10 Fascinating Facts About J.R.R.Tolkien

“All that glitters is not gold.”

John Tolkien

On this day in September, 1973, at the ripe old age of 81, J.R.R.Tolkien passed away. While he’s perhaps best known among nerdier circles for his fantasy novels (The Hobbit, The Fellowship of the Ring, and The Silmarillion to name three), Tolkien was also a soldier, poet, philologist, and professor. He was a man of boundless talents, and an inspiration to many. The following are 10 other fascinating facts about J.R.R.Tolkien to help celebrate his legacy.

  1. Tolkien enjoyed creating his own languages ‘for fun’. The first was Naffarin. However, his most developed were the Elvish languages that later appeared in his fantasy epics. The languages are Sarati, Tengwar, and Cirth. He started constructing these languages in 1910-1911 and worked on further developing them until his death in 1973.

  2. Tolkien was a professor at Oxford from 1925- 1959.

  3. Tolkien and C.S.Lewis, the author of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, were total bros.

  4. In fact, they were such bros that C.S.Lewis based the protagonist of his space trilogy on Tolkien.

  5. Together, Tolkien and Lewis joined The Inklings, a literary discussion group associated with the University of Oxford, England. Members would meet at the The Eagle and Child/Bird and Baby pub on Tuesday mornings during the term.

  6. Tolkien thought that ‘cellar door’ was one of the most beautiful-sounding phrases in the English language. Kinda makes you wonder how he’d feel about ‘on fleek’.

  7. The Hobbit began as a term paper.

  8. A signed first edition of The Hobbit once sold for $85,000 at auction.

  9. “You shall not pass” was actually an allusion to a WWII propaganda slogan.

  10. Christopher Lee, the actor who played Saruman the White in The Lord of the Rings films, was the only actor in the series to actually have met J.R.R.Tolkien. “[I met him] quite by chance, really,” he recalled in the interview. “I met him with a group of other people in a pub in Oxford he used to go to, The Eagle and Child. I was very much in awe of him, as you can imagine, so I just said, ‘How do you do?’”

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