With the second half of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug still in theaters, it’s an appropriate time to celebrate J.R.R. Tolkien’s birthday! Born on January 3, 1892, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein, Orange Free State, and lived to be 81! He died on September 2, 1973…and what a life that man lived.
As most people know, well, at least we geeks and nerds know, Tolkien was an English writer, poet, university professor and philologist (which is the study of linguistics for those of us that didn’t know)…and yes, I did look it up, but that was just to make sure I was correct in my assumption that is had to do with languages. And we also know he is most well known for writing high fantasy, i.e. The Hobbit; or, There and Back Again, The Lord of the Rings
and The Silmarillion. Now, as a geek, I have read both the Hobbit (I have or at least had as I have I now idea where it is now…hrm…a beautiful copy of this book that I believe was a 50th anniversary edition, gilded pages and all) and The Lord of the Rings. The Lord of the Rings, for those who only know of it as a “trilogy” of movies, it is NOT technically a trilogy, like say…the Godfather movies. It is a really long fucking book that was split into three volumes. And therefore it was split into three movies.
Known to many as the “father” of modern high fantasy, it was the success and popularity of The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings that brought a renaissance to the genre. This was in no way meant to negate the works of other authors of the genre, but let’s be honest, no one brings it to the table like Tolkien.
In 2009, he was ranked number 5 on Forbes top-earning “dead celebrity” list. If only he could have been around to see the amount of money the movies made. With all the all the movies combined, the Middle Earth movies have earned more than a billion dollars. A BILLION. From movies. How many people do you know that have earned a billion dollars posthumously? Apparently only 4 other people surpass Tolkien as the top earning dead celebs. That’s impressive.