Free Press Journal

Remembering JRR Tolkien on his 125th birth anniversary


December 1956: British writer J R R Tolkien (1892 - 1973), enjoying a pipe in his study at Merton College, Oxford, where he is a Fellow. Original Publication: Picture Post - 8464 - Professor J R R Tolkien - unpub. (Photo by Haywood Magee/Picture Post/Getty Images)

New Delhi: “Not all those who wander are lost.”

When JJR Tolkien penned these lines, little did he know that they will continue to resonate with generations to come.

Tolkien, whose 125th birth anniversary is being celebrated today, casts a long shadow on the popular culture with his books — “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” — being turned into blockbuster movies.

If JK Rowling gave millennials a decadent slice of witchcraft and wizardry with the “The Harry Potter” series, Tolkien is someone who has always been in the fantasy backdrop as the quiet yet resolute founding father of the world of make-believe.

Tolkien, born as John Ronald Reuel Tolkien 3 January 1892, created a bond with his readers by walking them through the parallel universe of Middle Earth.

Such was his hold on fantasy that everything that has been written in the genre after him is compared to his legacy, be it Rowling’s boy wizard or George R R Martin’s epic fantasy book series “A Song of Fire and Ice”, which led to the HBO money-spinner “Game of Thrones”.

“I admire Tolkien greatly. His books had enormous influence on me…” Martin had said about the author.

Director Peter Jackson, who has churned out six movies on both “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit”, first encountered the Tolkien’s work on a train ride and thought of recreating the universe on celluloid.

“I think it was 1978 or 1979 when I first read the books… And I thought, what on Earth can I do on this 12-hour train journey? So I bought myself ‘The Lord of the Rings’.

“I thought, wow, this will make a great film, I can’t wait until somebody else makes it. I never ever dreamt it would be me.”

If one swears in the name of ‘old Gods and new’, there’s no match to Tolkien’s “legendarium” even today.