[Originally posted on March 24th, 2015]
In case you haven’t figured it out, Tolkien’s world is very rich and very much alive with history. The stories he tells are interesting but also the story OF those stories is intriguing. He did not sit down and write out The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings and add in all of the history later. Professor Tolkien was very passionate about language (philology to be precise) and enjoyed, as most children do, making up his only languages and systems of writing. The first stories and origin of what would become the back drop for his most popular work, were written in a military hospital ward sometime during the First World War (1910s). He essentially began creating these stories and places to develop the languages he was inventing. He said the only way his languages would grow is if they had history and personality behind them, thus the stories found in The Silmarillion were born. In the 1930s, he began writing what would become The Hobbit, a children’s story not necessarily related to the older stories, but eventually gravitated to that history and was shaped to fit it. After the surprising success of The Hobbit, he decided to write a sequel that was more for adults and deeply rooted in his fictional histories. The Lord of the Rings was published in three separate volumes over the course of 1954-55. He referred very much to the original stories he had produced throughout LotR but these had not been published publically due to fears that the general audience would not care for such histories. After the obvious success of his work and the many requests for backstory and compendiums, Tolkien began compiling and revising his older work for publishing but died before he could see it in print. It was later published posthumously by his son Christopher under the title The Silmarillion with very little alteration by Christopher (though it was considered by him to be incomplete).