Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hobbit Crossword

Well I finally reread The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.  I am really looking forward to the movie that is now in production in New Zealand.  Peter Jackson is the director (thank goodness) after others that were interested in the movie dropped out.  I just got a look at the first day of filming which is posted on Peter Jackson's blog.  The sets are amazing!  He walks around the set of Rivendell and in some caverns where they most likely will film Bilbo's exchange with Smaug the dragon. 

What does this have to do with a crossword you ask?  While I was reading The Hobbit I made some notes on characters and such and created a crossword for the book.  At first I thought of doing more than one, but in the end I just went with a big crossword that covered the entire book.  Here it is with a very nice background:

You can find this crossword and many others at my store on Teachers Pay Teachers here:

Monday, July 18, 2011

Background of J.R.R. Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa on January 1892.  His father was in South Africa hoping to have better prospects of promotion as a bank manager.  When Tolkien was three years old he travelled with his mother and brother to see her family in England.  His father died of rheumatic fever before he could join them.  Without his father's income the family was basically destitute.  His mother returned to England with the two boys and lived with her parents in King's Heath. 

Although he basically grew up in poverty, J.R.R. Tolkien was taught many things by his mother including botany, and Latin.  He excelled at languages from a young age, and it could be said his later writings were exercises in linguistics.  He eventually studied at King Edward's School, Birmingham where he had won a scholarship.  His mother, despite her family's opposition, joined the Catholic Church.  Her family then cut off all finanacial assistance to her.  Tolkien remained Catholic throughout his life.  In 1904, his mother died of diabetes.  There was no insulin in those days and mid-thirties is about the longest one could live with type I diabetes.  Tolkien and his brother were then under the guardianship of Fr. Francis Morgan.

While at King Edward's school, Tolkien made some good friends who started a club called T.C.B.S. (Tea Club and Barrovian Society)  Throughout Tolkien's life, he remained loyal to small groups of friends who shared common interests.  The T.C.B.S was the first such group.  This group stayed in touch after leaving school and actually met together again in 1914.

Tolkien met Edith Bratt at age 16 when he and his brother moved into a boarding house where she lived.  She was also an orphan and the two took to frequenting the tea shops of Birmingham.  The relationship stalled, however, when Father Francis found out he was involved with a protestant girl.  He made contact with her forbidden until he was 21.  At 21, Tolkien wrote Edith a letter proclaming his intention to marry her.  Unfortunately, she was engaged to another man at the time.  Edith eventually did break off her engagement and married Tolkien in Warwick, England in 1916.

Tolkien did not readily enlist when England entered into World War I in 1914.  Instead, he completed his degree first.  He served in WWI in the British Army and survived the Battle of the Somme, where he lost many of his closest friends.  He eventually came down with trench fever which is spread in the unsanitary conditions in which he found himself.  His recovery was slow and his illness kept reoccurring.  It was during this time that he started writing The Book of Lost Tales.

Upon returning to academic life, he eventually became Merton Professor of English at Oxford.  He was close friends with C.S. Lewis and other writers who called themselves "The Inklings."   Tolkien's career and life changed drastically while he was doing the mind-numbing task of grading essay papers.  A student had left an answer blank and he found himself writing "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit"...

For more information on J.R.R Tolkien, I recommend an excellent biography by Humphrey Carpenter: