Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Review: Tolkien How an Obscure Oxford Professor Wrote The Hobbit and Became the Most Beloved Author of the Century by Devin Brown

J.R.R. Tolkien transformed his love for arcane linguistic studies into a fantastic world of Middle Earth, a world filled with characters that readers the world over have loved and learned from for generations.
Devin Brown focuses on the story behind how Tolkien became one of the best-known writers in the history of literature, a tale as fascinating and as inspiring as any of the fictional ones he would go on to write. Weaving in the major aspects of the author’s life, career, and faith, Brown shares how Tolkien’s beloved works came to be written.
With a third follow-up film and the book’s release the same month, there’s a large interest in the faith values for these works. This book addresses that deep hunger to know what fuels the world and worldview of The Hobbit’s celebrated author, Tolkien.

I am a fan of The Lord of the Rings series, but while I've read up before on how Tolkien developed the languages he used in the book, I didn't really know too much about his life.

In Tolkien  How an Obscure Oxford Professor Wrote The Hobbit and Became the Most Beloved Author of the Century, readers learn more about Tolkien's life and the origin of his works. The book begins with his birth and includes stories from his youth, his time at school and at war, as well as the development of his works. The book includes excerpts from his works and letters to and from him, as well as about him.

The tone of the writing, and the use of excerpts from his books and letters, helped keep this book from becoming a rather dry biography of a great author. I appreciated this a lot because this was part of the reason why before this, I didn't really know much about him and a few of the things I've learned, I've already forgotten by now.

There were a lot of amazing things that I learned upon reading this book. One of this was how the biggest role played in the publication of The Hobbit belonged to a the young son of the owner of the publishing house Allen & Unwin. Really, the turn of events that led to the publication seem to indicate that it was meant to be published, like an unseen hand was guiding people to make it happen.

Another surprising thing for me was learning that at the beginning of their friendship, C.S. Lewis was an atheist and that it was partly through Tolkien's influence that C.S. Lewis became a believer of Christ.

One story, though, that I didn't find surprising was that The Lord of the Rings pretty much had a life of its own and Tolkien himself was surprised by where the story was going. The best stories tend to be that way.

The last part of the book contains some trivia about Tolkien and his writing. It's basically a TL;DR version of the rest of the book. There's also a list of fourteen Tolkien sites that were of importance in some way to Tolkien's life.

Thanks to NetGalley and Abingdon Press for the e-ARC.


  1. It includes all the necessary details of Tolkien's life.
  2. It gives you a better understanding of the man and his work.
  3. It's interesting to see the origin of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.


  1. I would have preferred if the portion at the end included at least some new trivia that wasn't mentioned in the rest of the book.


  1. You're a fan of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
  2. You want to learn more about Tolkien but don't want to read a long, boring documentary.
  3. You've wondered about how Tolkien came up with the idea for his works. 




Note: This post contains Amazon and Book Depository affiliate links.


  1. Might have to look into this. I have a good short bio of him in the library that does occasionally get checked out. Students keep losing my newer copies of his books, though!

    1. Hi, Ms. Yingling. Yes, you should definitely give this book a try. The language is accessible so I think even pre-teens or younger kids can understand it and enjoy it. :)


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...