Ten Things You May Not Have Known about J.R.R. Tolkien

JRR Tolkien Fun Facts

Fun Facts about J.R.R. Tolkien

1. He translated Catholic prayers such as the Hail Mary, Our Father, and the Litany of Loreto into Quenya.

2.  Tolkien was disappointed that in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, a real forest does not come to fight the titular character. This disappointment may have been part of the inspiration for Tolkien’s own living, marching trees, the Ents.

3. Ursula K. Le Guin once wrote that she was initially wary of reading The Lord of the Rings, but once she did, the only authors she cannot count her rereads for became Dickens, Tolstoy, and Tolkien.

4. Tolkien wrote in a letter that, “as far as any character is ‘like me’ it is Faramir.”

5. Tolkien’s friends and wife called him Ronald.

6. He served as captain of the rugby team at school and once broke his nose during a game.

7. The first edition of The Hobbit (1937) featured cover art by Tolkien himself.

8. Tolkien’s fiction works published during his lifetime included: The Hobbit, Farmer Giles of Ham, The Lord of the Rings, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, Tree and Leaf, Smith of Wooton Major, The Road Goes Ever On, and The Tolkien Reader. The rest were published posthumously.

9. Tolkien himself did not have a dog, but he liked them enough (and more than cats) to feature them in multiple stories.

10. He was not considered a good speaker when he lectured, but his students thought he shone when he quoted texts and declared that he could make a lecture room feel like a mead hall.

Works Cited

  1. The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings, page 20. ISBN: 978-0-374-53625-1.
  2. The Magical Words of the Lord of the Rings, page 39. ISBN: 0-425-18771-3.
  3. A Reader’s Companion to The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, page 115.
  4. The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, page 232. ISBN: 0-395-31555-7.
  5. Tolkien: A Biography by Michael White, page 14. ISBN:0-451-21242-8.
  6. Tolkien: A Biography by Michael White, page 41. ISBN:0-451-21242-8.
  7. Paste Magazine: “The Hobbit Book Covers.”
  8. Meditations on Middle-Earth edited by Karen Haber, page 132. ISBN: 0-312-27536-6.
  9. The Bark: “Tolkien’s Dogs” by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull.
  10. J. R. R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth by Bradley J. Birzer.

25 thoughts on “Ten Things You May Not Have Known about J.R.R. Tolkien

  1. saraletourneau says:

    Nice list! I didn’t know most of these facts either. My favorite is probably #3, since UKLG was, like Tolkien, one of my foundational fantasy authors (and one of my favorite writers of all time, too.)


      • saraletourneau says:

        Which UKLG books didn’t appeal to you? I was going to offer recommendations, but knowing what you’ve read before will help me avoid suggesting books you’ve already tried. 😉


        • Krysta says:

          I know I’ve read the Earthsea books and Gifts, but if I’ve read more, I can’t remember them! The Tombs of Atuan was okay, but I didn’t enjoy the rest. I feel like I am missing out on something everyone else understands!

          Liked by 1 person

  2. Lois says:

    I love all these Tolkien inspired posts that have been popping up lately and that last fact about his lecturing style made me chuckle haha.


  3. theorangutanlibrarian says:

    hahaha that’s hilarious about Macbeth- what a great fact! Yay Faramir! And incidentally, the first copy of Hobbit I ever read featured that very cover art (it was missing the last two pages though, so swings and roundabouts) Love this post!


  4. jonathanscottgriffin says:

    Fantastic list, fantastic post! Now, if you don’t mind, let’s turn this list into eleven points instead of ten.
    11. Tolkien was a professor of mythology and was highly inspired by Norse mythology, the myths of the vikings. Gandalf has some Odin like characteristics. Rings of power, dwarves, runes of power, and Middle Earth (Midgard) all come from Norse myths. The Hobbit gives a nod to Beowulf, and even some of the dwarves in the Hobbit are named after the dwarves from the Norse myths.


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