John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892-1973) was born on this day in Bloemfontein, South Africa and is best known for creating the fantasy worlds of The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings trilogy (1954-55).
"Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens," he wrote in The Lord of the Rings.
An Oxford professor of medieval literature, Tolkien masterfully crafted the Middle-Earth adventures of furry-footed Bilbo Baggins and his nephew Frodo.
The writer created a mythical world of elves, dwarfs, gods, and dragons, based somewhat on Anglo-Saxon and Norse folklore. His driving passion was to create his "fairy stories" so complete in detail, philosophy, and character to be "real."
A perfectionist who revised, corrected, and improved, he worked on The Lord of the Rings (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King) for over 10 years.
At first the beloved trilogy was refused by publishers. Poet W. H. Auden responded to Tolkien's critics, warning, "If someone dislikes it I shall never trust their literary judgment about anything again."
Tolkien acknowledged those who claimed his writing was difficult to understand and explained, "I am told that I talk in shorthand and then smudge it."
The Lord of the Rings inspired Peter Jackson's film adaptations, which paid loving tribute to Tolkien's vision. According to the UK Guardian, by January 2013, The Fellowship of the Rings (2001), The Two Towers (2002), and The Return of the King (2003) "had raked in $2.91bn in global ticket sales."
“If more of us valued food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a much merrier world," said Tolkien, who today is one of the world's best-known novelist.
The Tolkien Society continues to celebrate their muse. Each year on this day "at 21:00 (9 pm) your local time," they invite fans to raise a glass and toast "The Professor."
...It was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort...