JRR Tolkien Biography WHAT?!?!? Hillary is a boy’s name?!`?!? Full Name: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien EARLY LIFE: • Born January 3, 1892 in Bloemfontein, Orange Free State, • South Africa, where he lived until he was 3. • His father, Arthur Reuel Tolkien, was a bank • clerk and had moved to South Africa in the • 1890s for better prospects of promotion within • the bank. • His mother was Mabel Suffield Tolkien. • His memories of Africa were slight but vivid, • including a scary encounter with a large hairy • spider, and somewhat influenced his writing. • In February 1896, his father died and he, his • mother, and his younger brother Hilary returned • to England.
Tolkien studied at home on the edge of Hall Green, Birmingham and learned • Latin from his mother. • Tolkien’s mother converted to Catholicism and they were estranged from the • rest of the family. • Mabel was diagnosed with diabetes (incurable at the time) and died in 1904, • leaving Tolkien and his brother as orphans. EDUCATION: • At age 12, Tolkien became a ward of a • Catholic priest (Father Francis), and lived in • a series of temporary arrangements and • attended King Edward VI’s school in • Birmingham, where he mastered legend, • literature, and language. He became • fascinated by fantasy, folk, and mythology, • and began to create an orderly mythology out • of the fragmented English past (as seen in the • Arthur legends, Sir Gawain, Beowulf and • other Anglo-Saxon, and Medieval literature).
2. Tolkien mastered Latin and Greek and became competent in a number of other languages ancient and modern, including Gothic, and Finnish. He began making up his own languages purely for fun. 3. At King Edward’s School, he made a number of close literary friends and they formed “TCBC—Tea Club Barrovian Society” named after their meeting place (Barrow Stores) where they would exchange writings & discuss literature. • While living in a boarding house run by Mrs. Faulkner, JRR Tolkien met and befriended Edith Bratt. At the time, she was 19, and he was 16. • Father Francis saw their relationship blossoming, and forbid Tolkien to see her • until he was 21. Tolkien obeyed this order to the letter. • He attended Exeter College, Oxford in 1911 and studied the Classics, Old • English, the Germanic languages, Welsh and Finnish. • He resumed his relationship with Edith in 1913, and earned a B.A. in 1915. • He earned an M.A. in 1919. • 8. He and Edith married in 1916. • Tolkien taught and published great Anglo-Saxon and Medieval Literature, • such as Beowulf, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Did I hear someone mention tea?
WORLD WAR I • For the next three years, Tolkien served on the front lines in France with the • Lancashire Fusiliers and was discharged with “trench fever,” which was a type • of typhus-like infection common in many unsanitary conditions, he spent the • next month in the hospital recovering. • During these months, all but one of his friends • from the TCBS was killed in action, prompting • him to begin crafting a story (Book of Lost • Tales) which eventually became the basis for the • Lord of the Rings, Silmarillion, and • The Hobbit. He began to write about the • tales of gnomes, elves, along with their • languages.
THE HOBBIT is a prequel to the LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy and it follows the adventures of FRODO’s uncle BILBO BAGGINS as he goes on a quest for a dragon’s treasure with a bunch of DWARVES and the wizard GANDALF. It is during this adventure that BILBO discovers the ring of power while in a cave with GOLLUM.
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit…” • The Hobbit was originally published in 1937. He decided to make up a story • to answer the above statement that he had written on a blank page in a • student’s exam that he was grading. • Originally told orally to his children (who loved it) and a manuscript eventually • landed in the hands of a publisher who asked him to finish the story. • The Hobbit was an immediate success. • Tolkien became friends with many other writers of • his day, particularly C.S. Lewis, a fellow Christian • and fantasy writer • JRR Tolkien was asked to write something similar to • The Hobbit, and came up with Silmarillion, but the • publisher felt that this was not commercially viable • and urged Tolkien to write The Hobbit 2. • The Lord of the Rings series became the sequels to • The Hobbit as the story of the ring evolved into a • much larger story than even Bilbo Baggins’ original • adventure.
Tolkien was humbled and grateful for the success of his books (The Hobbit, • Fellowship of the Ring, Two Towers, Return of the King) but he was deeply • troubled that the fans of the books so closely associated the books with drug • use in the 60s (LSD was the drug of choice). Fans, high on drugs would call • Tolkien in the middle of the night to try to discuss Frodo and his adventures • with him. Eventually he began to seclude himself somewhat from society to • avoid all of the obsessive fans. • Tolkien continued to be a lecturer/professor on • Medieval and Anglo-Saxon literature at Oxford • University, and he died on September 2, 1973.
KEY FACTS ABOUT THE HOBBIT: Narrator: The narrator is very playful and humorous, making the story easier to read. Setting: The Third Age of Middle-Earth, 2941-2942 Begins the story of the ring of power, the central point about which the Lord of the Rings books revolves around.
ARCHETYPES • UNLIKELY HERO—The Hobbit is first and foremost, the story of Bilbo • Baggins and his becoming an unlikely hero. The story is filled with events that • build Bilbo and draw out his inner character. Gandalf makes a claim early in • the book that, “there is more to the little hobbit than meet the eye.” The major • theme of all of Tolkien’s books is that heroes come in all shapes and sizes. As • such, he uses the “unlikely hero/anti-hero, unexpected hero” archetype to • define Bilbo. Bilbo’s inner character emerges when he is under pressure. OTHER UNLIKELY HEROES:
ARCHETYPES • SAGE—Gandalf represents the archetype of the sage. The sage is the • mentor of the hero. Sages are typically mysterious, old, powerful and wise. • They often appear in the story to start the hero’s journey and training. WHERE MY SAGES AT?
ARCHETYPES • SOCIAL OUTCAST--Gollum represents the social outcast of the story. • Social outcasts are often shunned by society. They live in the wilderness apart • from society. They don’t really fit in with any group and are often a wild card in • terms of what role they will play in the storyline—occasionally aligning with one • side only to flip to join the other side when the moment is right. SOCIAL OUTCASTS
1. THE HERO’S JOURNEY--the hero’s journey is the framework for the • story. A hero must go on a journey, face trials along the way, and accomplish • some great task. Bilbo’s journey is to the Lonely Mountain to help the dwarves • recover their gold. His quest is to outsmart or defeat the dragon and serve as • their burglar • 2. Race/Lineage/Character—the differences between the various races in the • novel are a major focus of the novel (dwarves, elves, hobbits, wizards, trolls, etc). • The characters begin to learn to appreciate the differences in each other and • work together for the common good. • Medieval/Anglo-Saxon Literature—Tolkien had a deep love for the old myths • and fantasy stories from the Anglo-Saxons and the Medieval time period. • Tolkien’s great love of these stories, particularly Beowulf, and Sir Gawain • and the Green Knight, led to his desire to seeing this type of literature • become popular again. Many of his character types and plot devices come • directly from Beowulf and Sir Gawain and various other Anglo-Saxon and • Medieval myths and legends. (epic story, test of hero, mythological/ • supernatural characters, distant time and place, swords and wizards, dragons, • good vs. evil, etc.)
Storytelling—Tolkien did not like allegories and had a love for storytelling. • He wanted to tell a grand epic that the reader could enjoy. He did have • influences and themes, but he didn’t want to preach, but rather sought to • entertain in an enlightening way. • Language—Tolkien’s tremendous linguistic skills led him to create whole • languages for his characters (elvish, etc.) His love of language also led to the • style of his writing. • Christianity—Tolkien was well-known for being a Christian intellectual, and he • and his friend C.S. Lewis sought to create great works of myth/folklore that • would carry with them the great themes and messages of Christian theology. • (temptation of the ring/sin to all characters, good vs. evil, all-powerful being, • angelic-type characters (Gandalf, elves) that can fall into darkness • (Saruman, orcs) and the humility with which Frodo undertakes his quest to • destroy the ring and save Middle-Earth, which makes him a somewhat • Christ-like character.) • Good Vs. Evil—Tolkien’s writing has a pretty strong focus on the cosmic • struggle between good and evil working within society, individuals, and in the • world (nature) itself. The innocence of the Hobbits mirrors a purity or • goodness that contrasts with the darker more sinister characters of the story.
The Road Goes Ever On and On…