The creator of Middle-earth, J.R.R. Tolkien, wasn’t just a master weaver of tales; he was also a man of great depth and integrity. His life, filled with unique anecdotes and profound choices, is as engaging as his novels.
Here’s a peek into seven lesser-known moments from Tolkien’s life.
1. A Brave Response to Dark Times: When the Nazis hinted at releasing “The Hobbit” in German, they asked Tolkien to verify his Aryan background. Tolkien’s reply was both insightful and defiant. He enlightened them about the Aryan origins and poignantly expressed his wish that he had roots in the Jewish community, effectively shutting down any racial biases.
“I am not of Aryan extraction: that is Indo-Iranian; as far as I am aware none of my ancestors spoke Hindustani, Persian, Gypsy, or any related dialects. But if I am to understand that you are enquiring whether I am of Jewish origin, I can only reply that I regret that I appear to have no ancestors of that gifted people.”
2. A Unique Ashtray: Tolkien received an ornate goblet from an admirer, etched with the iconic “One Ring to Rule Them All…” in the black speech. Valuing the authenticity of the language, Tolkien decided against using it for drinking. Instead, it found its place as a holder for ash.
3. Birth of a Classic: While marking student papers, a blank page caught Tolkien’s eye. It was on this empty sheet that he penned the simple yet evocative line: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit,” giving birth to a beloved narrative.
4. Missed Accolade: Tolkien’s literary brilliance wasn’t always universally acknowledged. In 1961, the Nobel Committee overlooked him for the Literature prize, citing concerns about his storytelling techniques.
5. Echoes from the Battlefront: Tolkien’s tenure as a Lieutenant during World War I, especially his time in The Battle of the Somme, had a deep impact. Many believe the harrowing sights of warfare influenced his portrayal of the desolate lands of Mordor.
6. The Beatles’ Dream: Imagine a world where The Beatles adapted “The Lord of the Rings” for the big screen! They even thought of roles – Lennon as Gollum and McCartney as Frodo. However, Tolkien didn’t share this dream and declined their request for rights.
7. Journey Beyond Middle-earth: Tolkien’s creative pursuits weren’t limited to hobbits and elves. He once began drafting a story, “The Lost Road,” weaving time-travel elements that aimed to connect Middle-earth to modern days.