“J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography,” by Humphrey Carpenter, published June 2000. I’m not usually one to read non-fiction for pleasure, but I’m in the process of reading this for the third time. Mainly because it is about Tolkien and I’m fascinated with him and his work, but it helps that the book is very well written. It also probably helps that I have a rather extensive knowledge of Tolkien’s work (everything from the Silmarillion to Roverandom), which are mentioned throughout the book.
Carpenter begins with a history of Tolkien’s family and his early childhood and provides a basic analysis of how the events of his childhood influenced the rest of his life. He then chronicles Tolkien’s teenage years, his time at Oxford, his role during the First World War and marriage. Once the war is over, Tolkien finishes his education and begins his career as an academic. We get a glimpse into what a typically day was like for the professor and his family and are introduced to Tolkien’s friends, such as C.S. Lewis. Much of the book is dedicated to understand Tolkien’s work – specifically, the mythology of the Silmarillion, the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings.
I can’t even begin to describe how fascinated I am with Tolkien and his work. I think it is the depth of his stories and the meaning in them. He began to create a mythical language when he was a teenage, which eventually evolved into the Lord of the Rings, about 50 years later. It really was his life’s work. I think I have also been heavily influenced by him – his love of nature, hatred of industrialization and his love of stories.
In 1973, Professor Tolkien sailed into the west to join his beloved Luthian, never to return.
“It simply isn’t and adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.”