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Born in 1892 in South Africa, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was an English writer best known for his fantasy work The Lord of the Rings. Together with The Silmarillion and The Hobbit, a connected body of work about a fantasy world was launched and it is these works that he is still renowned for today.  

Following the death of his father, Tolkien spent his childhood in a Worcestershire village from where he explored the Malvern Hills which inspired some of the scenes in his later books. His Aunt had a farm called Bag End which readers familiar with Tolkien will recognise immediately as the home of the Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins.

At the age of twenty one Tolkien married Edith, a girl he had known since he was sixteen, and they went on to have four children. He served in the First World War but was eventually invalided in 1916 and on his return to England he started to write The Book of Lost Tales, beginning with The Fall of Gondolin. After the war he worked at the Oxford English Dictionary and in 1920 became Reader in English Language at the University of Leeds. In 1925 he was working at Pembroke College, Oxford where he wrote The Hobbit and the first two versions of The Lord of the Rings.

Following his retirement in 1959 Tolkien’s popularity increased, particularly in America, as the hippie and anti war counter culture of the 1960’s found parallels in his fantasy works. 

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