Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Did You Know...J.R.R. Tolkien

I was thinking of something to post last night and I realized that it's been a while since I wrote a Did You So, guess what I'm posting today? You've got it--Did You Know!

I'm surprised that I haven't done this one yet. J.R.R. Tolkien is my all-time favorite author. I know all sorts of things about him and his two most popular books--The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Do you? Let's find out!

Did You Know...

  • That Tolkien was born in 1892 in South Africa? His father had accepted a job there as a bank manager.
  • That Tolkien's father died when he was three and his mother died when he was 12?
  • By the end of World War I all but one of his closest friends was dead? The war had a profound affect upon Tolkien that would surface in his writing (such as in his description of the Dead Marshes).
  • His father was Catholic and his mother converted to Catholicism? Tolkien was a staunch Catholic all his life, somewhat of a trial in England, and this affected his writing as well.
  • Tolkien distrusted machines in general and cars in particular? Whenever possible, he rode his bicycle. He thought the world was being overwhelmed by machines and loved the green, peaceful English countryside.
  • He fell in love with his future wife, Edith Bratt, when he was 16, but was forbidden by his guardian to communicate with her until he was  because Edith was Protestant? He kept his promise. On his 21st birthday, he wrote to Edith asking her to marry him. She was engaged to be married to someone else, but cancelled that engagement, converted to Catholicism, and married Tolkien. They were married over 50 years.
  • He did the illustrations for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings himself? Although he downplayed his artistic skills, he was better than most and his publisher, much to his surprise, agreed to use his illustrations.
  • Tolkien's devout faith was a major reason than his friend and fellow author C.S. Lewis converted from atheism to Christianity? Lewis chose the Church of England over Catholicism, which dismayed Tolkien to some extent, but I believe he got over it.
  • The Lord of the Rings was intended to be a children's story, like The Hobbit before it, but became darker as the writing progressed? It touched more on the myths and legends of Middle Earth that Tolkien had been working on for years. This was Tolkien's true love and would be published posthumously by his son Christopher as The Silmarillion. 
  • The Silmarillion was Tolkien's attempt to write a distinctly British mythology? The lack of a truly British mythology was a gap that Tolkien tried to fill through the history of The Silmarillion and his poetry.
  • The Lord of the Rings took more than ten years to write? As Tolkien so aptly said in the forward, "The tale grew in the telling."
  • Tolkien was a professor of languages and knew 13 languages including Latin, French, German, Middle English, Old English, Greek, Italian and Welsh? He had a working knowledge of eight others? He also developed his own Elvish languages; Quenya and Sindarin.
  • Tolkien died on September 2, 1973 at the age of 81? He was buried in the same grave with his wife Edith who had passed away 21 months earlier.
  • Tolkien's translation of Beowulf and a transcript of a paper he delivered on the ancient poem was published this week (no, I am not receiving money from the Tolkien estate!)?

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