The Major Works of J.R.R Tolkien: A Brief Overview

Description: J.R.R Tolkien was one of the most influential authors of the 20th century. He is best known for his works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Silmarillion. This article provides an overview of his major works, from his early stories to his later works, and the impact they had on fantasy literature.

Table of Contents


J.R.R Tolkien (1892-1973) was an English writer, poet, and academic, best known for his fantasy novels "The Hobbit," "The Lord of the Rings," and "The Silmarillion." Tolkien was a professor of Anglo-Saxon and English language and literature at the University of Oxford, and his academic background heavily influenced his works. His writings are known for their intricate world-building, rich mythologies, and detailed linguistic constructions, which have inspired generations of readers and writers alike. Tolkien's works have been adapted into multiple successful films, television series, and video games, cementing his place as one of the most influential and beloved fantasy writers of all time.

Life Timeline

Here is a detailed timeline of events in the life of J.R.R. Tolkien:
  • January 3, 1892: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien is born in Bloemfontein, South Africa to Arthur and Mabel Tolkien.
  • 1895: Mabel Tolkien and her two sons, Ronald and Hilary, move back to England to live with Mabel's family.
  • 1900: Tolkien's father, Arthur Tolkien, dies in South Africa.
  • 1904: Tolkien's mother, Mabel Tolkien, dies of diabetes.
  • 1908-1911: Tolkien attends King Edward's School in Birmingham.
  • 1911: Tolkien's mother's family converts to Catholicism, which has a significant impact on Tolkien's own faith later in life.
  • 1911-1915: Tolkien studies at Exeter College, Oxford, where he develops a love of Anglo-Saxon and Norse literature.
  • 1915: Tolkien marries Edith Bratt.
  • 1916-1920: Tolkien serves in World War I as a second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers. He is sent to France and participates in the Battle of the Somme.
  • 1917: While recovering from trench fever, Tolkien begins writing what will become The Silmarillion.
  • 1920: Tolkien begins working as a reader for the Oxford English Dictionary.
  • 1925: Tolkien becomes a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University.
  • 1932: Tolkien becomes a professor of English language and literature at Oxford.
  • 1937: The Hobbit, Tolkien's first published work, is released.
  • 1939-1945: Tolkien serves in World War II as a codebreaker and cryptographer.
  • 1954-1955: The Lord of the Rings is published in three volumes.
  • 1962: Tolkien's wife, Edith Tolkien, dies.
  • 1971: Tolkien retires from his position at Oxford.
  • September 2, 1973: J.R.R. Tolkien dies in Bournemouth, England at the age of 81.

    J.R.R. Tolkien's Major Works

    J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle-earth legendarium is a vast and intricately crafted fictional universe that he began creating in the early 1910s and continued to develop over several decades. This universe includes various races such as humans, elves, dwarves, hobbits, and other fantastical creatures, as well as a complex system of languages and cultures.

    1. The Hobbit

    "The Hobbit," published in 1937, is a children's fantasy novel that takes place in Middle-earth and follows the adventures of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, who is recruited by a group of dwarves to help them reclaim their treasure from the dragon Smaug. The book is notable for its engaging storytelling, memorable characters, and rich world-building, and it has been adapted into several films and other media.

    2. The Lord of the Rings

    "The Lord of the Rings," a sequel to "The Hobbit," is a high fantasy epic published in three volumes between 1954 and 1955. The story follows the hobbit Frodo Baggins, who is tasked with destroying the One Ring, a powerful artifact created by the Dark Lord Sauron that grants him dominion over Middle-earth. The story is renowned for its epic scope, complex themes, and memorable characters, and it has had a profound impact on popular culture, inspiring countless adaptations and imitations.

    3. The Silmarillion

    "The Silmarillion," published posthumously in 1977, is a collection of Tolkien's writings and notes on the history of Middle-earth, from its creation by a divine being to the events leading up to "The Lord of the Rings." The book provides a comprehensive overview of the mythology and legends that underpin Tolkien's fictional universe and sheds light on many of the themes and motifs that are explored in his other works.

    4. The Children of Hurin

    "The Children of Húrin," published in 2007, is a novel based on a story from Tolkien's mythology of Middle-earth. The story follows the tragic fate of the human hero Túrin Turambar and his sister Nienor, who are cursed by the evil lord Morgoth and experience a series of misfortunes that ultimately lead to their deaths. The novel is notable for its dark and tragic tone, as well as its exploration of the themes of fate and free will.

    5. Tales from the Perilous Realm

    "Tales from the Perilous Realm," published in 1997, is a collection of short stories and poems by Tolkien. The book includes five stories set in various locations in Middle-earth, as well as several poems that showcase Tolkien's skill as a poet. The stories are notable for their whimsical and fantastical tone, as well as their use of fairy tale and folktale conventions.

    6. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil

    "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil" is a collection of poems by J.R.R. Tolkien, published in 1962. The book includes 16 poems that feature the character of Tom Bombadil, who is also a minor character in "The Lord of the Rings." The poems are notable for their playful and lighthearted tone, as well as their use of rhythm and rhyme. Many of the poems also feature fantastical creatures and locations from Middle-earth, such as Old Man Willow, the Barrow-wights, and the River-woman's daughter.

    7. Bilbo's Last Song

    "Bilbo's Last Song" is a poem written by J.R.R. Tolkien, which was published posthumously in 1990. The poem was written as a farewell to the character of Bilbo Baggins, the protagonist of "The Hobbit" and a key character in "The Lord of the Rings." The poem reflects on Bilbo's life and accomplishments, as well as his eventual departure from Middle-earth. "Bilbo's Last Song" is notable for its elegiac tone and its use of vivid imagery to evoke the natural beauty of Middle-earth.

    8. The Shaping of Middle-Earth

    "The Shaping of Middle-Earth" is the fourth volume in "The History of Middle-earth" series, which was edited by J.R.R. Tolkien's son Christopher and published between 1983 and 1996. The book includes early versions of the mythology of Middle-earth, including drafts of the "Ainulindalë," "Valaquenta," and "Quenta Silmarillion" texts. The book also includes several essays and notes by J.R.R. Tolkien, which provide insights into his creative process and the evolution of his ideas about Middle-earth. "The Shaping of Middle-Earth" is notable for its detailed exploration of the origins of Middle-earth and its many characters and creatures.

    9. The War of the Jewels (1994)

    The War of the Jewels is the eleventh volume in the History of Middle-earth series and covers the period from the early 1930s to the early 1950s. It contains early drafts of several chapters of The Silmarillion, including the tale of Turin Turambar, and explores the evolution of the story of the Silmarils, which played a central role in The Silmarillion.

    10. Morgoth's Ring (1993)

    Morgoth's Ring is the tenth volume in the History of Middle-earth series and focuses on the later stages of the development of The Silmarillion. It explores the nature and role of evil in Tolkien's mythology and contains several essays and drafts on the topic of Morgoth, the primary antagonist of The Silmarillion. It also contains drafts of the Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth, a philosophical dialogue between an Elf and a human on the nature of death and immortality.

    11. Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth (1980)

    Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth is a collection of unfinished and previously unpublished works by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by his son Christopher Tolkien. It includes several stories that expand on the events and characters of The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, including the story of Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin and the tale of the Quest of Erebor. It also contains detailed essays on the history and geography of Middle-earth.

    In conclusion, J.R.R. Tolkien's major works include The Children of Húrin, Tales from the Perilous Realm, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, Bilbo's Last Song, The Shaping of Middle-Earth, The War of the Jewels, Morgoth's Ring, and Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth. These works explore the rich mythology and history of Middle-earth and showcase Tolkien's masterful storytelling and world-building abilities.


    In conclusion, J.R.R. Tolkien's legacy in the fantasy genre is remarkable. Tolkien was a scholar, linguist, and writer who crafted an intricate and detailed fictional universe in his Middle-earth legendarium. His major works include "The Hobbit," "The Lord of the Rings," and "The Silmarillion," which are widely considered to be some of the greatest works of fiction ever written. Tolkien's impact on popular culture is far-reaching, with his works being adapted into multiple successful films, television series, and video games. In addition to his major works, Tolkien's other writings, including "The Children of Húrin," "Tales from the Perilous Realm," "The Adventures of Tom Bombadil," "Bilbo's Last Song," "The Shaping of Middle-Earth," and "The War of the Jewels" provide deeper insights into the mythology and legends that underpin his fictional universe. Tolkien's legacy continues to inspire generations of readers and writers alike, making him one of the most influential and beloved fantasy writers of all time.

    Facts & Data

  • Tolkien's works were heavily influenced by his personal experiences and interests, including his love of mythology, linguistics, and medieval literature.
  • The Lord of the Rings was initially rejected by publishers, but eventually became one of the best-selling novels of all time, with over 150 million copies sold worldwide.
  • The Hobbit, Tolkien's first published work, was originally intended as a children's book, but its popularity with both children and adults led to Tolkien's development of a more complex and mature mythology in The Lord of the Rings.
  • Tolkien's invented languages, including Elvish and Dwarvish, are complete and functional languages, with their own grammatical rules, vocabulary, and pronunciation.
  • Tolkien's legendarium includes not only The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, but also a vast body of additional works, including The Silmarillion, The Children of Hurin, and The History of Middle-earth.
  • The Silmarillion, published posthumously, provides a detailed history of Tolkien's imagined world, including the creation of the universe, the rise and fall of the Valar and the Elves, and the wars against the dark lord Morgoth.
  • Tolkien's works have had a profound impact on popular culture, inspiring countless imitators, adaptations, and spin-offs in film, television, and literature.
  • Tolkien's influence extends beyond fantasy literature, with his works inspiring musicians, artists, and even scientists. The term "ent" was adopted by botanists to describe tree-like plants, inspired by Tolkien's walking and talking tree characters.
  • Tolkien's works are deeply rooted in his Christian faith, with themes of sacrifice, redemption, and the battle between good and evil echoing biblical narratives.
  • Tolkien's works continue to inspire and captivate readers of all ages and backgrounds, cementing his place as one of the greatest literary figures of the 20th century.
    Related Posts

    "The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide" by Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond
    "J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography" by Humphrey Carpenter
    "The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien" edited by Humphrey Carpenter
    "Tolkien and the Great War" by John Garth
    "The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion" by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull
    Various academic articles and analyses of Tolkien's works, published in journals and books
    Interviews with Tolkien himself, as well as with his family, friends, and colleagues

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