Happy Birthday, J. R. R. Tolkien!

Wednesday, January 3rd, 2018

Today marks the 126th anniversary of the birth of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, the author of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and other high-fantasy epics.

Tolkien didn't set out with the intention of becoming a fantasy author.  He was, first and foremost, an expert in words and languages.  He experimented with constructed languages, including Esperanto, as a teenager, and the fascination never left him.  After the first World War, Tolkien returned to civilian life with a job at the Oxford English Dictionary, where he wrote information on the history and etymology of his assigned words.  From there, he made the leap into academia as the youngest professor at the University of Leeds before going on to teach at Oxford, where he had a fellowship at Pembroke College.

It was during his time at Oxford that Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and the start of what would become The Lord of the Rings.  Though he was no stranger to publishing--by this time, Tolkien had published numerous scholarly works and translations--he had never intended to publish The Hobbit.  He was fond of writing and illustrating stories for his children, and The Hobbit began in much the same manner.  When Tolkien did submit the story, however, it quickly gained popularity, not only with children but with older readers as well.  The call for a sequel was what led Tolkien to delve more deeply into what would become Middle-earth, creating languages, races, geography, and thousands of years of history for his imagined land.

The result, The Lord of the Rings, was intended as a single book, though, given its size, it was published in three volumes, released 1954-1955.  Further material relating to Middle-earth, including The Silmarillion, was published after Tolkien's death in 1973.

The high-fantasy epics Tolkien created have inspired generations of writers, filmakers, artists, and fans.  His stories have been made into films and plays, paintings and songs, and continue to shape the style of fantasy as a genre. 

 

 

The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780547928227
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Published: Mariner Books - September 18th, 2012

The Fellowship of the Ring Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9780547928210
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - September 18th, 2012

The Two Towers Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9780547928203
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Published: Mariner Books - September 18th, 2012

The Return of the King: Being the Third Part of the Lord of the Rings Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9780547928197
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Published: Mariner Books - September 18th, 2012

Beren and Luthien Cover Image
By J. R. R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (Editor), Alan Lee (Illustrator)
$30.00
ISBN: 9781328791825
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Published: Houghton Mifflin - June 1st, 2017

The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings Set: The Hobbit, the Fellowship of the Ring, the Two Towers, the Return of the King Cover Image
$35.96
ISBN: 9780345538376
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Published: Del Rey Books - September 25th, 2012

The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9781328834546
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Published: Houghton Mifflin - November 7th, 2017

The Silmarillion Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780544338012
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Published: Mariner Books - October 7th, 2014

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The Story of Kullervo Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780544947245
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - August 8th, 2017

Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780544570306
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - August 4th, 2015

Tales from the Perilous Realm Cover Image
By Alan Lee (Illustrator), J. R. R. Tolkien
$28.00
ISBN: 9780547154114
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Published: Houghton Mifflin - November 1st, 2008

The Children of Hurin Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780547086057
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Published: Houghton Mifflin - October 14th, 2008