Tolkien, J. R. R. (John Ronald Reuel Tolkien)tälˈkēn, tōlˈ–, 1892–1973, British novelist, b. South Africa. A fantasy writer and Oxford don, Tolkien wrote The Hobbit (1937), adapted from stories he told his children. Some of the characters from The Hobbit reappear in The Lord of the Rings (1954–55), a trilogy in which he details the life, history, and cosmology of the mythological Middle Earth, and for which he invented several languages, most notably Elvish. He was also a respected medieval scholar.
See H. Carpenter and C. Tolkien, ed., The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien (1988); biographies by H. Carpenter (1977, repr. 2000), L. E. Jones (2003), and M. White (2003); studies by R. Foster (rev. ed. 2001) and T. A. Shippey (rev. ed. 2003).