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25th Mar 2013

Celebrating Tolkien Reading Day: 10 Facts About The Man Who Brought Us The Hobbit

Will you be cracking open a copy of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings today?


If you have yet to read The Lord of The Rings why not sit down with your copy this evening? Today, March 25th, marks Tolkien Reading Day – an annual event launched by the Tolkien Society to encourage readers to get reacquainted with J.R.R. and his amazing collection of books.

Even if you’ve never read any of Tolkien’s work, chances are you’re familiar with him. He’s the man who brought us The Hobbit, The Lord of The Rings trilogy and The Silmarillion. He was BFFs with C.S. Lewis, he created his own languages and, believe it or not, he has a strong link with our very own University College Dublin.

To celebrate Tolkien Reading Day we thought it would be fun (and educational!) to share ten facts about the infamous J.R.R. Tolkien. (You get a gold star if you already know why Tolkien Reading Day is held on March 25th…)


10 Facts About J.R.R. Tolkien

Without Tolkien we wouldn’t have these amazing books

1. He was a genius from a young age: When he was a child, Tolkien started to create languages. The first was Animalic, a language he invented with his friends. The second was Nevbosh (which means ‘new nonsense’) and the third was Naffarin, a language he made up completely by himself at the age of eight.

2. He was a bit of a hellraiser back in the day: During his first semester at Oxford, Tolkien stole a city bus as a prank and went on a joyride with his friends.

3. His children adored him: Tolkien had four children and when his son, Michael, decided to join the army he listed his father’s profession on his paperwork as “wizard.”

4. He was an amazing lecturer: While lecturing at Oxford, Tolkien was known for his ‘dramatic flair.’ He’d regularly start his classes by running into the lecture hall wearing chain mail armour and bellowing the opening lines of Beowulf at the top of his lungs.

Tolkien was frustrated that people didn’t appreciate his scholarly work

5. He wasn’t a fan of his hobbits: Tolkien always saw himself as a scholar first and a writer second. It is said that he was always slightly miffed about the fact that his scholarly works went unnoticed by the public, who only cared about his fantasy novels.

6. He help to create the Oxford English Dictionary: In 1918 Tolkien was hired to work on the now-famous reference book. By the time he joined the team, they had reached the letter ‘W.’

7. He hated cars: Tolkien was known for his extreme dislike of cars. However, he did buy one in 1932. It was called ‘Jo’ and he was known for charging down busy streets, ignoring other cars and yelling: “Charge ‘em and they scatter!”

Tolkien’s grave

8. He has a romantic streak: When he was 16 he fell in love with Edith Bratt (a woman three years his senior). His guardian at the time (a Catholic priest) was horrified that he was seeing a Protestant and banned him from having contact with her. Tolkien obeyed but pined after Edith for four years until he had a secret meeting with her. She broke off her engagement with another man, converted to Catholicism and married Tolkien. Their shared gravestone has the names “Beren” and “Luthien” engraved on it – a reference to a famous pair of star-crossed lovers that he created in his writings.

9. He worked for UCD: Yes, believe it or not, J.R.R. worked as an external examiner for UCD for many, many years. We wonder how many students recieved a: ‘YOU SHALL NOT PASS!’ grade on their exams? Oh and we have it on good authority that Tolkien is also the reason why The Canterbury Tales by Chaucer is still taught at the university.

10. March 25th is Tolkien Reading Day because… In The Lord of The Rings, March 25th is the day that marks the fall of Sauron.