Books: Chronicles of Two Pen Pals; COLIN DURIEZ J.R.R Tolkien and C.S Lewis: The Story of Their Friendship (Sutton Publishing, Pounds 20)
Byline: CAROLINE WHEELER
THEY both came from humble beginnings and went on to become literary giants.
One spent his early life in the urban heartland of Birmingham, the other spent his formative years living on the fringes of Belfast.
But both grew up to be celebrated authors whose lives and works have inspired epic movies.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in South Africa on January 3, 1892, but moved to Birmingham with his family three years later.
'Tolers' -as he was known by family and friends -lived in various areas of the city, including Edgbaston and Kings Heath.
But it was not until his family moved to a small property opposite Sarehole Mill that Tolkien found somewhere he could really call home.
It was here that he fell in love with the Midland countryside which inspired Middle-Earth. It gave him his first glimpse of the area which would become hobbit homeland, the Shire.
'The Shire is very like the kind of world in which I first became aware of things,' Tolkien once reminisced.
'Just at the age where imagination is opening out, suddenly to find yourself in a quiet Warwickshire village, I think it engenders a particular love of what you might call central Midlands countryside.'
It was the start of a love affair with the region that which would lead Tolkien to write the Lord of the Rings trilogy, But his ideas for the novel, developed during boyhood, would never have come to fruition if it hadn't been for a special friendship that was was to change the face of English literature.
Midland author Colin Duriez tells the incredible story of the relationship between Tolkien and C.S Lewis for the first time in a book which takes the reader on a fascinating journey through their early lives.
Their first tumultuous meeting came in 1926 at Oxford University, where Tolkien had just taken up his post as Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon.
The encounter was not a success. Within minutes Tolkien offended Lewis by remarking: 'All literature is written for the amusement of men between 30 and 40. …