Books on JRR Tolkien's Life (autobiography)

Discussion in 'J.R.R. Tolkien : The Creator of Middle-earth' started by Prince Ashitaka, Feb 2, 2018.

  1. Prince Ashitaka

    Prince Ashitaka Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2018
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    London UK
    Hello, Middle-Earth peeps - newbie on here.

    Being a fan of Tolkien (I'm sure everyone here is) I'd like to learn and study the man a lot more. I'd like to know about his early life, where he studied, upbringing and when and how he started his writing. Ideally, see the progressing of his writing and the journey to getting it published. Any interviews would be great.

    I know there are quite a few Tolkien biography books out there. Some are out of print or difficult to get hold of. Can you recommend any good books on Tolkien?

    Thanks!
     
    1stvermont likes this.
  2. Erestor Arcamen

    Erestor Arcamen Archivist Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2004
    Messages:
    885
    Likes Received:
    74
    Trophy Points:
    28
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Pennsylvania, United States
    Home Page:
    This one by Humphrey Carpenter is the official/authorized one. I've read it and it's very good.

     
    Sir Gawain d'Orchany likes this.

  3. Prince Ashitaka

    Prince Ashitaka Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2018
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    London UK
    Thanks for the recommendation I think I'll grab a copy of that!

    Have you read 'The Road to Middle-Earth' do you think this would be a good guide to Tolkien?
     
  4. Galin

    Galin Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Messages:
    722
    Likes Received:
    189
    Trophy Points:
    43
    I haven't read The Road To Middle-Earth but I hear (!) it's generally not that great regarding accuracy. Edit: my mistake -- see below

    Anyway I'd start with Carpenter, as already suggested...

    ... then if you really want to go wild, start digging into any books written by Hammond and Scull. They have written, for examples, a book on Tolkien as an illustrator, and a notably thick tome called "Chronology" (part of a two volume guide to JRRT and his works) concerning Tolkien's life that, honestly, made me go... wow... how did they dig up that much!
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2018
    Erestor Arcamen likes this.

  5. Prince Ashitaka

    Prince Ashitaka Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2018
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    London UK
    That's disappointing to hear. Because the symopsis sounded really good.

    I heard of the Hammond and Scull books but they are quite expensive if only they had an affordable version.
     
  6. Galin

    Galin Registered User

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2004
    Messages:
    722
    Likes Received:
    189
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Ooops! The Road To Middle-Earth... that's Tom Shippey's book. I have it, and recommend it!

    :)

    I was thinking (wrongly) about J.R.R. Tolkien Architect of Middle Earth by Daniel Grotta.
    To be fair, I shouldn't say anything about Grotta's work if I haven't read it, but as I already did say something... well, again, this is the one that I hear could be more accurate.

    Sorry!
     
  7. Prince Ashitaka

    Prince Ashitaka Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2018
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    London UK
    Ah brilliantly! That's good to hear because The Road to Middle-Earth sounds really good.

    I'll definitely look at getting both books

    :)
     
  8. Starbrow

    Starbrow Tolkien Fan

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2003
    Messages:
    1,242
    Likes Received:
    72
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Occupation:
    teacher
    Location:
    Wootton Major
    Home Page:
    I just finished the book A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and a Great War by Joseph Loconte that I got for Christmas. It discusses how World War I influenced the writings of Tolkien and C. S. Lewis. It gave me a greater appreciation of Tolkien's books.
     
  9. Prince Ashitaka

    Prince Ashitaka Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2018
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    London UK
    I never heard of this book. That's interesting to know I'll have to pick this up.

    Just noticed this book is out of print. Will have to try and source this from somewhere
     
  10. 1stvermont

    1stvermont Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2017
    Messages:
    47
    Likes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Shire

    As a poster said carpenter is a great start.

    https://www.amazon.com/J-R-R-Tolkien-Biography-Humphrey-Carpenter/dp/0618057021/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1519003048&sr=8-1&keywords=carpenter bio of tolkien


    I would add his bio on the inklings as well

    https://www.amazon.com/Inklings-Humphrey-Carpenter/dp/0007748698/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1519003118&sr=1-1&keywords=the inklings

    and maybe most important, Tolkiens letters.

    https://www.amazon.com/Letters-J-R-...rd_wg=Q5C13&psc=1&refRID=TATTD5T6S3PE5EV803EQ



    you want to know and meet tolkien, these 3 books will do that.
     
  11. Prince Ashitaka

    Prince Ashitaka Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2018
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    10
    Trophy Points:
    8
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    London UK
    Perfect! Thanks, these are just what I need. Will save up and get these books.
     
  12. Squint-eyed Southerner

    Squint-eyed Southerner Currently in hiding

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2018
    Messages:
    245
    Likes Received:
    218
    Trophy Points:
    43
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    USA
    Browsing old threads again. I should stop-- the urge to necropost is fatally irresistible!

    Grotta. Ha. To be fair, his original edition (the one I read) was early -- 1976-- so before even the Silmarillion, and suffers in retrospect, though more than some other studies of that era. From the reviews I see, though, it sounds as if the 2001 edition wasn't much of an improvement.

    I will say that it was there that I first saw the story of the Ace Books editions laid out in full form -- assuming that's accurate.

    One thing I was annoyed with him about was his criticism of another early study by Randall Helms, which I found very useful. He applied several negative adjectives to it, the only one of which I remember being "dogmatic". I don't know where he got that, unless he meant "schematic", which it is, in part. The following decades of criticism have brought the schematics of both The Hobbit and LOTR more and more to light (in Shippey, for example), so that sort of accusation would be silly.

    Possibly he simply disliked critical analysis of of the books, an attitude displayed in aggressive (if self-contradictory) form by Orson Scott Card. That's one way of looking at things, I suppose, but one I find incomprehensible.

    My problem with Carpenter is that he ran out of material, and so decided to just make stuff up. That's a bit harsh, maybe -- you could call it an "informed speculative reconstruction", but the fact remains that a large chunk of the later part of his biography is fiction.

    Of more recent work, I'd certainly recommend the well-researched "Tolkien and the Great War:

    https://www.amazon.com/Tolkien-Great-War-Threshold-Middle-earth/dp/0618574816
     
    Last edited: May 23, 2018
  13. Rilien

    Rilien Registered User

    Joined:
    May 20, 2006
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    3
    Location:
    Tol Eressea

Share This Page