|Real Name:||J. R. R. Tolkien|
|Birth Day:||January 3, 1892|
|Death Date:||2 September 1973(1973-09-02) (aged 81)
Bournemouth, England, United Kingdom
|Birth Place:||Bloemfontein, Orange Free State, South Africa, South Africa|
As per our current Database, J.R.R. Tolkien died on 2 September 1973(1973-09-02) (aged 81)
Bournemouth, England, United Kingdom.
|Height||Weight||Hair Colour||Eye Colour||Blood Type||Tattoo(s)|
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on 3 January 1892 in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State (later annexed by the British Empire; now Free State Province in the Republic 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 Tolkien, who was born on 17 February 1894.
When he was three, he 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. This left the family without an income, so Tolkien's mother took him to live with her parents in Kings Heath, Birmingham. Soon after, in 1896, they moved to Sarehole (now in Hall Green), then a Worcestershire village, later annexed to Birmingham. 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 nearby towns and villages such as Bromsgrove, Alcester, and Alvechurch and places such as his aunt Jane's farm Bag End, the name of which he used in his fiction.
Mabel Tolkien was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1900 despite vehement protests by her Baptist family, which stopped all financial assistance to her. In 1904, when J. R. R. Tolkien was 12, his mother died of acute diabetes at Fern Cottage in Rednal, which she was renting. She was then about 34 years of age, about as old as a person with diabetes mellitus type 1 could survive without treatment—insulin would not be discovered until two decades later. Nine years after her 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."
After his mother's death, Tolkien grew up in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham and attended King Edward's School, Birmingham, and later St. Philip's School. In 1903, he won a Foundation Scholarship and returned to King Edward's. While a pupil there, Tolkien was one of the cadets from the school's Officers Training Corps who helped line the route for the 1910 coronation parade of King George V. Like the other cadets from King Edward's, Tolkien was posted just outside the gates of Buckingham Palace.
In 1911, while they were at King Edward's School, Tolkien and three friends, Rob Gilson, Geoffrey Bache Smith and Christopher Wiseman, formed a semi-secret society they called the T.C.B.S. The initials stood 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. 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 1911, Tolkien went on a summer holiday in Switzerland, a trip that he recollects vividly in a 1968 letter, 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.
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. Among his tutors at Oxford was Joseph Wright.
On 8 January 1913, Tolkien travelled by train to Cheltenham and was met on the platform by Edith. The two took a walk into the countryside, sat under a railway viaduct, and talked. By the end of the day, Edith had agreed to accept Tolkien's proposal. She wrote to Field and returned her engagement ring. Field was "dreadfully upset at first", and the Field family was "insulted and angry". Upon learning of Edith's new plans, Jessop wrote to her guardian, "I have nothing to say against Tolkien, he is a cultured gentleman, but his prospects are poor in the extreme, and when he will be in a position to marry I cannot imagine. Had he adopted a profession it would have been different."
Edith Bratt and Ronald Tolkien were formally engaged at Birmingham in January 1913, and married at St. Mary Immaculate Roman Catholic Church, Warwick, on 22 March 1916. In his 1941 letter to Michael, Tolkien expressed admiration for his wife's willingness to marry a man with no job, little money, and no prospects except the likelihood of being killed in the Great War.
In August 1914, Britain entered the First World War. Tolkien's relatives were shocked when he elected not to volunteer immediately for the British Army. In a 1941 letter to his son Michael, Tolkien recalled: "In those days chaps joined up, or were scorned publicly. It was a nasty cleft to be in for a young man with too much imagination and little physical courage."
Instead, Tolkien, "endured the obloquy", and entered a programme by which he delayed enlistment until completing his degree. By the time he passed his finals in July 1915, Tolkien recalled that the hints were "becoming outspoken from relatives". He was commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers on 15 July 1915. He trained with the 13th (Reserve) Battalion on Cannock Chase, Rugeley Camp near to Rugeley, Staffordshire, for 11 months. In a letter to Edith, Tolkien complained: "Gentlemen are rare among the superiors, and even human beings rare indeed." Following their wedding, Lieutenant and Mrs. Tolkien took up lodgings near the training camp.
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 his special subject. He worked on 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. 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 Pembroke College, Oxford, he boasted that his students of Germanic philology in Leeds had even formed a "Viking Club". He also had a certain, if imperfect, knowledge of Finnish.
On 2 June 1916, Tolkien received a telegram summoning him to Folkestone for posting to France. The Tolkiens spent the night before his departure in a room at the Plough & Harrow Hotel in Edgbaston, Birmingham.
On 5 June 1916, Tolkien boarded a troop transport for an overnight voyage to Calais. Like other soldiers arriving for the first time, he was sent to the British Expeditionary Force's (BEF) base depot at Étaples. On 7 June, he was informed that he had been assigned as a signals officer to the 11th (Service) Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers. The battalion was part of the 74th Brigade, 25th Division.
He left Étaples on 27 June 1916 and joined his battalion at Rubempré, near Amiens. He found himself commanding enlisted men who were drawn mainly from the mining, milling, and weaving towns of Lancashire. According to John Garth, he "felt an affinity for these working class men", but military protocol prohibited friendships with "other ranks". Instead, he was required to "take charge of them, discipline them, train them, and probably censor their letters ... If possible, he was supposed to inspire their love and loyalty."
On 27 October 1916, as his battalion attacked Regina Trench, Tolkien contracted trench fever, a disease carried by the lice. He was invalided to England on 8 November 1916. Many of his dearest school friends were killed in the war. Among their number were Rob Gilson of the Tea Club and Barrovian Society, who was killed on the first day of the Somme while leading his men in the assault on Beaumont Hamel. Fellow T.C.B.S. member Geoffrey Smith was killed during the same battle when a German artillery shell landed on a first-aid post. Tolkien's battalion was almost completely wiped out following his return to England.
Tolkien was promoted to the temporary rank of lieutenant on 6 January 1918. 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,
On 16 July 1919 Tolkien was officially demobilized, at Fovant, on Salisbury Plain, with a temporary disability pension.
On 3 November 1920, Tolkien was demobilized and left the army, retaining his rank of lieutenant. His 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. In 1920, he took up a post as reader in English language at the University of Leeds, becoming the youngest professor there. 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 became academic standard works for several decades. He 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.
In the 1920s, Tolkien undertook a translation of Beowulf, which he finished in 1926, but did not publish. It was finally edited by his son and published in 2014, more than 40 years after Tolkien's death and almost 90 years after its completion.
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".
During his time at Pembroke College Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings, while 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 Asclepeion at Lydney Park, Gloucestershire, in 1928.
Although he did not often write or speak about it, Tolkien advocated the dismantling of the British Empire and also of the United Kingdom. In a 1936 letter to a former student, the Belgian linguist Simonne d'Ardenne, he wrote, "The political situation is dreadful... I have the greatest sympathy with Belgium—which is about the right size of any country! I wish my own were bounded still by the seas of the Tweed and the walls of Wales... we folk do at least know something of mortality and eternity and when Hitler (or a Frenchman) says 'Germany (or France) must live forever' we know that he lies."
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. When it was published a year later, the book attracted adult readers as well as children, and it became popular enough for the publishers to ask Tolkien to produce a sequel.
Tolkien vocally opposed Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party before the Second World War, and despised Nazi racist and anti-semitic ideology. In 1938, the publishing house Rütten & Loening, preparing to release The Hobbit in Nazi Germany, outraged Tolkien by asking him 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". He provided two letters to Rütten & Loening and instructed Unwin to send whichever he preferred. The more tactful letter was sent but is now lost. In the unsent letter, Tolkien made the point that "Aryan" was a linguistic term, denoting speakers of Indo-Iranian languages, and stated that "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." In a 1941 letter to his son Michael, he expressed his resentment at the distortion of Germanic history in "Nordicism", referring to "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." In 1968, he objected to a description of Middle-earth as "Nordic" for a similar reason.
In the run-up to the Second World War, Tolkien was earmarked as a codebreaker. In January 1939, he was asked whether he would be prepared to serve in the cryptographic department of the Foreign Office in the event of national emergency. 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. A record of his training was found which included the notation "keen" next to his name, although Tolkien scholar Anders Stenström suggested that "In all likelihood, that is not a record of Tolkien's interest, but a note about how to pronounce the name." He was informed in October that his services would not be required.
During his recovery in a cottage in Little Haywood, Staffordshire, he began to work on what he called The Book of Lost Tales, beginning with The Fall of Gondolin. Lost Tales represented Tolkien's attempt to create a mythology for England, a project he would abandon without ever completing. Throughout 1917 and 1918 his illness kept recurring, but he had recovered enough to do home service at various camps. It was at this time that Edith bore their first child, John Francis Reuel Tolkien. In a 1941 letter, Tolkien described his son John as "(conceived and carried during the starvation-year of 1917 and the great U-Boat campaign) round about the Battle of Cambrai, when the end of the war seemed as far off as it does now".
Tolkien was a devout Roman Catholic, and in his religious and political views he was mostly a traditionalist moderate, with libertarian, distributist, localist, and monarchist leanings, in the sense of favouring established conventions and orthodoxies over innovation and modernization, whilst castigating government bureaucracy; 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."
Tolkien reacted with anger to the excesses of anti-German propaganda during World War II. In a 1944 letter to Christopher, he compared the local press to the verbal excesses of Joseph Goebbels, pointing out that if they advocated exterminating Germans, they were no better than the Nazis themselves.
In 1945, Tolkien moved to Merton College, Oxford, becoming the Merton Professor of English Language and Literature, 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 criticized Allied use of total-war tactics against civilians of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. In a 1945 letter to his son Christopher, he wrote that it was unacceptable to gloat over a criminal's or Germany's punishment, and that Germany's destruction, deserved or not, was an "appalling world-catastrophe". He was horrified by the 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, referring to the scientists of the Manhattan Project as "these lunatic physicists" and "Babel-builders".
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 "Elven-latin", and was phonologically based on Latin, with ingredients from Finnish, Welsh, English, and Greek. 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 the 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.
In a 1951 letter to publisher Milton Waldman (1895–1976), 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". 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.
Tolkien acknowledged several non-Germanic sources for some of his stories and ideas. Sophocles' play Oedipus Rex he cited as inspiring elements of The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin. He read William Forsell Kirby's translation of the Finnish national epic, the Kalevala by Elias Lönnrot, while attending King Edward's School. He described its character of Väinämöinen as an influence for Gandalf the Grey, while its antihero Kullervo inspired Túrin Turambar. Scholars such as Dimitra Fimi, Douglas A. Anderson, John Garth, and Marjorie Burns believe that Tolkien also drew influence from Celtic history and legends. However, after the Silmarillion manuscript was rejected, in part for its "eye-splitting" Celtic names, he denied their Celtic origin, writing that he did know "Celtic things" including in Irish and Welsh, but he felt some distaste for their "fundamental unreason". Fimi pointed out that despite this, Tolkien was fluent in medieval Welsh and declared when delivering the first O'Donnell lectures at Oxford in 1954 that Welsh was "beautiful".
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. 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)."
He was contemptuous of Joseph Stalin. During World War II, Tolkien referred to Stalin as "that bloodthirsty old murderer". However, in 1961, Tolkien sharply criticized a Swedish commentator who suggested that The Lord of the Rings was an anti-communist parable and identified Sauron with Stalin, stating that the situation was conceived long before the Russian revolution.
Before her death, Mabel Tolkien had assigned the guardianship of her sons to her close friend, Father Francis Xavier Morgan of the Birmingham Oratory, who was assigned to bring them up as good Catholics. In a 1965 letter to his son Michael, Tolkien recalled the influence of the man whom he always called "Father Francis": "He was an upper-class Welsh-Spaniard Tory, and seemed to some just a pottering old gossip. He was—and he was not. I first learned charity and forgiveness from him; and in the light of it pierced even the 'liberal' darkness out of which I came, knowing more [i.e. Tolkien having grown up knowing more] about 'Bloody Mary' than the Mother of Jesus—who was never mentioned except as an object of wicked worship by the Romanists."
In his retirement Tolkien was a consultant and translator for the Jerusalem Bible, published in 1966. He was initially assigned a larger portion to translate, but, due to other commitments, only managed to offer some criticisms of other contributors and a translation of the Book of Jonah.
Tolkien 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 film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings was released in 1978 as 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. In 1977, an animated musical television film of The Hobbit was made by Rankin-Bass, and in 1980, they produced the animated musical television film The Return of the King, which covered some of the portions of The Lord of the Rings that Bakshi was unable to complete.
Edith died on 29 November 1971, at the age of 82. Ronald returned to Oxford, where Merton College gave him convenient rooms near the High Street. He missed Edith, but enjoyed being back in the city.
Tolkien was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1972 New Year Honours and received the insignia of the Order at Buckingham Palace on 28 March 1972. In the same year Oxford University gave him an honorary Doctorate of Letters.
During his life in retirement, from 1959 up to his death in 1973, Tolkien received steadily increasing public attention and literary fame. In 1961, his friend C. S. Lewis even nominated him for the Nobel Prize in Literature. The sales of his books were so profitable that he regretted that he had not chosen early retirement. 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!"
He had the name Lúthien engraved on Edith's tombstone at Wolvercote Cemetery, Oxford. When Tolkien died 21 months later on 2 September 1973 from a bleeding ulcer and chest infection, at the age of 81, he was buried in the same grave, with Beren added to his name. The engravings read:
Tolkien's will was proven on 20 December 1973, with his estate valued at £190,577 (equivalent to £2,321,707 in 2019).
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 this material into a single coherent volume, published as The Silmarillion in 1977. It received the Locus Award for Best Fantasy novel in 1978.
In 1980, Christopher Tolkien published a collection of more fragmentary material, under the title Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth. In subsequent years (1983–1996), 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 rewrite the book completely because of the style of its prose.
Tolkien was an accomplished artist, who learned to paint and draw as a child and continued to do so all his life. From early in his writing career, the development of his stories was accompanied by drawings and paintings, especially of landscapes, and by maps of the lands in which the tales were set. He also produced pictures to accompany the stories told to his own children, including those later published in Mr Bliss and Roverandom, and sent them elaborately illustrated letters purporting to come from Father Christmas. Although he regarded himself as an amateur, the publisher used the author's own cover art, his maps, and full-page illustrations for the early editions of The Hobbit. He prepared maps and illustrations for The Lord of the Rings, but the first edition contained only the maps, his calligraphy for the inscription on the One Ring, and his ink drawing of the Doors of Durin. Much of his artwork was collected and published in 1995 as a book: J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator. The book discusses Tolkien's paintings, drawings, and sketches, and reproduces approximately 200 examples of his work. Catherine McIlwaine curated a major exhibition of Tolkien's artwork at the Bodleian Library, Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth, accompanied by a book of the same name that analyses Tolkien's achievement and illustrates the full range of the types of artwork that he created.
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.
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. In the 2003 "Big Read" survey conducted by the BBC, The Lord of the Rings was found to be the UK's "Best-loved Novel". Australians voted The Lord of the Rings "My Favourite Book" in a 2004 survey conducted by the Australian ABC. In a 1999 poll of Amazon.com customers, The Lord of the Rings was judged to be their favourite "book of the millennium". 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.
Since 2003, The Tolkien Society has organized Tolkien Reading Day, which takes place on 25 March in schools around the world.
In the field of taxonomy, over 80 taxa (genera and species) have been given scientific names honouring, or deriving from, characters or other fictional elements from The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and other works set in Middle-earth. Several taxa have been named after the character Gollum (also known as Sméagol), as well as for various hobbits, the small humanlike creatures such as Bilbo and Frodo Baggins. Various elves, dwarves, and other creatures that appear in his writings, as well as Tolkien himself, have been honoured in the names of several species, including the amphipod Leucothoe tolkieni, and the wasp Shireplitis tolkieni. In 2004, the extinct hominid Homo floresiensis was described, and quickly earned the nickname "hobbit" due to its small size. In 1978, palaeontologist Leigh Van Valen named over 20 taxa of extinct mammals after Tolkien lore in a single paper. In 1999, entomologist Lauri Kaila described 48 new species of Elachista moths and named 37 of them after Tolkien mythology. It has been noted that "Tolkien has been accorded formal taxonomic commemoration like no other author."
More recently, in 2007, The Children of Húrin was published 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, which was released worldwide on 5 May 2009 by HarperCollins and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 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.
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.
The Story of Kullervo, first published in Tolkien Studies in 2010 and reissued with additional material in 2015, is a retelling of a 19th-century Finnish poem. It was written in 1915 while Tolkien was studying at Oxford.
From 2012 to 2014, Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema released The Hobbit, a series of three films based on The Hobbit, with Peter Jackson serving as executive producer, director, and co-writer. The first instalment, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, was released in December 2012; the second, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, in December 2013; and the last instalment, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, in December 2014.
Three mountains in the Cadwallader Range of British Columbia, Canada, have been named after Tolkien's characters. These are Mount Shadowfax, Mount Gandalf and Mount Aragorn. Nearby Tolkien Peak is named for him. On 1 December 2012, it was announced in the New Zealand press that a bid was launched for the New Zealand Geographic Board to name a mountain peak near Milford Sound after Tolkien for historical and literary reasons and to mark Tolkien's 121st birthday.
In 2012, Tolkien was among the British cultural icons selected by artist Sir Peter Blake to appear in a new version of his most famous artwork—the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover—to celebrate the British cultural figures of his life that he most admires.
The Fall of Arthur, published on 23 May 2013, is a long narrative poem composed by Tolkien in the early-1930s. It is alliterative, extending to almost 1,000 lines imitating the Old English Beowulf metre in Modern English. Though inspired by high medieval Arthurian fiction, the historical setting of the poem is during the Post-Roman Migration Period, both in form (using Germanic verse) and in content, showing Arthur as a British warlord fighting the Saxon invasion, while it avoids the high medieval aspects of the Arthurian cycle (such as the Grail, and the courtly setting); the poem begins with a British "counter-invasion" to the Saxon lands (Arthur eastward in arms purposed).
In 2013, Pembroke College, Oxford University established an annual lecture on fantasy literature in Tolkien's honour.
Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary, published on 22 May 2014, is a prose translation of the early medieval epic poem Beowulf from Old English to modern English. Translated by Tolkien from 1920 to 1926, it was edited by his son Christopher. The translation is followed by over 200 pages of commentary on the poem; this commentary was the basis of Tolkien's acclaimed 1936 lecture "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics". The book also includes the previously unpublished "Sellic Spell" and two versions of "The Lay of Beowulf". The former is a fantasy piece on Beowulf's biographical background, while the latter is a poem on the Beowulf theme.
The Tale of Beren and Lúthien is one of the oldest and most often revised in Tolkien's legendarium. The story is one of three contained within The Silmarillion which Tolkien believed to warrant their own long-form narratives. It was published as a standalone book, edited by Christopher Tolkien, under the title Beren and Lúthien in 2017.
In 2017, Amazon acquired the global television rights to The Lord of the Rings. The series will introduce new stories set before The Fellowship of the Ring. The press release referred to "previously unexplored stories based on J. R. R. Tolkien's original writings". Amazon will be the producer in conjunction with the Tolkien Estate and The Tolkien Trust, HarperCollins and New Line Cinema.
On 2 September 2017, the Oxford Oratory, Tolkien's parish church during his time in Oxford, offered its first Mass for the intention of Tolkien's cause for beatification to be opened. A prayer was written for his cause.
The Fall of Gondolin is a tale of a beautiful, mysterious city destroyed by dark forces, which Tolkien called "the first real story" of Middle-earth. It was published on 30 August 2018 as a standalone book, edited by Christopher Tolkien and illustrated by Alan Lee.
Before his death, Tolkien negotiated the sale of the manuscripts, drafts, proofs and other materials related to his then-published works—including The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and Farmer Giles of Ham—to the Department of Special Collections and University Archives at Marquette University's John P. Raynor, S.J., Library in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. After his death his estate donated the papers containing Tolkien's Silmarillion mythology and his academic work to the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. The Library held an exhibition of his work in 2018, including more than 60 items which had never been seen in public before.
A biographical film Tolkien was released on 10 May 2019. It focused on Tolkien's early life and war experiences. The Tolkien family and estate have stated that they did not "approve of, authorise or participate in the making of" the film.
Currently, J.R.R. Tolkien is 131 years, 5 months and 3 days old. J.R.R. Tolkien will celebrate 132nd birthday on a Wednesday 3rd of January 2024.
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