Sunday, September 1, 2013

Bio of J. R. R. Tolkien - This Week in Christian History for the week of September 1-7

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3rd 1892 in what would become South Africa. When he was a child he was bitten by a spider, which some speculate influenced his later works. After the death of his father, his family moved back to England where they moved around a lot. His mother, Mabel, joined the Catholic Church, much to the dismay of her Baptist family, who stopped supporting her and J. R. R..

Mabel died in 1904 when J. R. R. was only 12. He was raised by Father Morgan. He graduated with honors from Exeter College with an emphasis on English and Literature. Tolkien met Edith, a protestant woman, whom his guardian vehemently objected to and forbade him to see her until he was 21. On turning 21 he professed his love, and they were married after she converted to Catholicism.

Tolkien joined the army after the outbreak of WWI, serving in trenches. His considerable health problems kept him from being in the field much of the time, and this probably saved his life. He wrote that all of his childhood friends but one had been killed. After the war he worked for The Oxford English Dictionary and then became a professor. It was while he was serving as a fellow at Pembroke College that he wrote “The Hobbit” and the first part of “The Lord of the Rings.” It took a few years to catch on and it was during the 60’s that he became wildly popular.

Tolkien was instrumental in converting C.S. Lewis to the Christian faith, although he was disappointed Lewis chose to join the Church of England. He was also a member of the Inklings, a literary group which had Christian tendencies. While Tolkien didn’t use the overt Christian themes that Lewis employed, the Bible influenced some of the scenes in his stories. Tolkien died on September 2, 1973.

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Thank you for reading.