January 3 – J.R.R. Tolkien’s Birthday


“All that is gold does not glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;

The old that is strong does not wither,

Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

The 3rd of January is the birth date of the incredible J.R.R. Tolkien, writer of the phenomenally successful Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Today, the Lord of the Rings sits as the number 2 best selling book, with over 150 million copies sold. (The first being A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens. Finding this data was very difficult, as there is much disagreement on actual numbers. This is based on books with reliable sales statistics and does not include non-fiction works or religious books).

Tolkien was born on January the 3rd, 1892, under the name John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. The name Tolkien is an unusual one: it is thought to be of German origin. Legend handed down to Tolkien from his aunt Grace tells a tale of George von Hohenzollern who fought heroically in the siege of Vienna in 1529. He is thought to have organized an attack against the Turkish, winning him the name “Tollkühn”, meaning “very impulsive”.

Tolkien earned a degree in classic literature at Exeter College, and went on to be a professor at the prestigious Oxford University, where he began writing The Hobbit. It was first published in 1937 and has since sold over 100 million copies, a number which I’m sure will continue to rise as the trilogy of Hobbit movies is released over the next few years. If you haven’t seen The Hobbit: An unexpected Journey yet, do it now. It does not disappoint.  Tolkien designed the original cover of the book himself, with influence from William Morris. The first printing of the book also included 11 more excellent illustrations.

This extraordinary author passed away in 1973 at the age of 81, and today would have been his 121st birthday.

One of my favourite quotes from The Hobbit


“What do you mean?” he [Gandalf] said. “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?”

“All of them at once,” said Bilbo.

I celebrated a few days in advance by seeing the Hobbit – if you haven’t seen it yet, you need to turn off your computer, get to the nearest cinema and watch it…now. It is amazing 😀


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