Marquette University bought the original manuscripts and multiple working drafts of “The Hobbit” and “Lord of the Rings” from J.R.R. Tolkien for only 1,500 pounds (less than $5,000) in 1956. At the time, no other institution had expressed an interest in Tolkien’s literary manuscripts.
C.S. Lewis nominated J.R.R. Tolkien for the 1961 Nobel Prize for Literature. He was rejected on the grounds that his writing “has not in any way measured up to storytelling of the highest quality.”
J. R. R. Tolkien began work on The Hobbit one day early in the 1930s, when he was marking School papers. He found a blank page. Suddenly inspired, he wrote the words, “In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.”
J.R.R. Tolkien had been known to (as a practical joke) dress up as an axe-wielding Anglo-Saxon warrior and chase his neighbor down the street.
Tolkien developed a secret code with his wife in WW1, strictly illegal, so that she could track his progress on the map.
J. R. R. Tolkien might have gotten the idea for a ring that makes its wearer invisible from an ancient, Greek story told by one of Plato’s students about a shepherd discovering such a ring on a cadaver in a cave, and then using it to kill his king.
The word “hobbit” has been found exactly once in texts predating Tolkien, in a list of magical creatures with no explanation or context.
While attending Oxford, J.R.R. Tolkien once stole a city bus and took his friends on a joy ride.
J.R.R. Tolkien opposed holding Catholic mass in English – to the extent that he loudly responded in Latin whenever priests spoke the liturgy in English.