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•Tolkien and Edith were married in March 1916, and in June 1916 Tolkien shipped out to the war. Tolkien later remarked that Sam Gamgee is modeled after the batmen, the servants assigned to each officer to care for the soldier and his kit.•WW I was a brutal war, with massive casualties and horrific mutilation of men, all of it experienced up-close. The violence and loss of life, as well as the vast scenes of desolation, affected Tolkien tremendously and can be seen in the many battle scenes in LOTR. Some of Tolkien’s school-day T.C.B.S. friends, with whom he’d remained close, were killed in battle. •A wartime letter from one of these friends proved the clarion call to Tolkien for beginning his great enterprise – to create an entire mythology and a specifically English one at that. Upon returning to England, Tolkien began “The Book of Lost Tales,” which became The Silmarillion. This mythology arose from the desire to give a people and a history to his invented languages.•Tolkien’s son John Francis Reuel was born in Nov. 1917, while Tolkien was still convalescing from the war. A year later, once he was discharged, Tolkien and his family returned to Oxford, where he was hired to work on the new Oxford English Dictionary project while completing his studies. His expertise in philology was a tremendous asset; he worked on the project for two years. Tolkien began to keep a diary written in an invented alphabet, Rúmil.•In 1920, Tolkien took up his first academic post, at Leeds University. Leeds was an industrial city not at all to Tolkien’s liking. In October, Edith, who was still in Oxford, gave birth to Michael Hilary Reuel. Their third son, Christopher Reuel, who would later become his father’s partial collaborator and executor of Tolkien’s literary estate, was born in Nov. 1924, just a few months after Tolkien was promoted to Professor of English Language. In 1925, he was hired as Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford.•The Tolkiens settled in a modest house on a street they would live on for 21 years, though in two different houses. Their fourth and final child, Priscilla Mary Reuel, was born in 1929. Tolkien’s days were filled with teaching, private instruction, his private writing, some scholarship (though he never produced as much scholarship as he was capable of, preferring to devote his energies and time to his developing imaginary creation), family
meals, gardening, and attending Mass regularly. He rode a bicycle to and from campus twice daily.•While at Oxford, an informal group formed called the Kolbítar, or Coalbiters, who would read and discuss Old Norse literature. C. S. Lewis was a member of this group.•Tolkien was a perfectionist, both in his scholarship and in his writing, which accounts both for the fact that he never published as much scholarship as he might have (though what he did was excellent) and for the very long time it took him to finish works of fiction – he could never let them go, polishing and revising for years. Much of what he began in both arenas he never completed.