Looking for exciting adventures and fantastical stories that portray the remarkable bravery and development of lovable characters? Then J.R.R. Tolkien Day is here just for you! One of the premier fantasy fiction writers of all time, this is a perfect time to celebrate and enjoy Tolkien’s legends from Middle-earth, specially-crafted Elvish languages, and so much more.
History of JRR Tolkien Day
Born at an important time in history, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien had an interesting life story that contained many hardships and challenges. Tolkien’s life started in South Africa when his father was stationed there, but the tragedy began early when Tolkien was only three years old and his father died. Moving back to England, Ronald’s mother fell ill a few years later, leaving him and his younger brother as orphans when Ronald was only twelve years old. The boys were then supported by a Catholic priest, and the influence of the church as well as his personal faith can be seen all throughout Tolkien’s work.
Even after her death, Tolkein’s mother’s presence made a huge impact on his life, with her encouragement of fantasy, stories, drama and linguistics. As he made his way through private school in Birmingham, Tolkien connected with a group of boys, the Tea Club and Barrovian Society (TCBS) who became an important part of fostering his love of creativity and the arts.
Eventually, Tolkien made his way to Oxford University where he struggled at first but ended up graduating with first class honors. It was at Oxford, when they were both on the faculty, that Tolkien met his friend and colleague, C.S. Lewis. It was during this season that Tolkien, Lewis, Charles Williams and a number of other literary enthusiasts were part of The Inklings. This was a literary group that lasted for almost 20 years, encouraging and honing some of the most incredible fantasy writings of the modern era.
Many people don’t realize that, in addition to his work on his own fantasy stories, Tolkien was also a prolific linguist and translator. He worked on translations of Beowulf and various Old English poems, as well as being a contributor to The Jerusalem Bible.
While Tolkien’s work has been popular for many decades, it gained a new following in the early 2000s when director Peter Jackson and his team began turning the stories into an epic group of films based on The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.
While this has been the birthday of Mr. Tolkien for more than a century, the celebration of JRR Tolkien Day is a more recent occasion, and the Tolkien Society has been a supporter of the day for approximately 20 years. This day is an ideal time to raise a glass to this mastermind of fantasy and language, story and poetry. Because it’s time to enjoy and celebrate JRR Tolkien Day!
JRR Tolkien Day Timeline
January 3, 1892
J.R.R. Tolkien is born
Named John Ronald Reuel, but called “Ronald” by his family, Tolkein becomes an early reader, with a vivid imagination for languages and stories.
Tolkien attends Oxford University
Tolkien is orphaned by age 12 but taken care of by a Catholic priest who helps him get to Oxford, where he eventually meets his friend and colleague, C.S. Lewis.
The Hobbit is published
Tolkien’s first book is published, taking place in the Third Age of Middle-earth.
September 3, 1973
J.R.R. Tolkien dies
At the age of 81, after authoring 29 books and translating or contributing to dozens more books and periodicals, Tolkien dies just 21 months after his wife’s death.
The Lord of the Rings is released as a major film
Peter Jackson directs this and two other movies in the series featuring Frodo, Gandalf, various elves, dwarves, humans and more, all caught up in this epic fantasy drama.
How to Celebrate JRR Tolkien Day
The sky’s the limit when it comes to showing appreciation for and enjoying the works of this amazing author on JRR Tolkien Day! Consider some of these ideas for getting started with celebrating the day:
Read Some Works by Tolkien
With at least 29 books of his own authorship and dozens more books and periodicals that he contributed to, there is plenty to choose from when it comes to reading some of his works on JRR Tolkien Day! Head over to a local bookstore or a community library and pick up a copy of one of these titles or some others to get started with:
- The Hobbit (1947). While it is portrayed in the modern films as a trilogy, this story of Bilbo Baggins started out all in one book.
- The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (1954-1956). This group of books makes a great deep dive with The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King.
- The Silmarillion (1977). This is a unique collection of Tolkien’s myths, tales and stories that was published after the death of the author, with the help of Tolkien’s son, Christopher.
- The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (1962). Rather than a novel, this is a collection of poems that contains interesting Hobbit folklore and access to information about Middle Earth that isn’t available anywhere else.
Learn Fun Facts About J. R. R. Tolkien
To raise awareness about JRR Tolkien Day with friends and family, or through social media, check out some of these interesting facts about the author and share them just for fun:
J.R.R. Tolkien was a linguist and polyglot, speaking at least 15 different languages, both real and fictional. Plus, there were another 15 dialects of his own Elvish languages that he used in his works of fiction.
Even before he was old enough to start school, his mother taught him at home, including the basics of Latin. This ignited in him a love for languages that never left.
Tolkien’s service in World War I had a profound influence on his stories, including the battle scenes as well as the character Sam Gamgee, who was modeled after the privates and batmen in the war.
Throw a JRR Tolkien Day Party
Get together with all of those friends who are fans of fiction, the fantasy world, and J.R.R. Tolkien! Invite family members, coworkers and others to a gathering where they can dress up as their favorite J.R.R. Tolkien characters. Decorate with various scenes and items that depict the world of Middle-earth. And be sure to serve snacks and treats that go along with the theme.
For entertainment, of course there is a wide range of opportunities, including having a reading from one of Tolkien’s books. It might also be fun to try to recite some of his poetry that has been memorized in advance.
Those who have a few hours to spare could even arrange for a big screen showing of one of the series of Tolkien’s films. For The Lord of the Rings trilogy, that means leaving 9 hours and 20 minutes to watch the films back to back. The Hobbit is a bit more do-able, coming in at just under 8 hours for the three movies.
JRR Tolkien Day FAQs
When was Lord of the Rings written?
From 1937 to 1949, The Lord of the Rings trilogy was written in various stages.
When did Tolkien die?
J.R.R. Tolkien died when he was 81 years old, on September 3, 1973.
When did The Lord of the Rings book come out?
The first book in the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, was released in July 1954, and the other two followed within the next 15 months.
Did J.R.R. Tolkien get married?
Yes, in March 1916, Tolkien married Edith Bratt, who was the inspiration for some of his story characters.
What did J.R.R. Tolkien’s friends call him?
While his mother and brother called him Ronald, most of Tolkein’s friends referred to him as “Tollers”.