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J.R.R. Tolkien is the author of the epic trilogy The Lord of the Rings which has been called the most popular and beloved book of the 20th century. It reached an even wider audience in 2001 when the first LOTR movie was released.
Did you know Tolkien didn't plan to write The Lord of the Rings? This epic story took a long time to unfold. In 1916, young Tolkien entered World War I and participated in the bloody battle of the Somme. This experience pushed him to express his feelings about good and evil. While staying in hospital, he began writing stories about Middle-Earth — the fictional setting for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Tolkien had a passion for languages and mythology. He studied Latin, ancient Greek, Old English and Old Norse, and some other languages, and invented over a dozen ‘fictional’ languages of his own. Two of those languages, Quenya and Sindarin, were inspired by Finnish and Welsh respectively, and were highly developed. Curious fact: Tolkien started creating Middle-Earth as a setting for his constructed languages, not the other way around.
Tolkien wasn’t a professional writer: he worked as an Oxford professor of language and literature. In his free time, he amused himself and his four children creating stories about Middle-Earth. The Hobbit started as a bedtime story for his kids, and it would have never been published but for his friend C.S. Lewis (author of The Chronicles of Narnia) who convinced Tolkien to publish his work.
When The Hobbit was published in 1937 and gained impressive success, the publisher asked Tolkien to write a sequel. People demanded more stories about hobbits.
It took Tolkien quite a while to figure out how to continue the story about hobbits. Little by little, the plot started taking shape, with the center of the plot being the One Ring and its evil creator, Sauron. The Lord of the Rings took Tolkien a full 12 years to write, and another 5 years to get published. The author kept rewriting parts of the story and adding details to his carefully developed world until his death in 1973.