Birmingham’s First Gift To The World: J.R.R. Tolkien

Since November 26, Metroblogging sites around the globe have been unveiling seven “gifts” their cities can share with the world. David Markland over at the Los Angeles metblog site has put up an ongoing guide for all the posts on this subject.

Birmingham is a little slow getting in on this act (hey, what do you expect from a one-man show? How about some help around here?!?), but here is our first “gift” to the world: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, most famous for writing The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Although he was actually born in what is now South Africa, Tolkien moved to Birmingham at the age of three along with his mother and his younger brother after his father died of rheumatic fever. Throughout his childhood he remained in the area, where he met and fell in love with his future wife, before moving on to Oxford for university.

While in Oxford, Tolkien became great friends with one C.S. Lewis (author of The Chronicles of Narnia). Apparently Tolkien hated the Narnia stories. Although I’m not certain on the exact reasons, it was generally down to the way Lewis “beat the reader over the head” with the religious allegory… or perhaps it’s just because Lewis managed to finish the seven Narnia novels in just 5 years (from 1949 to 1954), whereas Tolkien took over 10 years (1937 to 1949) on the Lord of the Rings? ;)

I’ll spare you a detailed breakdown of his entire life since such information is already in abundance around the web (e.g. Wikipedia), but I hope you enjoy this “gift” of literary genius (Tolkien’s… not mine, obviously :P). Stay tuned for several more over the next few days!

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