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10 Things You Might Not Know About Tolkien

By January 3, 2016January 2nd, 2019Authors

We all know about J.R.R Tolkien the author of the ultimate guide to walking and what to do with a ring that isn’t yours but what was he really like?

Here are 10 fascinating factoids that may surprise you.

He never saw himself as an author.

Writing novels was merely a hobby for Tolkien, he never gave up his day job and considered his scholarly works of much greater importance than his fantasy novels.

Tolkien was a devout Catholic.

To the point in fact that he all but ended his close friendship with C.S Lewis over his relationship with a divorcee with Tolkien believed was unchristian. After C.S Lewis died, Tolkien wrote in a letter to his daughter that “So far I have felt . . . like an old tree that is losing all its leaves one by one: this feels like an axe-blow near the roots.”

He wasn’t overly polite about his fans.

To the point that he considered many of them to be lunatics. He would be mortified by those fans who choose to show their appreciation of his works by Cosplaying as their favourite character.

He invented more than 14 languages.

Tolkien was fascinated with linguistics from an early age and was always making up new ones.

He was a Hobbit in all but height and home.

“I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees, and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late (when possible). I do not travel much.”

He hated motor cars.

 J.R.R Tolkien was famous for his extreme dislike of cars although he did purchase a Morris Cowley in 1932 nicknaming it “Jo” after the first two letters on its registration. 

On a visit to his sister, he got two punctures and managed to knock down part of a wall and a months later, he charged down a busy street on Oxford in order to get to the side street ignoring all other vehicles and screaming “Charge ‘em and they Scatter”. 

One can only hope they did exactly that!

It took Tolkien over 14 years to write The Lord of the Rings.

Not because he found it hard to write but because he was a particularly awful typist. The 1,200 pages were picked out using just two fingers and probably an awful lot of crossings out!

Frodo is not the hero.

On the journey to Mordor, Frodo is joined by his gardener, Samwise Gamgee. Throughout the course of the story, it might seem obvious that the main character and carrier of the ring is the story’s hero. J. R. R. Tolkien, the author, saw things differently though. Tolkien claimed that Sam was the true hero of the story.

He was a bit of prankster.

He went to parties dressed as a polar bear, chased a neighbor dressed as an axe wielding Anglo-Saxon warrior and was known to hand shopkeepers his false teeth as payment. As one of his students put it, “He could turn a lecture room into a mead hall.”

He was an old romantic.

He met his wife when he was just 16 and she was 19, despite being forced apart by his guardians of the time, Tolkien pursued his Edith and eventually married her. They are buried together in a single grave in Oxford, together forever.

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He sounds like he was a thoroughly decent and somewhat humorous chap. I hope you found out something you weren’t already aware of and if you know something we don’t, let us know in the comments.

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  • Kathy says:

    I’ve always thought Sam Wise was the hero and not Frodo! Nice to know that Tolkien felt the same.

  • Jo Michie says:

    J R R Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein a small city in the heart of South Africa.

  • silvs says:

    i think i heard somewhere (the making of the lotr -movie franchise) that he also fought or at least was aware of the world wars and that he detested the machinery used for mass distruction. the bad side in the books is maybe based on that – the masiveness and the factory like setting in saruman’s lair.

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