There’s a lot to look forward to for Tolkien aficionados. In addition to a planned Amazon television series based on The Lord of the Rings, a biopic of the late author will be released in theaters in May. The first trailer for Tolkien was released last week, and it gave some suggestions as to how the film will examine J.R.R. Tolkien’s losses and loves.
It’s not difficult to see parallels between Tolkien’s Middle-earth legendarium mythology and happenings in his own life. Tolkien’s life was nearly as dramatic as those of his Middle-earth heroes, from his traumatic upbringing as an orphan to his enduring and epic love for his adolescent lover, to his formative years as a young man at Oxford and at war.
The Tolkien novels listed here are must-reads for those who wish to comprehend the lasting impact his writing has had on fantasy and storytelling in general, as well as those who want to learn more about how his life inspired his writing. These publications will be valuable to everyone who has been touched by Tolkien’s imagination, from some of his most famous novels to biographies of the late author.
The Fellowship of the Ring
By J.R.R. Tolkien
Beren and Lthien is a love story in Tolkien’s epic legendarium, first published as a separate novel in 2017. It follows the relationship between Beren, a simple mortal man, and the immortal elf-queen Lthien, thousands of years before the events of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings.
Tolkien’s own personal past may have influenced this narrative about two lovers from very different lifestyles. Tolkien fell in love with Edith Bratt, a 19-year-old orphan, when he was 16 years old.
Tolkien and Bratt were separated because the priest who looked after him disapproved of his ward seeing a younger woman. Tolkien, on the night of his 21st birthday, wrote a letter to his long-lost love declaring his feelings. Bratt abandoned her fiancé for Tolkien, and the two spent the rest of their lives together.
The couple’s tombstones now show how their love affected Tolkien’s writing: his reads “Beren,” while hers reads “Lthien.” Download Beren and Lthien today and witness their true love in action.
Tolkien and the Great War
By John Garth
Tolkien biographer John Garth analyzes Tolkien’s horrific experiences in combat, including the loss of two of Tolkien’s close colleagues, in this intriguing biography. Tolkien enlisted at the age of 21 after graduating from Oxford, fully expecting to perish in battle. He did, however, survive the Battle of the Somme and other now-famous World War I battles.
Garth analyzes “how a writer converted academic into art, how deeply friendship sustains and scars us, and how the loss and disillusionment that typified World War I inspired Tolkien’s epic saga” by researching Tolkien’s wartime writing (Detroit Free Press). In the impending biopic, Tolkien’s wartime experiences are going to be extensively addressed.
The Children of Húrin
By J.R.R. Tolkien
When Tolkien went away in 1973, he left this epic fantasy tale unfinished. It was originally released as a separate novel in 2007, due to Tolkien’s son Christopher’s editing. The novel is set in Middle-First earth’s Age, and it chronicles the difficult existence of Trin, son of Hrin, a warrior who is cursed from birth by Morgoth, also known as Lord of the Dark, a terrible demon.
By Patrick Curry
Patrick Curry, a Tolkien scholar, discusses the appeal of Tolkien’s work in Defending Middle-Earth, claiming that readers are drawn to the legendarium not simply for its escapist value, but also because it taps into a primordial yearning we all have for mythology, narrative, and—to some extent—spirituality.
It’s hard to imagine a stronger praise than that from the late Ursula K. Le Guin, who called it “a profoundly valuable and timely work.”
The Road to Middle-Earth
By Tom Shippey
The Road to Middle-Earth is a must-read for Tolkien lovers who seek a full comprehension of the legendarium before the biography (or the new TV series!) comes out this spring.
Tom Shippey, a Tolkien specialist, explains how Tolkien changed the fantasy genre in this interesting book. He also delves into some of the legendarium’s most intricate works, such as The Silmarillion, and explains how they fit into Middle-larger earth’s mythology. This novel is a perfect blend of intellectual analysis and accessible, amusing insight for anyone interested in learning more about Tolkien and his work.
The Art of Lord of the Rings
By J.R.R. Tolkien
Tolkien enthusiasts will treasure this magnificent collection as a keepsake. This book, released to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of The Lord of the Rings, includes sketches created by the author during the writing process. Tolkien never meant for much of his work to be published, preferring to use drawing to flesh out his ideas; yet, this volume offers readers a fascinating look back at Tolkien’s creative process and a glimpse into the author’s legendarium through his own eyes.
Tree and Leaf
This book includes Tolkien’s renowned essay, ‘On Fairy-stories,’ and the narrative that epitomizes this, ‘Leaf by Niggle,’ as well as the poetry ‘Mythopoeia’ and the verse play, ‘The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth,’ which tells of the events following the tragic Battle of Maldon.
As anyone who has read Tolkien knows, fairy tales aren’t only for kids. Tolkien analyzes the nature of fairy tales and fantasy in his essay On Fairy-Stories, rescuing the genre from those who would reduce it to juvenilia. Leaf by Niggle is a disturbing short story about an artist named Niggle who has a “long journey to make” and is considered as a metaphor of Tolkien’s life.
Mythopoeia is a poem about a debate between two unforgettable characters on the creation of myths. Finally, we are given to a translation of Tolkien’s account of the Battle of Maldon, known as The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth, which is being published for the first time.
Tree and Leaf is a varied, funny, controversial, and engaging collection of works that demonstrates the breadth of J.R.R. Tolkien’s imagination, the depth of his knowledge of English history, and his brilliance as a wonderful fiction author.