Monday, September 2, 2013

On this day: Tolkien departs Middle Earth (1973)

J.R.R. Tolkien, Oxford scholar of mediaeval English, died on 2nd September 1973, aged 81. He will be remembered for the story he wrote for his children about the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, a furry-footed hobbit who lived in a burrow in the Shire, a bucolic idyll of Anglo-Saxon Britain. The tale grew into a saga of warriors and wizards, elves, demons, trolls and goblins locked in an awesome struggle of good and evil, with the fate of Middle Earth hanging on a lost ring - the ring of the chillingly evil dark lord Sauron.

Tolkien published his Lord of the Rings in 1955, but it was not until the 1960s that anybody really noticed the book. The otherworldly Tolkien suddenly found himself the revered guru of a whole generation of flower children, their psychedelic idyll threatened by the evil lord Nixon and military industrial complex. Tolkien cared little - he was scarcely aware of the modern world outside of his imagination. Other books include the Hobbit, and the rings saga continues in the Silmarillion, to be publish posthumously.

Other fiction books by Tolkien:

1936 Songs for the Philologists, with E.V. Gordon et al.
1937 The Hobbit or There and Back Again,
1945 The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun, published in Welsh Review
1949 Farmer Giles of Ham (medieval fable)
1953 The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son (a play written in alliterative verse), published with the accompanying essays Beorhtnoth's Death and Ofermod, in Essays and Studies by members of the English Association, volume 6.
The Lord of the Rings
1954 The Fellowship of the Ring: being the first volume of The Lord of the Rings
1954 The Two Towers: being the second volume of The Lord of the Rings
1955 The Return of the King: being the third volume of The Lord of the Rings
1962 The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book
1964 Tree and Leaf (On Fairy-Stories and Leaf by Niggle in book form)
1966 Bilbo's Last Song (poem)
1966 The Tolkien Reader (The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son, On Fairy-Stories, Leaf by Niggle, Farmer Giles of Ham, and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil)
1967 The Road Goes Ever On, with Donald Swann
1967 Smith of Wootton Major (short story)

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