BORN: January 3, 1892, Bloemfontein, Orange Free State (now part of South Africa)
DIED: September 2, 1973, Bournemouth, England
IDENTIFICATION: British writer and scholar best known for the authorillustrated children's book The Hobbit and its adult sequel The Lord of the Rings.
SIGNIFICANCE: As World War I raged, J. R. R. Tolkien began to create, as he put it, “a mythology for England.” The extensive web of tales and creation myths that he wrote as background, later published as The Silmarillion, give depth to The Lord of the Rings, the principal end product of his creative energies. Both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are quests, the former to gain treasure and territory, the latter to destroy a magical ring. Tolkien denied any allegorical intent in his works, but he wished readers to find in them applicability to their own life—as many millions have.