Edith Bratt (January 21, 1889-November 29, 1971) was the wife of J. R. R. Tolkien and the inspiration for Lúthien.
Edith Mary Bratt was born in Gloucester. Her mother Frances Bratt, then aged thirty, probably went to Gloucester from her home in Wolverhampton in order to avoid scandal, because the baby was illegitimate. Frances Bratt's family owned a boot and shoe manufacturing business. Edith's mother never married and the father's name was not mentioned on the birth certificate, though France's family knew who he was. Even if Edith knew her father's name she never passed it on to her own children.
Edith was brought up in Handsworth by her mother and the mother's cousin Jenny Grove. She was a talented musician and could play the piano very well. After her mother's death she was sent to a girls' boarding school that specialized in music. Having left the school she could have become a professional pianist, however, her guardian was not sure about what to do with her future. So he found her a room at Mrs Faulkner's where she, in fact, could hardly practise piano. But it was in this house that she met Ronald Tolkien in 1908.
Ronald and Hilary Tolkien were living at Mrs Faulkner's at 37 Duchess Road in Birmingham. Edith Bratt lived right beneath them. Humphrey Carpenter writes:
|She was remarkably pretty, small and slim, with grey eyes, firm clear features and short dark hair.|
|Humphrey Carpenter, JRR Tolkien - A Biography|
Edith was 19 years old, Ronald was three years younger. The two soon formed a close relationship.