Monday, 21 September 2020

there and back again

First published on this day in 1937, English author and academic John Ronald Reuel Tolkein’s (*1898 – †1973) premier work of high fantasy, The Hobbit (previously), was received with critical success and an avid readership with an appetite for more, retroactively finding a niche in the mythopoetic legendarium which Tolkien had been developing privately for decades, realised in his follow-on work The Lord of the Rings. Aside from his keen interest in Norse philology and folklore, Tolkien’s prose is influenced by designer, poet and activist for social justice William Morris and his correspondents C.S. Lewis and W.H. Auden, the latter recollecting the author’s moment of inspiration while grading papers, jotting down: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”