John Ronald Ruel Tolkien was born on 3 January 1892 in Bloemfontein in the Oranje Free State (today the part of the Republic of South Africa). Mabel and Arthur Tolkien had moved there, when the writer's father got a job in one of the banks of the place mentioned. In 1985 small Ronald (this was the name he used) returned to native England with his mother and two years younger brother Hilary. A small city Sarehole not far from Birmingham became their new home. There they received a message informing of Arthur Tolkien's death. Soon the mother together with her sons converted to Catholicism. Although as a result they encountered many difficulties along with abjuration by the rest of the family, Tolkien respected mother's decision and remained a devout catholic till the end of his life.
In 1904 the peace was interrupted by a serious illness and death. The orphaned boys were taken care of by a priest Francis Morgan who secured them for home in the flat of one of parishioners. Then Tolkien met Edith Bratt. Their friendship evoluted into love which did not fail even in spite of father Morgan's interjection. The first thing Ronald did after reaching the age of 21 was writing a letter to Edith. The girl, already engaged then, gave up with her fiancÚ in order to marry young Tolkien on 22 March 1916. Several months after the wedding he was sent to the front of World War I - he took part in the offensive on Somme. However, after 4 months in the soldier's uniform Ronald was sent back home due to his illness. That is when Tolkien wrote first parts of "Silmarillion" which meant to be the mythology for the English, but published only after author's death (older versions of the story can also be found on the shelves of libraries entitled "The Book of Lost Tales"). Year 1924 brought Tolkien the title of the professor of Old English at the University of Leeds. Soon the writer was given the job at the University of Oxford.
When in 1930 J.R.R. Tolkien began to work on "The Hobbit" with the aim of entertaining his children, it did not even come to his mind that this story would start the grand epic saga - "The Lord of the Rings". It looked like the adventures of Bilbo Baggins and the company of dwarves would not be ever printed. Fortunately, a publishing company got to know about the book. In 1936 the book was already on sale. The success of "The Hobbit" and readers' requests did not leave Tolkien any other possibility - a year later he began to write the history of the War of the Ring. Because of long pauses in writing caused by World War II among other things, it was only in 1954 when "The Lord of the Rings" was published. The book achieved a worldwide success and secured Tolkien prosperous life. The writer often met his friends C.S. Lewis, W.H. Lewis, Charles Wiliams and others and their group was called the Inklings.
In 1971 the beloved wife of Tolkien, Edith, died. Despite the family tragedy he still sacrificed to his work. One year later he gained the title of the doctor honoris causa of the University of Oxford. Unfortunately, on 2 September 1973, John Ronald Ruel Tolkien died after a short illness. On his and his wife's grave they incised the names of Beren and Luthien - the symbols of ideal love from the history of Middle-earth. The writer's son, Cristopher Tolkien, completed and published father's life work - "Silmarillion", as well as other books such as "The Unfinished Tales" or "The Book of Lost Tales". In 1997 "The Lord of the Rings" was proclaimed the Best Book of All Time in Great Britain.
Books by J.R.R. Tolkien: