The Tolkien Road

A podcast about Middle-earth and all things Tolkien.

0220 – The Life of JRR Tolkien – Part 2: 1917 – 1936

The years between Tolkien’s World War I experience and the publication of The Hobbit may, at first glance, seem less important than the other eras of his life. However, it was during this period that Tolkien established himself as a highly regarded philologist, befriended CS Lewis, and undertook a focused development of the Middle-earth legendarium. Join us, as we continue our exploration of the life of JRR Tolkien.

This episode is executive produced by Kaitlyn of Tea With Tolkien!


On episode 220, we continue our exploration of Tolkien’s life story, focusing on the years of 1918 – 1936, which encompass his early academic career, the start of his friendship with CS Lewis, and the beginnings of the Middle-earth legendarium.

News Items

LOTRONPRIME ADDS 20 NEW CAST MEMBERS – Amazon adds 20 new actors to its Second Age TV epic. Lots of (relative) unknowns (a good thing!), but one has a connection to a Jackson film!

PROJECT NORTHMOOR – Support the campaign to save JRR Tolkien’s home and establish a literary centre. 20 Northmoor Road is his former home in Oxford where he wrote The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

1918 – 1936: After the War, Before the Hobbit

FATHERHOOD – Tolkien’s 4 children were born during this period: John (1917), Michael (1920), Christopher (1924), and Priscilla (1929).

OXFORD ENGLISH DICTIONARY – Tolkien’s first post-war job was editing the Oxford English Dictionary, with a specific focus on the letter W.

LEEDS TO OXFORD – Tolkien began his academic career in 1920 at the University of Leeds. He was the youngest professor at the University. In 1925, he took a role as a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College of Oxford University.

BEOWULF – Tolkien finished a translation of Beowulf in 1926, a work which was not published until 2014. A decade later, he delivers the pivotal lecture “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics”, which is still considered a landmark work in the study of Beowulf.

C.S. LEWIS – Tolkien and Lewis meet at a faculty meeting in 1925. It took a few years, but they eventually became close friends, and started the Inklings. In 1931, a fateful conversation between the two leads to Lewis’ conversion to Christianity.

MIDDLE-EARTH: In 1917, Tolkien begins The Book of Lost Tales, which can be seen as the unofficial starting point of the Middle-earth legendarium. It includes early versions of The Children of Húrin, The Fall of Gondolin, and Beren and Lúthien.


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