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The 1930's
The Birth of the Hobbit

The Birth of the Hobbit
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 7
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.03

     challenging words:    faulkner, all-time, parish, unsanitary, teaching, popularity, literature, banking, relationship, various, trench, priest, military, particularly, writing, series
     content words:    Great Britain, Harry Potter, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, South Africa, West Midlands, Gothic German, Edith Bratt, Exeter College, World War, Western Front

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The Birth of the Hobbit
By Jane Runyon

1     One of the all-time favorite fantasy series from Great Britain has been The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien. It was the most popular series before Harry Potter and his friends came on the scene. The Lord of the Rings took place in a world only known in the author's imagination. It was a place called Middle-earth. It was located somewhere between heaven above and the alternative below. The residents of this Middle-earth were humans, elves, dwarves, trolls, and goblins called Orcs. The Lord of the Rings was not published until 1954 and 1955. But the introduction to this imaginary world was published in 1937. This book was entitled The Hobbit.
2     John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (pronounced Tol-keen) was born in 1892 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. His father had brought his bride to South Africa in hopes of bettering his chances for a banking job in England. Some of Ronald's earliest memories of South Africa became part of his later books. Ronald and his mother had to return to England suddenly in 1896. Ronald's father had died. Mother and son returned to the West Midlands area of England to be near her family. The area was near the border to Wales. Ronald spent many an hour as a child watching trucks pass back and forth carrying coal to and from the Welsh mines.
3     The Welsh language particularly fascinated the young child. The names of towns such as Nantyglo, Penrhiweeiber, and Senghenydd were painted on the sides of the trucks. Folk tales he heard of times long past remained in his memory.
4     When Tolkien was just twelve years old, his mother died. He and his sister were cared for by a parish priest in the area until someone could be found to care for them. They were shuffled off to a not-so-very-nice elderly aunt. That didn't last long. They ended up living with a woman only known as Mrs. Faulkner. It was here that Ronald discovered that he had a great gift for languages. He learned Latin and Greek. He worked his way up to learning Gothic German languages and Finnish.
5     When he was only sixteen, Ronald fell in love with a young lady also staying in the home of Mrs. Faulkner. Her name was Edith Bratt. The parish priest, who had taken care of Tolkien, stepped in. He made Ronald promise not to see Edith until he had completed college. Ronald stayed true to his promise.

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