The third and youngest son of author J.R.R. Tolkien and his wife Edith, Christopher Tolkien was born on November 21, 1924, in Leeds, England. Raised in Oxford, Tolkien attended the Dragon School and then the Oratory School. He also spent time at home with tutors because of a heart ailment. His father's work greatly influenced Tolkien's life as he listened to stories of the Middle-earth, the hobbit, and letters from Father Christmas, among many tales yet to be written down. As he grew older, Tolkien edited The Hobbit
for his father and was paid per correction found. He also worked on the maps of Middle-earth.
Tolkien's life changed course when he entered the Royal Air Force in 1943, yet his editing continued as his father sent him what would become The Lord of the Rings
to review. After World War II ended, Tolkien returned home to study English at Oxford University with his tutor, C.S. Lewis and then earned his bachelor's of arts degree in 1949. He took the position of lecturer and tutor for Old and Middle English and Old Icelandic at New College, Oxford, thus following his father's lead. Tolkien also edited several of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales
, and by the time he retired in 1975 because of his father's death, Tolkien had become a Fellow at Oxford.
Organizing the affairs and notes of J.R.R. Tolkien proved to take considerable time. The only surviving son, Tolkien asked for help from Guy Gavriel Kay to compile The Silmarillion
, which the elder Tolkien had intended to finish. Yet he died leaving the project incomplete. Tolkien edited the remainder of the book and had to take some liberties deciphering both his father's handwriting and his intent. Unfinished Tales
then followed before the twelve-volume The History of Middle-earth
was released over a 13-year time span. Even as of 2007 Tolkien still worked at his father's behalf by submitting The Children of H'rin
and seeing it published.
Tolkien closely guards his father's work. He didn't approve of the movie trilogy and disowned his son by his first marriage over the issue. This attitude has led to much criticism. Yet, without his intense interest in preserving J.R.R. Tolkien's legacy, readers would not have even glimpsed the worlds Tolkien had imagined and jotted down. For this dedication many readers are grateful.
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