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J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography

A book by Humphrey Carpenter

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  • Jun 9, 2005
This work certainly is the best of the bunch as to the life and times of J.R.R. TOlkien. It is a very ballanced biography, and does indeed point out a few of the short comings of the author, but this is well and good as it is not a chop job of the author and certainly points out strong points far more than his bad. This was one of those biographies I was unable to put down once I started it. I have always held Tolkien's work in very admiration, and this was sort of icing on the cake. Being one of the better authors of the past century, I is good that we have works such as this so that we can get to know the man as well as the man's works. I first read this one over twenty years ago, enjoyed it then and recently enjoyed it again. I highly recommend.

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More J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography reviews
review by . December 05, 2000
This book is the definitive biography of one of the 20th century's most beloved authors, JRR Tolkien. Humphrey Carpenter, Tolkien's official biographer was given unprecendeted access to Tolkien family members and family papers, and this clearly shows. Tolkien's early life, his love of Edith Bratt, his devout faith and his war-time experiences are all chronicled, giving new understanding to his life as not only the premier fantasy-genre author of his day (and of all time, for that matter), but also …
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Don Blankenship ()
Ranked #23
Retirement does not suit me and I now substitute teach in our local schools system. I spent twenty years in the military, twenty years in health care as a consultant and have taught in various colleges … more
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About this book


There may be a corner of the world where the name J.R.R. Tolkien is unknown, but you would be hard-pressed to find it. Since their publication,The HobbitandThe Lord of the Ringshave been published in every major language of the world. And though he single-handedly gave a mythology to the English and was beloved by millions, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien remained refreshingly unchanged by his fame and fortune, living out his days simply and modestly among the familiar surroundings of Oxford College. Humphrey Carpenter, who was given unrestricted access to Tolkien's papers, brilliantly puts meat to the bones of the Tolkien legend inJ.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, offering a well-rounded portrayal of this quiet, bookish man who always saw himself first and foremost as a philologist, uncovering rather than creating the peoples, languages, and adventures of Middle-Earth.

Carpenter chronicles Tolkien's early life with a special sensitivity; after losing both parents, Tolkien and his brother Hilary were taken from their idyllic life in the English countryside to a poverty-ridden existence in dark and sooty Birmingham. There were bright points, however. A social and cheerful lad, Tolkien enjoyed rugby and was proud of his gift for languages. It was also at this time that he met Edith Bratt, who would later become his wife. Academic life--both as a student and professor--is where this biography shines. Friendship with other men played a huge part in Tolkien's life, and Carpenter deftly ...

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ISBN-10: 0618057021
ISBN-13: 978-0618057023
Author: Humphrey Carpenter
Genre: Science Fiction & Fantasy
Publisher: Mariner Books
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