Wednesday, January 03, 2007

J R R Tolkien's birthday

I'm starting a new item on my Blog this year - I shall be commemorating (where I know them) the birthdays (and sadly death days) of various children's writers (and illustrators).

And today it's the birthday of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, who was born in South Africa (1892). He was a professor of Philology, the study of the derivation of languages, at the University of Oxford. He was fluent in classical Greek and Latin, Old Norse, Old English, medieval Welsh and Anglo-Saxon, and an ancient form of German called Gothic, amongst other ancient European languages. He was so interested in the structure of language that he decided to invent an entire language of his own. He even invented a new alphabet to write in that language, and when he began writing The Lord of the Rings, he gave that new language to the Elves,
calling it "High Elvish." He later said, "I wrote Lord of the Rings to provide a world for the language. ... I should have preferred to write the entire book in Elvish." (Letters)

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