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J. R. R. Tolkien
The Tolkien Family Tree
Main article: J. R. R. Tolkien
He was a devout Roman Catholic.
Much of Tolkien’s published fiction is a connected body of tales, fictional histories, invented languages, and literary essays about an imagined world called Arda, and Middle-earth (derived from the Old English word middangeard, the lands inhabitable by humans) in particular, loosely identified as an “alternative” remote past of our own world. Tolkien applied the word legendarium to the totality of these writings. Most of the “legendarium” was edited and posthumously published by his son Christopher.
While Tolkien was preceded by other fantasy authors, his enduringly popular and successful works have had a remarkable influence on the genre. Thus he has been popularly identified as the “father of modern fantasy literature”, or to be precise, high fantasy. L. Sprague de Camp and others consider him the father of modern fantasy together with sword and sorcery author Robert E. Howard (creator of Conan the Barbarian).
Arthur Reuel Tolkien (c. February 1857—15 February 1896), the father of author J.R.R. Tolkien, was born in Handsworth, Staffordshire, England. He was the eldest child of John Benjamin Tolkien and Mary Jane Stowe, who had married on 16 February 1856 in All Saints Parish Church, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England.
Arthur had 6 siblings:
- Mabel Tolkien (1858–1937), who married Thomas Evans Mitton;
- Grace Bindley Tolkien (b. 1861), who married William Charles Mountain;
- Florence Mary Tolkien (b. 1863), who married Tom Hadley;
- Marian Esther Tolkien (1866–1934), who married Frederick William Chippendale;
- Wilfred Henry Tolkien (1870–1938), a stockbroker, who married Katherine Madeleine Green; and
- Lawrence George H. Tolkien (b. 1873), a life and fire insurance secretary, who married (Emily) Grace McGregor.
Arthur’s father John had previously been married to Jane Holmwood, with whom he had four children: Emily (b. 1838), Louisa (b. 1840), John Benjamin (b. 1845), and Jane (b. 1846).
John Benjamin Tolkien had been a piano teacher and tuner, as well as a music seller, but he had gone bankrupt in 1877, when he was described as “John Benjamin Tolkien, of High-street, Birmingham, in the county of Warwick, Pianoforte and Music Seller”. Arthur did not follow his father into the traditional Tolkien trade in pianos, which many of his London cousins also followed; instead he became a bank clerk and ended up moving to Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State (now part of South Africa), where he became manager of the Bloemfontein branch of the Bank of Africa. A furniture shop now occupies the Bradlow’s Building on the site where the bank once stood, on the corner of West Burger and Maitland Streets.
Arthur was later joined by his fiancée, Mabel Suffield. They were married on 16 April 1891 at the Cape Town Cathedral, South Africa. Two children (John Ronald Reuel (b. 1892) and Hilary Arthur Reuel (b. 1894) followed, and the family lived next door to the bank.
Mabel Tolkien felt the English climate would be better for the boys’ health and returned to England with them in 1895. Arthur remained in South Africa, where he died of severe haemorrhage following rheumatic fever, on 15 February 1896, before he had the opportunity to join his family in England.
He is buried in President Brand Cemetery, on the corner of Church and Rhodes Avenues, Bloemfontein.
Mabel Tolkien, born Suffield (1870– 14 November 1904) was the mother of J. R. R. Tolkien.
Her parents, John Suffield and Emily Jane Sparrow, lived in Stirling Road, Birmingham and owned a shop in the city centre. The Suffield family had a business in a building called Lamb House since 1812. From 1812 William Suffield ran a book and stationery shop there; Tolkien’s great-grandfather, also John Suffield, was there from 1826 with a drapery and hosiery business.
Her husband Arthur Tolkien’s death in South Africa in 1896 left her and their two young sons without a source of income. At first, they lived with her parents in Birmingham, then moved to Sarehole (now in Hall Green), then a Worcestershire village, later annexed to Birmingham.
Mabel tutored her two sons, and J. R. R. (or Ronald, as he was known in the family) was a keen pupil. She taught him a great deal of botany, and she awakened in her son the enjoyment of the look and feel of plants. But his favourite lessons were those concerning languages, and his mother taught him the rudiments of Latin very early. She also taught him how to write, and her ornate script influenced her son’s handwriting in his later life.
Mabel Tolkien converted to Roman Catholicism in 1900 despite vehement protests by her Baptist family who then stopped all financial assistance to her. She died of acute complications of diabetes in 1904 (at about 34 years of age, about as long as a person with diabetes mellitus type 1 could live with no treatment – insulin would not be discovered until two decades later), when Tolkien was twelve, at Fern Cottage in Rednal, which they were then renting. For the rest of his life Tolkien felt that she had become a martyr for her faith, which had a profound effect on his own Catholic beliefs.
Edith Mary Tolkien, born Bratt (21 January 1889 – 29 November 1971) was the wife of J. R. R. Tolkien. She served as the inspiration for his fictional character Lúthien Tinúviel, an Elven princess and the most beautiful of all the Children of Ilúvatar (the name of God in Tolkien’s fiction).
Bratt first met Tolkien in 1908, when they lived in the same boarding house. Both were orphans. The two fell in love, despite Bratt being Tolkien’s senior by three years. Before the end of 1909 the relationship became known to Tolkien’s guardian, Father Francis Xavier Morgan, who forbade Tolkien to see Bratt until he was twenty-one. With one exception, Tolkien obeyed this instruction to the letter while Father Morgan’s guardianship lasted. They were married in 1916.
The couple are buried side by side in Wolvercote Cemetery, Oxford; below the names on their grave are the names Beren and Lúthien: in Tolkien’s legendarium, Lúthien and the Man Beren were lovers separated for a time by Lúthien’s father King Thingol.
Christopher John Reuel Tolkien (born 21 November 1924) is the youngest son of J. R. R. and Edith Tolkien. He is best known as his father’s literary executor; he is the editor of much of his father’s posthumously published work. The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún (2009) is the latest example of his editorial work.
In 2001, he received some attention for his stance to New Line Cinema‘s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson. It was reported that he had had a falling out with his son Simon over the appropriateness of a film adaptation. Responding to these reports, he said he felt The Lord of the Rings was “peculiarly unsuitable for transformation into visual dramatic form”. However, this was just his opinion, he stressed; he said he did not disapprove of the movies, definitely not “to the point of thinking ill” of those whom he may disagree with.
Christopher Tolkien has been married twice. He currently lives in France with his second wife, Baillie Tolkien.
Baillie Tolkien, born Klass (born 1941) is the second wife of Christopher Tolkien.
She was born in Winnipeg, Canada. She has been married to Christopher Tolkien since 1967. They have 2 children, Adam Reuel Tolkien, born 1969, and Rachel Clare Reuel Tolkien, born 1971.
She is the editor of J. R. R. Tolkien’s Letters from Father Christmas (formerly titled The Father Christmas Letters), and she was previously J. R. R. Tolkien’s secretary.
She sits on the board of the Tolkien Company.
Michael George Reuel Tolkien (born 1943) is a British poet. He is the grandson of J. R. R. Tolkien, being the eldest son of Michael H. R. Tolkien. Michael Tolkien was educated at The Oratory School in Oxford and then Ampleforth College. He studied English at St Andrews University. He taught as Head of English at Uppingham School until 1992. He has several volumes of published poetry including “Taking Cover”, “Outstripping Gravity” and “Reaching for a Stranger.” He is published by Redbeck Press. Michael Tolkien has two daughters, Catherine, born in 1969 and Ruth, born in 1982. He is married to the artist Rosemary Walters. He sits on the board of the Tolkien Company.
Simon Mario Reuel Tolkien (born 1959) is a British barrister and novelist. He is the grandson of J. R. R. Tolkien. He is the eldest son of Christopher Tolkien, by the latter’s first wife, Faith Faulconbridge. Simon Tolkien was educated at the Dragon School in Oxford and then Downside School. He studied modern history at Trinity College, Oxford. Since 1994, he has been a barrister in London, where he lives with his wife and their two children. His first novel, The Stepmother, was published in 2003 (paperback available from Penguin Books Ltd).
Royd Allan Reuel Tolkien, born Baker in 1969 in Sychdyn, Flintshire, Wales, is the son of Hugh Baker and Michael Tolkien’s daughter Joan; thus he is the great-grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien. He grew up on a farm in Sychdyn, where members from the Tolkien Society would annually meet, during which time they would reenact scenes from his great-grandfather’s works with other Tolkien enthusiasts. He prefers to use his mother’s surname Tolkien. At the request of Peter Jackson, he played a Gondorian ranger passing arms out to other rangers as they prepare to defend Osgiliath in The Return of the King, the final film in Jackson’s film adaptation of his great-grandfather’s works. Royd Tolkien works as a film producer and literary agent. Notable films produced by him include Pimp, wherein he also plays himself.
His paternal grandfather, Hilary Arthur Reuel Tolkien, was the fantasy author’s younger brother.
Tim Tolkien has a public art and metal sculpture business at Cradley Heath, West Midlands (county)|West Midlands. He is also a bass player and member of the band Klangstorm, founded in 1996.