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John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on 3 January 1892 in the city of Bloemfontein, in the Orange Free State, now a part of the Republic of South Africa, but spent most of his life living in Great Britain.

Always fond of languages, Tolkien invented several of his own, and constructed an entire parallel world of which the languages were an essential part. This world later became known as Middle-earth, and is the setting for his best-known works of literature, The Silmarillion, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Tolkien was a close friend of contemporary British writer C.S. Lewis, perhaps best known as the creator of The Chronicles of Narnia - the two men both taught in the English faculty at Oxford University.

Tolkien died in Bournemouth, England, in 1973, at the age of 81.

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Parental Guidance[]

  • Reading Age: some works can be read from about 9 or 10 by a confident reader
  • Read Aloud Age: may be suitable from 8 or 9, depending on an individual child's disposition

Middle-earth is a high fantasy world, with frequent appearances made by strange races (such as the 'Ents' or 'Tree-People' (tree-like beings that walk) in The Two Towers), individuals with magical powers (such as Tom Bombadil, and wizards including Saruman and Gandalf), and various monsters, including giant spiders, trolls, goblins, a dragon, and a fire-demon. Although some of the books are lighter in tone than others, none are suitable for very young children.

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Published after his death (edited by Christopher Tolkien)[]