1916 photograph of J.R.R. Tolkien in British First World War uniform.

"The mind that thought of light, heavy, grey, yellow, still, swift also conceived of magic that would make heavy things light and able to fly, turn grey lead into yellow gold, and the still rock into swift water. If it could do the one, it could do the other; it inevitably did both. When we have taken green from the grass, blue from heaven, and red from blood, we have already an enchanter's power." - Essay, On Fairy Stories, 1939

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (January 3, 1892 - September 2, 1973) was a South African-born British author. He grew up in the English countryside, but was forced to move to the city in his early teens. Graduating from Oxford, he was fascinated by language, translating old texts and devising his own languages, and later creating a fantasy world for them. The author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, he also wrote many other books and essays, very few of which were published in his lifetime. Many of his books were published posthumously by his son, Christopher Tolkien.


The term "legendarium" is commonly used as a convenient name to encompass Tolkien's fantasy writings set in the fictional universe of Arda, in which Middle-earth is a continent. It has a long and rich history spanning thousands of years, with an array of races, nations, and cultures. The first stories of the legendarium were written down around the time of World War I, and Tolkien continued to work on it throughout his life, until his death. The larger part of his work was never published during his lifetime, although his son has since worked to publish his texts, either in books compied and edited into a single narrative (The Silmarillion, The Children of Húrin) or in books collecting the original texts, essays and fragments (Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-earth). Notable are also Tolkien's constructed languages. He had a longstanding passion for languages since he was a child, learning many and even creating new ones. Tolkien always stated that the passion for creating languages had come first, and that the desire for creation of a world for them had come after. In the fictional world of Arda a great many of languages are used or referred to, ranging from those with only a few names to those with a grammar and rudimentary vocabulary, to some which are more complete. The two most developed languages, Quenya and Sindarin, feature the most in his works and are also the most well known of Tolkien's constructed languages.


Oxford Tolkien

Bust of J.R.R. Tolkien in Exeter College, Oxford.

Middle-earth Legendarium

  • The Hobbit (1937)
  • The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955), originally divided into 3 volumes and split into 2 books each
  • The Silmarillion (posthumous, 1977)
  • Unfinished Tales (posthumous, 1980)
  • The History of Middle-earth (posthumous)
    • 1.The Book of Lost Tales 1 (1983)
    • 2. The Book of Lost Tales 2 (1984)
    • 3. The Lays of Beleriand (1985)
    • 4. The Shaping of Middle-earth (1986)
    • 5. The Lost Road and Other Writings (1987)
    • 6. The Return of the Shadow (The History of The Lord of the Rings v.1) (1988)
    • 7. The Treason of Isengard (The History of The Lord of the Rings v.2) (1989)
    • 8. The War of the Ring (The History of The Lord of the Rings v.3) (1990)
    • 9. Sauron Defeated (includes The History of The Lord of the Rings v.4) (1992)
    • 10. Morgoth's Ring (The Later Silmarillion v.1) (1993)
    • 11. The War of the Jewels (The Later Silmarillion v.2) (1994)
    • 12. The Peoples of Middle-earth (1996)
  • The Children of Húrin (posthumous, 2007)
  • Beren and Lúthien (posthumous, June 1, 2017)
  • The Fall of Gondolin (posthumous, announced to be released on August 30, 2018)



  • Tolkien was friends with C.S. Lewis. They both belonged to a group of English writers who called themselves the Inklings and met regularly at a pub called the Eagle and Child - but more affectionately known as "The Bird and the Baby" - where they would all take turns reading portions of their works aloud and critiquing each other's writing.
  • Tolkien created over 20 languages by himself. There are many unpublished languages also.

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