• Where did it all begin?

    The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, was written by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and is the prelude to the master piece The Lord of the Rings...

  • Who is Bilbo Baggins?

    Bilbo Baggins is a Hobbit and the hero of the story...

  • Who is Smaug?

    Smaug is the great dragon who lives in the Lonely Mountain. As with all dragons, Smaug is very intelligent, loves gold and is extremely powerful...

  • The Movie

    The Hobbit movie is being produced and directed by Peter Jackson and filmed in New Zealand...

J.R.R. Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892, in Bloemfontein, South Africa, to English parents. At the age of three his mother brought him and his younger brother, Hilary, back to England. Tolkien's father died soon afterwards in South Africa, so the family stayed in England.

Tolkien's first job was as a lexicographer on the New English Dictionary (helping to draft the Oxford English Dictionary). During this time he began serious work on creating languages that he imagined had been spoken by elves. The languages were based primarily on Finnish and Welsh. He also began his "Lost Tales" a mythic history of men, elves, and other creatures he created to provide context for his "Elvish" languages.

Tolkien became a professor in English Language at the University of Leeds. In 1925 Tolkien left to take a position at Oxford University, where he stayed until he retired in 1959. It was also during his years at Oxford that Tolkien would scribble an inexplicable note in a student's exam book: "In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit." Curious as to what exactly a "Hobbit" was and why it should live in a hole, he began to build a story about a short creature who inhabited a world called Middle-earth. This grew into a story he told his children, and in 1936 a version of it came to the attention of the publishing firm of George Allen and Unwin (now part of HarperCollins), who published it as The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, in 1937.

Stanley Unwin, the publisher, was stunned by The Hobbit's success and asked for a sequel, The Lord of the Rings appeared in 1954-1955. The Lord of the Rings did not reach the height of its popularity until it finally appeared in paperback. Tolkien disliked paperbacks and hadn't authorized a paperback edition. In 1965, however, Ace Books exploited a legal loophole and published an unauthorized paperback version of The Lord of the Rings.

J.R.R. Tolkien died on September 2, 1973. His death did not mark the end of Middle-earth for readers, though. After Tolkien's death his son Christopher endeavored to complete his father's life work. He edited The Silmarillion and saw it published in 1977. In 1980 he began to publish the rest of his father's incomplete writings, culminating in the 12-volume History of Middle-earth series.