Growing Up with Grandpa J.R.R. Tolkien

By DeFiglio, Pam | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), December 11, 2003 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Growing Up with Grandpa J.R.R. Tolkien

DeFiglio, Pam, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)

Byline: Pam DeFiglio Daily Herald Staff Writer

When the third "Lord of the Rings" movie opens next Wednesday, fans will be scrambling to find seats in movie theaters.

Simon Tolkien grew up with something far better - a seat on the knee of his adoring grandfather, J.R.R. Tolkien, who wrote the trilogy and many other tomes.

When Simon was 8 or 9, he would ask his grandfather endless questions about the lands and people of Middle Earth, the fantasy setting of the novels.

"He was very patient in telling me about it. It seemed magical to me," recalls Simon, 44. The grandson lives in London, but often travels to the Midwest because his wife hails from St. Louis.

Simon remembers J.R.R. as warm, patient and loving. He thinks his grandfather especially took him under his wing after Simon's parents got divorced. Simon was five at the time.

"He was very sympathetic to me, and kind. It wasn't an easy time for me," Simon recalls.

Back then, they had more privacy because the Tolkien name wasn't as famous as it is now. Simon says he didn't ever feel fame until director Peter Jackson began filming the "Lord of the Rings" movies.

Before that, he can remember only one brush with fame. Simon was attending boarding school and his grandfather came to visit for the festivities of Guy Fawkes Day, an English holiday that falls on Nov. 5.

"Everybody was impressed that J.R.R. Tolkien came to school," he says. "That was the only time I had a strong sense of him being famous."

J.R.R. passed away when Simon was 13. He says he wishes he had had more time with his grandfather.

Like many of J.R.R.' s fans, Simon looked forward to the movies coming out. But after a lifetime of seeing the characters in his mind, seeing another conception on screen was a little jarring at first.

"I enjoy the movies more when they're focusing on the Hobbits in the Shire," he says.

"I thought Helms Deep was done well. But the characters of Sauromon (the wizard who tortures Gandalf in the first movie) and Elrond (the king of the elves) bear no relation to how I think about them."

The time the movies were being made was a period of personal upheaval and growth for Simon.

Although J.R.R. had four children, Simon's father, Christopher, had always managed the business affairs of J.R.R.' s literary legacy. Christopher opposed the making of the movies, but he couldn't stop them because J.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Growing Up with Grandpa J.R.R. Tolkien


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?