so much of the focus has been on his two most famous literary works, The
Hobbit and The
Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien appears to the casual reader as nothing
more than an author of fantasy literature. He was, however, a very distinguished
linguist and scholar. This compilation is a chronological list of important
events relating to Tolkien's life, career, and scholarly pursuits,
and attempts to provide a more clear picture of this astounding man.
January 1870 : Mabel Suffield is born
January 21, 1889 : Edith Bratt is born in Gloucester.
April 16, 1891 : Mabel Suffield and Arthur Reuel Tolkien are married at the Cape Town Cathedral in Bloemfontein, South Africa
January 3, 1892 : John Ronald Reuel Tolkien is born in Bloemfontein, South Africa
January 31, 1892 : John Ronald Reuel Tolkien is christened in the Bloemfontein Cathedral
February 17, 1894 : Hilary Arthur Reuel Tolkien, younger brother to JRRT, is born in Bloemfontein, South Africa
April 1895 : Mabel Tolkien boards the SS Guelph and returns to Birmingham, England with her two children, John and Hilary. Arthur Tolkien remains in South Africa with plans to join his family when time permits.
February 15, 1896 : Arthur Tolkien dies in Bloemfontein, South Africa, as a result of a severe hemorrhage suffered the previous day. He had been sick for many months with rheumatic fever, and never made the trip to Birmingham to see his family.
1896 : Mabel Tolkien moves her family from Birmingham to the hamlet of Sarehole.
Autumn 1899 : JRRT, at the age of 7, takes the entrance exam for King Edwards School, but fails to obtain a place.
June 1900 : Mabel Tolkien and her sister May Incledon are received into the Church of Rome, bringing about the wrath and opposition of their strongly Baptist relatives.
September 1900 : Tolkien retakes the entrance exam for King Edward's, and is accepted.
Late 1900 : The Tolkiens move from Sarehole to Moseley to be closer to Birmingham and King Edwards School.
1901 : The Tolkiens move again, from Moseley to a small villa
behind King's Heath Station.
Early 1902 : Mabel Tolkien again moves her family, from King's Heath to a house in Edgbaston next door to the Birmingham Oratory and the Grammar School of St. Philip. To save money, Mabel removes the boys from King Edwards and enrolls them in St. Philips.
Autumn 1903 : JRRT wins a Foundation Scholarship to King Edwards, and returns there to continue his studies.
November 14, 1904 : Mabel Tolkien, age 34, dies after six days in a diabetic coma
Nov./Dec. 1904 : Ronald & Hilary move in with their Aunt, Beatrice Suffield
Late 1904, Early 1905 : After the death of his mother, the guardianship of Tolkien and his brother Hilary is taken over by Father Francis Xavier Morgan, a priest of the Birmingham Oratory
Early 1908 : Ronald and Hilary move to 37 Duchess Road, behind the Birmingham Oratory, into a room let by a Mrs. Faulkner.
Early 1908 : J.R.R Tolkien begins his first term at Oxford
December 17, 1910 : Tolkien is awarded an Open Classical Exhibition to Exeter College
1913 : Tolkien takes the Honours Moderations exams
1915 : Awarded First Class Honours degree in English Language and Literature
1915 : Commissioned in the Lancashire Fusiliers
March 22, 1916 : John Ronald Reuel Tolkien marries Edith Bratt
June 1916 : Tolkien is assigned to the Lancashire Fusiliers and sent to France where he sees some action in Somme as second Lieutenant. Returns to England suffering from shell shock.
1917 : Birth of J.R.R. Tolkien's first son John
1919 : Tolkien works as an assistant on the Oxford English Dictionary for two years
1920 : Birth of J.R.R. Tolkien's second son Michael
1921 : Tolkien begins teaching at the University of Leeds as Reader in the English Language
1924 : Tolkien becomes Professor of English Language at Leeds
1924 : Birth of third son Christopher
1925 : Tolkien moves to Oxford, where he serves as Rawlingson Professor of Anglo-Saxon and Fellow of Pembroke College for the next 24 years
1925 : Tolkien and E.V. Gordon publish their translation of Sir Gawain and the Greene Knight
1926 : Tolkien meets C.S. Lewis and the two enter into a lifelong friendship
1929 : Tolkien's forth child, Priscilla, is born
circa 1933 : JRRT first begins telling his children of a funny little creature named Bilbo
circa 1933 : Tolkien gives W.P. Ker lecture at Glasgow University
1936 : Tolkien completes The Hobbit
1936 : Tolkien delivers his address "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" before the British Association
1937 : The Hobbit is published, and Tolkien begins working on the "sequel"
1938 - 1939 : Tolkien writes "Leaf by Niggle"
1939 : Tolkien delivers his lecture "On Fairy-Stories"
1945 : Tolkien becomes Merton Professor of English Language and Literature at Oxford; a position he holds until his retirement in 1959
1947 : "Leaf by Niggle" is published in The Dublin Review, a scholarly Catholic journal
1948 : "Leaf by Niggle" is published
1948 : The Lord of the Rings is completed
1949 : Farmer Giles of Ham is published
1954 : The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, the first two portions of The Lord of the Rings, are published
1955 : The Return of the King, the final portion of The Lord of the Rings, is published
1957 : Tolkien was to travel to the United States to accept honorary degrees from Marquette, Harvard, and several other universities, and to deliver a series of addresses. The trip was cancelled due to the ill health of his wife Edith. Tolkien never made the trip before his death in 1973.
1959 : Tolkien retires his professorship at Oxford
1960's : Tolkien was a collaborator in the translation of the Jerusalem Bible from the French (he did Job)
1962 : The Adventures of Tom Bombadil is published
1964 : "Leaf by Niggle" and "On Fairy Stories" are published together in a single edition called Tree and Leaf
1965 : Publication of American paperback editions of The Lord of the Rings
1967 : Smith of Wotton Major and The Road Goes Ever On are published
1968 : The Tolkien family moves to Poole near Bournemouth
November 29, 1971 : Edith Tolkien dies after a short, but severe, illness attributed to an inflamed gall-bladder
1972 : Tolkien returns to Oxford
1972 : Receives CBE from the Queen
September 2, 1973 : John Ronald Reuel Tolkien dies at the age of eighty-one in a private hospital in Bournemouth
1977 : Silmarillion published posthumously (final editing was completed by his son Christopher)
April 12, 1994 : Twenty-one years after Tolkien's death, Darryl Friesen begins compiling a list of important events in the life and career of J.R.R.Tolkien