of the Rings. New York: Paperback Library. 
  • Strachey, Barbara (1981). Journeys of Frodo: an Atlas of The Lord of the Rings. London, Boston: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 0-04-912016-6
  • Tolkien, John & Priscilla (1992). The Tolkien Family Album. London: HarperCollins. ISBN 0-261-10239-7
  • Tyler, J.E.A. (1976). The Tolkien Companion. New York: Gramercy. ISBN 0-517-14648-7
  • White, Michael (2003). Tolkien: A Biography. New American Library. ISBN 0-451-21242-8

External links

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[show]v·d·eWorks by J. R. R. TolkienFiction




The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book (1962) · Tree and Leaf (1964) · The Tolkien Reader (1966) · The Road Goes Ever On (1967) · Smith of Wootton Major (1967)
Unfinished Tales (1980) · Mr. Bliss (1982)
A Middle English Vocabulary (1922) · Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Middle English text, 1925) · Some Contributions to Middle-English Lexicography (1925) · The Devil’s Coach Horses (1925) · Ancrene Wisse and Hali Meiðhad (1929)
The Name “Nodens” (1932) · Sigelwara Land Parts I and II, in Medium Aevum (1932-34) · Chaucer as a Philologist: The Reeve’s Tale (1934) · Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics (1936) · The Reeve’s Tale: version prepared for recitation at the “summer diversions” (1939) · On Fairy-Stories (1939)
Sir Orfeo (1944)
Ofermod and Beorhtnoth’s Death (1953) · Middle English “Losenger”: Sketch of an etymological and semantic enquiry (1953)
Ancrene Wisse: The English Text of the Ancrene Riwle (1962) · English and Welsh (1963) · Introduction to Tree and Leaf (1964) · Contributions to the Jerusalem Bible (as translator and lexicographer) (1966) · Tolkien on Tolkien (autobiographical) (1966)
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo (Modern English translations, 1975) · Finn and Hengest (1982) · The Monsters and the Critics (1983) · Beowulf and the Critics (2002)
[show]v·d·eThe Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
[show] Volumes
[show] Production and reception
[show] Related works
Frodo · Sam · Merry · Pippin · Bilbo · Gandalf · Aragorn · Legolas · Gimli · Boromir · Sauron · Saruman · Arwen · Elrond · Glorfindel · Galadriel · Celeborn · Théoden · Éomer · Éowyn · Wormtongue · Faramir · Denethor · Beregond · Gollum · Witch-king · Gothmog · Treebeard · Tom Bombadil
[showAdaptations and other derivative works
[show]v·d·eThe Hobbit by J. R. R. TolkienEditions



Related works

Bilbo · Gandalf · Thorin Oakenshield · Balin · Dwalin · Fíli · Kíli · Dori · Nori · Ori · Óin · Glóin · Bifur · Bofur · Bombur · Tom, Bert and Bill · Elrond · Great Goblin · Gollum · Lord of the Eagles · Beorn · Elvenking · Bard · Master of Lake-town · Smaug
[show]v·d·eTolkien family
Arthur Tolkien · J. R. R. Tolkien · Edith Tolkien · Christopher Tolkien · Baillie Tolkien · Simon Tolkien · Tim Tolkien
[show]v·d·eJ. R. R. Tolkien’sMiddle-earthlegendariumPublished during his lifetime

Posthumous publications

Lists of articles


Scholars and translators

Artistic depictions


[show]v·d·eBritish children’s and young adults’ literature (1900–1949)


Name Tolkien, J. R. R.
Alternative names Tolkien, John Ronald Reuel
Short description British philologist and author
Date of birth 3 January 1892(1892-01-03)
Place of birth Bloemfontein, Orange Free State
Date of death 2 September 1973(1973-09-02)
Place of death Bournemouth, England