School is finally out for the year! Yay! Actually, I've been done for a month, but I've sort of been "forgetting" about the overdue biography about my dear friend J. R. R. Tolkien. BUT IT IS FINALLY COMPLETE. Did you know that some people were working to get him canonized? That would be awesome. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, patron saint of elves, dwarves, hobbits, and wizards. Oh yeah!
The Life of J. R. R. Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born January 3rd, 1892, in South Africa. His father, Arthur Tolkien, who was English by birth, was a bank clerk who had come to Africa to try to make a go of his business. Before he moved, he had proposed to Mabel Suffield, who met him in Africa to be married. They lived there for several years, until Arthur suddenly died of hemorrhages in February of 1896. Mabel was left to care for John Ronald and his brother Hilary. The widowed Mrs. Tolkien then decided to relocate the family to England.
In England, Ronald and Hilary were schooled at home by their mother. Once they were older, they would be able to try for admission to King Edward’s School. Meanwhile, Ronald was beginning to show much prospect. He loved Latin, and equally detested French. Ronald also took pleasure in anything pertaining to words. His mother gave him many books to read, and he particularly liked the works of George McDonald.
In 1899, Ronald first took his entrance exams to King Edward’s. He failed them. Undeterred, he took the exams again a year later. This time he scored higher, and was admitted to the school. King Edward’s was a city school, and slightly chaotic, but Ronald eventually learned to like it. Unfortunately, it was also very expensive. Ronald and Hilary once more transferred schools, this time to the Grammar School of St. Philip, at the Birmingham Oratory where they attended Mass. It was less expensive, and could provide the boys a Catholic education.
Ronald did very well at St. Philip’s. The academic standards were lower, and he found himself far ahead of his classmates. He then won a scholarship to his old school, which meant it was back to St. Edward’s for Ronald. He studied Greek, which he found enjoyable, and Shakespeare, which he disliked. And so another year passed at St. Edward’s.
In 1904, Mabel Tolkien was diagnosed with diabetes. She recovered slightly, but then fell into a diabetic coma. In November of that year, she died. By her bedside were her sister and the parish priest, Father Francis Xavier Morgan, who would remain a friend to the Tolkien boys for years to come. Ronald and Hilary, now aged twelve and ten, were left orphans.
With Mabel gone, relatives were energetically trying to convert Ronald and Hilary back to Protestantism. It was in Father Francis’ hands where the boys would go, and he had to make his decision carefully. For a while, the boys stayed at their Aunt Beatrice’s house, but they later moved to Mrs. Faulkner’s boarding house. By this time, Ronald had mastered Latin and Greek, and was competent in a number of other languages such as Gothic and Finnish, and he occupied himself with creating languages of his own. He also had gained several close friends at St. Edward’s. With them, he started the “T. C. B. S.” (Tea Club, Barovian Society). Until 1916, they would meet after hours to exchange and critique each other’s work.
The Tolkien boys weren’t the only boarders at Mrs. Faulkner’s house. Edith Bratt, a nineteen year old orphan, lived there too. Ronald and Edith got along exceptionally well, and after a year, knew that they were in love. Father Francis was aghast. For one thing, Edith was three years older than Ronald. Secondly, they were living under the same roof. Thirdly, Edith was distracting Ronald from is studying for a scholarship at Oxford. Father Francis banned Ronald from seeing or writing Edith until he was twenty-one years of age.
Ronald reapplied for the Oxford scholarship, having failed it the first time. He was accepted, and quickly fell in love with the place. He was able to study the languages he loved, and joined several clubs. But even though he was busy, Ronald still remembered a very important date: January 3rd, 1913, his twenty-first birthday. He wrote to Edith as soon as the clock struck midnight. Ronald and Edith were married March 22nd, 1916.
After they were married, Ronald had to go fight in the war in France. Upon falling sick, he returned to the English countryside with Edith. In 1917, their first child, John Francis Reuel Tolkien was born. The Tolkien family moved to Oxford, and in the twelve years that followed, three more children were born unto Edith and Ronald.
In September of 1937, one of Ronald’s greatest works, The Hobbit, was published. It was an immediate success. Today, it still remains a recommended read for children. An employer of The Hobbit’s publisher asked Ronald if he had any similar material to that book. He wanted another hobbit story.
Ronald sent in several of his shorter stories, none of them containing hobbits. Not one of them was sent to the publishers. By December of that year, he had begun his new series, which would be called The Lord of the Rings. It featured an older Bilbo, who is seen in The Hobbit, and his nephew Frodo. This wasn’t another happy hobbit story though. It was filled with Orcs, black riders, danger, and death. It was a far cry from the carefree atmosphere of The Hobbit. Perhaps that was what made people love it. The final book in the series was published on October 20th, 1955.
Like The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings quickly came to public notice. Slogans such as “Gandalf for President” began popping up everywhere. Ronald even received a letter from a man whose name was Sam Gamgee. The man had heard that his name belonged to one of the characters, though he hadn’t read the books himself. In return, Ronald sent the real-life Sam the whole series.
With his new fandom ever increasing in population, the now retired Ronald and his wife relocated to Bournemouth. Edith enjoyed living in Bournemouth; she had always been shy, and never went out to visit neighbours or attend parties. At her new home, she could enjoy being the wife of an illustrious author. Ronald however, found Bournemouth at times constraining. It lacked the educated conversations that he longed for, his only refuges being by the sea, in his room, and at the nearby Catholic church.
Ronald and Edith had only been in their new home a couple of years when Edith fell ill. She died November 29th, 1971. Her death greatly grieved Ronald; they had been married over sixty years. He decided to move back to Oxford, where he could visit his friends and children.
On August 31st, Ronald was admitted to the hospital for a bleeding gastric ulcer. The following day, he developed a chest infection. On September 2nd, at the age of eighty-one, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien died, with two of his children at his bedside. He is buried at the corporation cemetery at Wolvercote, Oxford.
Sources: Arwen Undomiel and the Tolkien Society
Sorry about the change in text. Blogger is being silly. ;) But never mind the text! The Desolation of Smaug trailor has come out!!! And it looks good. Very good indeed. I'm just hoping the presence of Tauriel doesn't interfere with the original storyline. Let it be as Tolkien would have dne it!!! :)
Sorry I've been slow responding to comments as of late. I'll try to get around to them shortly! And yes, I say that WAY to often.