Collectible J.R.R. Tolkienby Beth Carswell
A limited/numbered deluxe edition from The Folio Society, London. Published in 2002.
Few authors have accomplished the creation of a fictional world so effectively as J.R.R. Tolkien did with his Middle-earth books. Comprising The Lord of the Rings trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, and The Return of the King), The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion (published posthumously), the Middle-earth novels included detailed maps, languages, histories, wars and feuds, and back stories of intricate high fantasy to support its myriad characters and creatures.
Tolkien was born John Ronald Reuel Tolkien in 1892 in South Africa, but moved to England at age three, where he was tutored by his mother. Much of his studies focused on the biology of plants and animals, the fascination with which can be seen throughout much of Tolkien's writing. Many passages throughout Tolkien's fantasy realm are attributable to experiences in his own life; many of Bilbo Baggins' walking adventures in The Hobbit were largely inspired by a trip to Switzerland, and the beautiful half-elven character of Arwen from The Lord of the Rings is said to be based on Tolkien's wife, Edith.
Tolkien's passion for words and writing began in earnest after World War I, when he took a job at the Oxford English Dictionary. Soon after, he became a professor at the University of Leeds, working with early and Middle English texts such as Beowulf and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Much of his work involved translation of texts, and it is likely his etymological background, as well as the close study of words involved in translation, which made the languages in his books so authentic.
While many fantasy authors are successful, hardly any have achieved the success, adoration and iconic status of Tolkien. Fans and collectors are plentiful, and are not limited to the science fiction/fantasy genres, with many readers across the board falling in love with Middle-earth. The most rabid fans know the books inside out.
Tolkien died in 1973 at age 81, but with each new generation of readers, the magic of his work is enjoyed again with fresh eyes.