JRR Tolkien: A Biography

Author(s): Humphrey Carpenter


The authorized biography of the creator of Middle-earth. In the decades since his death in September 1973, millions have read THE HOBBIT, THE LORD OF THE RINGS, and THE SILMARILLION and become fascinated about the very private man behind the books. Born in South Africa in January 1892, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was orphaned in childhood and brought up in near-poverty. He served in the first World War, surviving the Battle of the Somme, where he lost many of the closest friends he'd ever had. After the war he returned to the academic life, achieving high repute as a scholar and university teacher, eventually becoming Merton Professor of English at Oxford where he was a close friend of C.S. Lewis and the other writers known as The Inklings.


Then suddenly his life changed dramatically. One day while grading essay papers he found himself writing 'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit' -- and worldwide renown awaited him.


Humphrey Carpenter was given unrestricted access to all Tolkien's papers, and interviewed his friends and family. From these sources he follows the long and painful process of creation that produced THE LORD OF THE RINGS and THE SILMARILLION and offers a wealth of information about the life and work of the twentieth century's most cherished author.


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'One of the most interesting and readable biographies of a literary figure.' The Times 'The story is rich and beautifully told.' Sunday Times 'Absolutely fascinating.' Daily Mail 'A painstaking and often moving account.' Times Literary Supplement 'Humphrey Carpenter's plain, unvarnished tale is absolutely gripping.' Times Literary Supplement

Humphrey Carpenter was born in Oxford in 1946 and has spent most of his life in that city. He read English Language and Literature at Keble College, Oxford, and met Professor J.R.R. Tolkien on a number of occasions. For some years he worked for the BBC as a radio producer and broadcaster and won acclaim as a top biographer, including books on W.H.Auden, Evelyn Waugh, Robert Runcie and Spike Milligan. He died in 2005.

General Fields

  • : 9780008207779
  • : HarperCollins Publishers Limited
  • : Harper Element
  • : October 2016
  • : 197mm X 130mm
  • : November 2016
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Humphrey Carpenter
  • : Paperback
  • : English
  • : 384
  • : 8 b/w plates (8pp), Index