January 3rd, 2019 marks what would have been author J.R.R. Tolkien’s 127th birthday. Born in Bloemfontein, South Africa in 1892, Tolkien is best known for his books The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Some of his other writings on Middle-Earth have been compiled after his death in 1973 by family. These include The Silmarillion, Beren and Luthien, and the recently published The Fall of Gondolin.
Tolkien was a major scholar of the English language. His specialty was in Old and Middle English, and this was of great assistance to him as he created his own languages of the Elves, Dwarves, and other races of Middle-Earth. He was good friends with another well-known author, C.S. Lewis. The Hobbit was published in 1937, and The Lord of the Rings trilogy was published from 1954-1955.
His stories are still being told and praised 82 years later. Award-winning movie adaptations of the books have come to theatres by director Peter Jackson. There’s been a recent announcement of a television series following stories of Middle-Earth. Video games have been produced, including the incredibly successful Shadow of Mordor and its sequel Shadow of War. There are toys, trading cards, New Zealand tours, cosplay, RPG books, and an all manner of ways Tolkien’s stories have been celebrated and expanded.
Why, so many decades after the publishing of these books, do we still love them? Perhaps because the story of good and evil is always relatable. Perhaps because the issues these characters face – those of racism, corruption, and bravery- we see in our own lives. And perhaps because, most of all, a good story will forever remain a good story.
Each year on his birthday The Tolkien Society encourages fans to do a toast at 9 pm their local time. The toast is to simply raise a glass and say “The Professor!”. Fans can use the hashtag #TolkienBirthdayToast to spread the love and share their celebration with others.