John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892, in Bloefontain, South Africa, to English parents. The family was living in South Africa for his fathers job purposes. In April of 1895, Tolkien, his mother and brother Hilary returned to England. Their father, Arthur Reuel, remained in South Africa with plans to join his family when time permitted. While in England, news came that Arthur had died. After Arthurs death, the family rented a cottage in Sarehole Mill, Birmingham. Tolkien spent many happy years there. By the time he was four, his mother had taught him to read and write. He quickly became fascinated with words.
In 1899, he took the entrance exam for King Edwards School, but failed to obtain a place. He retook the exam a year later and was accepted. During his years at King Edwards, he learned Latin and Greek and the history of the English language. It was when Tolkien was twelve, his mother died of diabetes. He and his brother were left to the care of Father Francis Morgan, with whom he lived for many years. Tolkien met Edith Bratt, his future wife, in 1908 when he was sixteen. He began to spend all of his time with her, igoring his studies, until at last Father Francis forbade them to see one another.
Tolkien began his first term at Oxford University in 1911. Edith and Tolkien remained separate until he reached the age of 21 in 1913 and wrote her, asking him to marry him. She agreed and on March 22, 1916, they were married. It was difficult for the couple at first because Tolkien had enlisted in the army and was sent to France to fight in the first World War as a second lieutenant. He only lasted until October when he contracted Trench Fever and was sent back to England to recover. It was in 1917, that his first son, John Francis Reuel, was born.
Tolkien began working on the Silmarillion, which would not be published until after his death. In 1920, his second son, Michael Hilary Reuel was born. He was followed by Christopher Reuel in 1924 and finally by their daughter Priscilla Mary Reuel in 1929. Around 1933, Tolkien first began telling a story to his children of a funny character named Bilbo. Tolkien got the idea for The Hobbit from theses stories and, in 1936, completed the book. A year later, The Hobbit was published by Stanley Unwin, and proved to be so successful, soon Sir Stanley was asking for a sequel.
In 1959, Tolkien became Merton Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford. Tolkien completed the sequels to The Hobbit in 1948. The first two parts were published in 1954, under the titles The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. A year later, the third part, The Return of the King, was published. Tolkien retired two years later, in 1959, from his professorship at Oxford. With the compilation of these three sequels, the trilogy, The Lord of the Rings was published in 1965 in the United States.
In 1968, the Tolkien family moved to Poole near Bournemouth. His wife, Edith, died at the age of eighty-two of an inflamed gall bladder. After Ediths death in 1971, Tolkien returned to Oxford, to rooms provided by Merton College. J. R. R. Tolkien died of a perforated ulcer on September 2, 1973 at the age of eighty-one. He and Edith are buried in a single grave in the Catholic section of Wolvercote cemetery in Oxford. Tolkien wrote many novels and short stories. Some of them include, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Tree and Leaf, and Bilbos Last Song.