My Most Inspirational Writers – JRR Tolkien

Tolkien is the reason I write. I first read The Lord of the Rings when I was 13/14. My mum got me the set of books with The Hobbit for Christmas. Because it was so well wrapped and an odd size, I couldn’t figure out what the gift was. It was heavy and felt completely solid. The wrapping paper was shiny forest green, plain; I think she’d run out of Christmas wrapping paper. That just made it all the more mysterious. I left that present until last and when I finally opened it I couldn’t have been more thrilled. A box set of books! I had absolutely no idea what a hobbit was and what The Lord of the Rings was about but I started to read them straight away.

I have vague recollections of the Ralph Bakshi film made in 1978 but I was too young to follow the story so I didn’t make any connections between that and the books I now owned until I met Gollum in The Two Towers. Then it clicked (for some reason his appearance in The Hobbit didn’t register). Of course once I’d finished the books I wanted to watch the film again and when I did I was a little disappointed. Looking back it was actually pretty good considering when it was made and the ambitiousness of the project but all I noticed at the time was that the hobbits all had seventies hair cuts. That just ruined the experience.

I read The Hobbit and thought it was a nice little story. I especially liked Smaug and Beorn. Then I read The Lord of the Rings, which is much more grown up, and I was lost in Middle Earth. I remember staying up late after I should have been asleep, reading the last few chapters. I shed a few tears at the end, devoured the Appendices and then immediately read the whole thing again. I didn’t want it to end, I felt like the characters were friends. In hindsight I think it was the escapism I craved because life wasn’t all fun and games in our household.

This also spurred me to start creating my own stories, something I liked to do anyway, but now I realised just how far you could go with creating a new world. Everything I wrote for the next few years was a poor imitation of Tolkien’s work and I cringe when I think back but at the time I just needed to get lost in a different fantasy world.

I still get lost in fantasy worlds but now it’s because I want to. I read The Lord of the Rings every couple of years, the same copy I got that Christmas. The books don’t all fit in the box any more and the spines are cracked but I will never ever throw them away. It’s the only story that I know so well that I can read over and over again, even though I know exactly what’s coming. It’s just magical.

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5 thoughts on “My Most Inspirational Writers – JRR Tolkien

  1. Tolkien is a major inspiration for me too. Like you I first read his work in my early teens, and re-read fairly regularly. He did more than inspire my writing and reading tastes though. Because I wanted to know more about him and his inspiration, Tolkien affected my worldview. In addition, if I hadn’t already been set on a career in the sciences, I think I’d have studied literature, languages and history. Although I am, now in my thirties, going back to that having discovered that the sciences – career wise – aren’t for me though I still love them.

    • I was pretty much the same actually! I always wanted to study literature and history deep down but I was drawn by science as well,thinking it was the more “practical” subject. I too am in my thirties and going back to my art roots, having not done anything useful with science (though, like you, I still find it fascinating). I’ve just started a literature course and I’m absolutely loving it. I don’t regret not doing it earlier though. Maybe I needed to mature a bit before I could really appreciate it.

      Thanks for your comment 🙂

  2. I think Tolkien is inspiration for many people, just for the sheer weight behind his books. I know I’d love to create a whole fantasy world that felt so real and had languages and cultures, etc. Not only did he create an amazing detailed world but the stories to go along with it. Great post 🙂

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