The son of English parents, Arthur Tolkien and Mabel Suffield, John Ronald Reuel and his brother Hilary were South African by birth. After the early death of his father, a bank clerk, Mabel returned with her sons to her childhood home of West Midland in England.
Not long after Mabel’s conversion to Catholicism, she was diagnosed with diabetes and died. John Ronald and Hilary were boarded with two different families until they became adults.
Even through this tumultuous upbringing, JRR Tolkien demonstrated his linguistic skills mastering Latin and Greek, as well as Gothic and Finnish. In his spare time he made up his own language and shared it with his friends and co-members of the Tea Club, Barrovian Society.
Completing his education, he served in World War I. After the war he worked various jobs until he eventually became a professor at Oxford. His academic career was unremarkable by Oxford standards. However, his social group was quite remarkable. The Inklings members included Own Barfield, CS Lewis and Charles Williams.
To read more about JRR Tolkien visit: http://www.tolkiensociety.org/