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Thursday Thirteen #24
For this week’s Thursday Thirteen I decided to look at one of the best authors in the English language: J. R. R. Tolkien. Mind you, he’s also the best author in Elvish. Do you know any more fun Tolkien facts?

13 Facts About J. R. R. Tolkien
1. Tolkien’s full name is John Ronald Reuel Tolkien.

2. He was born January 3, 1892 in Bloemfontein, South Africa.

3. Three of the first languages that Tolkien worked on as a child were Animalic (he explored this one with friends, and did not actually invent it himself), Nevbosh (meaning “new nonsense,” Tolkien helped to construct it and enjoyed conversing with his friends in it), and Naffarin (the first language he worked on alone at age eight or nine.)

4. By 1904, Tolkien and his brother were orphans. His father (Arthur) died of rheumatic fever in February of 1896. Mabel, their mother, died of complications from diabetes on 14 November 1904.

5. Tolkien met Edith Bratt about four years after his mother died. They lived in the same lodging house. She was three years older than Tolkien, but they gradually fell in love. Actually, Tolkien adored her. Unfortunately, his guardian felt that she was distracting him from his studies, and that at eighteen he was too young to marry. Tolkien agreed to not see her for three years, and she moved away to stay with friends. At midnight on the day he turned twenty-one Tolkien wrote to Edith asking when he could see her again. When he learned that she had become engaged to marry another man he boarded a train and went to convince her to marry him instead. Needless to say, he was successful.

6. At one point during his first semester at Oxford, Tolkien stole a city bus as a prank, and took his friends on a joyride.

7. Tolkien fought in World War I and lost all but one of his childhood friends there.

8. In 1918, Tolkien was hired to work on what was to become the Oxford English Dictionary. Started in 1879, by the time Tolkien joined the team they had finally reached the “W”s.

9. Tolkien earned a professorship at Oxford in 1925. (Very few of the faculty actually had a “professorship” at that time. A high honor indeed.)

10. Tolkien’s four children were the ultimate inspiration for his fiction writing. Can you imagine the sorts of bedtime stories that they got to hear?

11. Tolkien was a big fan of clubs. Two of the clubs he was a member of at Oxford were the “Coalbiters” and “The Inklings.” C.S. Lewis was one of the members of The Inklings.

12. Rayner Unwin, age ten at the time, is the one who judged The Hobbit worthy of publishing. He was paid a shilling for his review. (For the record, his father, Sir Stanley Unwin, was the director of publisher George Allen & Unwin at that point.)

13. When Tolkien’s son Michael entered the army he listed his father’s profession on his paperwork as “Wizard.” It would seem that Michael really understood his father.

Sources:
Biography Resource Center Database
J. R. R. Tolkien: Creator of Languages and Legends by Doris Lynch

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