|J.R.R. Tolkien - A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter
In the 25 years since his death in September 1973, millions have read The Hohbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion and become fascinated about the very private man behind the books.
Born in Bloemfontein in January 1892, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was orphaned in childhood, brought up in near-poverty and almost thwarted in adolescent romance. He served in the First World War, surviving the Battle of the Somme, where he lost some of his closest friends, in which he was placed in a reserve battlion and therefore did not see any real action. After the war he returned to the academic life and achieved high repute as a scholar and university teacher. Tolkien eventually became Merton Professor of English at Oxford.
Then suddenly his life changed dramatically. One day while marking essay papers he found himself writing "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit"- and worldwide renown awaited him.
Humphrey Carpenter was given unrestricted access to all Tolkien's papers, and interviewed his friends and family. From these sources he follows the long and painful process of creation that produced The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion and offers a wealth of information about the life and work of the twentieth century's most cherished author.
description from the back-cover of the book
This biography is - "as I have found through frequent use" - indeed a great source of information about the life of Prof. Tolkien, one this great philologist, linguist and "author of the century". But it also contains a lot of background information about the creative process during his writing of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and tells the story from the earliest drafts of the mythology which became The Silmarillion and his decadelong struggle to have it published, which - unfortunately - did not happen until a few years after his death. I would not want to miss this book anymore... -- ChW