3 January 1892—John Ronald Reual is born to Arthur
and Mabel Tolkien in Blemfontein, South Africa.
April 1895— Mabel travels with her two sons to
Birmingham, England to improve three-year-old Ronald’s health.
14 February 1896—Arthur, Ronald’s father, dies in
Summer 1896— Mabel and the boys move to the village
Sarehole, south of Birmingham, to rent a cottage she can afford on
Arthur’s merger pension.
June 1900- Mabel is received into the Roman Catholic
Church. The Protestant Tolkiens refuse to financially support Edith.
Early 1902- Mabel moves near to the Catholic
Birmingham Oratory where the boys will attend St. Philip’s Grammar
November 1902—Ronald is awarded a scholarship to
attend the King Edward’s School. While at King Edward’s, Tolkien forms
friendships with Christopher Wiseman, Rob Gilson, and G. B. Smith, who
together will form the TCBS (the Tea Club and Barrovian Society), a circle
who dream that they are given a mission by God to change the world.
14 November 1904—Mabel dies from diabetes at age
34. Her two sons become wards of Father Francis Morgan of Birmingham
oratory. Father Francis arranges for the boys to lodge with their Aunt
Beatrice Suffield. Tolkien continues at King Edward’s.
Early 1908—The Tolkien brothers move to lodgings
with Louis Faulkner. There Tolkien meets and eventually falls in love with
21 January 1910, Father Francis refuses to let
Tolkien and Edith continue to see each other until he comes of age in
1910-1911—Tolkien begins to write poetry.
July 1910—Tolkien passes exams for Oxford and
Cambridge Higher Certificate.
17 December 1910—Tolkien awarded a scholarship to
Exeter College, Oxford.
1911-1915—Tolkien studies Old and Middle English
and Old Norse while at Oxford.
January 1913—Tolkien and Edith reunite and agree to
marry in the future. Edith must agree to convert to the R.C.C.
October 1914-June 1915—Tolkien prepares with the
Officers Training Corps while at Oxford.
22 November 1914—Tolkien reads “The Voyage of Éarendel”
to the Essay Club at Exeter College.
27-28 April 1915—Tolkien writes “You and Me and
the Cottage of Lost Play,” a love poem for Edith.
June-July 1915—Tolkien sits for his exams and is
awarded First Class Honors in English Literature.
19 July 1915—Tolkien begins army training.
22 March 1916—Ronald and Edith are married by
Father Francis in the Church of St. Mary, Warwick.
5-6 June 1916—Tolkien reports for duty and departs
for Étaples, France. Soon after, he is attached to the Lancashire
17 July 1916—Tolkien learns from G.B. Smith’s
letter that Rob Gilson has been killed in battle.
28 October 1916—Tolkien, suffering from trench
fever, is taken to the Officers Hospital
9 November 1916—Tolkien removed to Birmingham for
December 1916—Tolkien placed on medical leave.
3 December 1916—G.B. Smith dies from wounds
sustained in war.
Late 1916-Early 1917—Tolkien begins to write the
first versions of The Book of Lost
Tales, and possibly as well his first notebooks for his language Qenya.
1 May 1917—Tolkien is placed on light military Home
1917-1918—Tolkien continues to convalesce in and
out of hospitals.
16 November 1917—Edith gives birth to John, the
Tolkiens’ first-born child.
November 1918—Tolkien joins the New English
Dictionary (The Oxford English Dictionary) and works on the W’s.
ca. 1919—Tolkien begins to work on The Children of Hurin.
15 July 1919—Tolkien officially discharged from
30 October 1919—Tolkien awarded his Master of Arts
21 July 1920—Tolkien appointed as Reader in English
Literature at University of Leeds.
October 1920—Tolkien publishes the poem “Goblin
22 October 1920—Michael, the Tolkiens’ second
child, is born.
Christmas 1920—Tolkien begins writing and drawing
his annual Father Christmas letters for his children.
11 May 1922—A
Middle English Vocabulary, which Tolkien complied to accompany Fourteenth
Century Verse & Prose is published.
1923—Several of Tolkien’s poems are published in
school journals and minor publishing projects.
21 November 1924—Christopher, the Tolkiens’ third
child, is born. Christopher is named for Christopher Wiseman.
23 April 1925—Sir
Gawain and the Green Knight, an edition by Tolkien and E. V. Gordon,
21 July 1925—Tolkien appointed the Rawlinson and
Bosworth Professorship of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, though he finishes out
the fall term at Leeds.
Summer 1925—Tolkien takes up work on his Lay
Early 1926—Tolkien begins the Kolbítars for Oxford
dons wishing to read Icelandic literature in the original.
April 1926—Tolkien completes a translation of Beowulf,
as well as one of Pearl.
11 May 1926—Tolkien and C.S. Lewis meet to discuss
Late 1927—Tolkien writes down his Roverandom, a tale he had been telling to his children.
ca. Summer 1928—Tolkien writes and draws Mr.
18 June 1929—Priscilla, the Tolkiens’ fourth
child is born.
Late 1929-Early 1930—Lewis sends Tolkien a detailed
critique of the first part of his Lay
ca. 1930-1931—Tolkien writes his versions of The
Lay of the Völsungs and The Lay
1930—Tolkien is writing another version of his
23 September 1930—Tolkien writes The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun .
ca. 1931—1932—Meetings begin that will form the
19-20 September 1931—Important dinner with Lewis
and Hugo Dyson that proves instrumental in Lewis’s conversion from
theism to Christianity.
Late 1932-Early 1933—Lewis borrows Tolkien’s
draft of The Hobbit (through the
death of Smaug).
17 June 1933—Tolkien confirmed as member of the
Icelandic Literary Society.
1934—Several poems by Tolkien published, including
Middle-Late 1934—Tolkien’s Chaucer as a Philologist: The Reeve’s Tale published in Transactions
of the Philological Society.
for Philologists, sixteen poems for his students is published in
pamphlet form by some of his students.
7 August 1936—Part of Tolkien’s translation of Pearl
read on BBC radio.
October 1936-October 1938—Tolkien awarded a
Leverhulme Research Fellowship.
25 November 1936—Tolkien’s lecture Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics is delivered to the British
Academy. He delivers it again 9 December 1936 to the Manchester Medieval
1 June 1937--
Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics published by Oxford UP.
21 September 1937—The
Hobbit published by George Allen & Unwin.
1937—Tolkien begins work on the sequel to The
Hobbit: The Lord of the Rings
1 January 1938—Tolkien lectures on dragons at the
Oxford University Museum.
14 February 1938—Tolkien reads a version of Farmer
Giles of Ham to the Lovelace Society at Worcester College, Oxford.
September-October 1938—Tolkien completes the
drafting of LOR as far as Tom Bombadil.
8 March 1939—Tolkien delivers his Andrew Lang
lecture, On Fairy-Stories, at
the University of St. Andrews, Scotland.
Autumn 1939—Tolkien drafts a version of the Council
of Elrond for LOR.
ca. 1940s—Tolkien writes Sellic
Spell, a story based on the events surrounding Beowulf.
15 June 1940—Michael Tolkien becomes an
anti-aircraft gunner in WWII.
Late 1941-Early 1942—Tolkien drafting the material
for Lothlórien in LOR through “The Scattering of the Company.”
Late 1942—Tolkien drafting early versions of Book
III of LOR.
1943-1944—Tolkien prepares edition of Sir Orfeo. In 1944, he also composes a modern translation of the
July 1943—Christopher Tolkien enters the Royal Air
December 1943—The last of the Father Christmas
letters is written.
April-May 1944—Tolkien drafts sections of Book IV
January 1945—Tolkien publishes Leaf by Niggle in the Dublin
15 May 1945—Death of Inkling member Charles
10 October 1945—Tolkien elected as fellow of Merton
Late 1945—Tolkien begins working on The Notion Club Papers.
December 1945- The
Lay of Aotrou and Itroun published in the Welsh
10 February 1946—John Tolkien, Ronald’s eldest,
is ordained a priest of the Roman Catholic Church.
Late 1946-1947—Tolkien returns to working on LOR.
4 December 1947—A revised version of On Fairy-Stories is included in Essays
Presented to Charles Williams.
August-September 1948—Tolkien drafts sections of
Book VI of LOR.
October 1949—Tolkien finishes typed manuscript of
LOR and gives it to Lewis to read.
20 October 1949—Farmer
Giles of Ham is published by Allen & Unwin.
9 July 1951—The revised Hobbit
is released in Britain after being released earlier that same year in the
1951-1952—Tolkien begins serious revisions to his
March 1953—Tolkien completes his translation of Sir
Gawain and the Green Knight.
15 April 1953—Tolkien delivers the W.P. Ker
Memorial lecture, Sir Gawain and the
Green Knight, at the University of Glasglow.
Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm’s Son published in Essays and Studies.
6, 17, 21, 30 December 1953—BBC broadcast of
Tolkien’s translation of Sir
Gawain and the Green Knight.
3, 7 January 1954—BBC broadcast of talk by Tolkien
on Sir Gawain.
29 July 1954—The
Fellowship of the Ring published. Published in the U.S. on October 21.
1 October 1954—C. S. Lewis appointed Professor of
Medieval and Renaissance English, Cambridge, a position Tolkien supported
Lewis in gaining.
11 November 1954—The
Two Towers published.
3 December 1954—BBC broadcast of The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm’s Son.
20 October 1955-The
Return of the King published.
21 October 1955-Tolkien delivers the O’Donnell
Lecture, English and Welsh.
November-December 1955—BBC broadcast of The Fellowship of the Ring.
November-December 1956—BBC broadcast of The Two Towers and The Return of the King.
ca. 20 February-6 March 1957—Tolkien translates
Jonah from the French for The
23 April 1957—Tolkien elected Royal Society of
1958-1960—Tolkien continues to work on The
5 June 1959—Tolkien delivers his valedictory
address at the University of Oxford.
Summer 1959—Tolkien retires from teaching and moves
to Sandfield Road.
Late 1959-Early 1960—Tolkien is writing the Athrabeth
Finrod ah Andreth.
February -May 1962—Tolkien purchases two of Cor
Blok’s paintings based on The Lord
of the Rings.
22 November 1962—The
Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book is
published with illustrations by Pauline Baynes with which Tolkien was
December 1962—Tolkien’s long-awaited edition of Ancrene
22 November 1963—C.S. Lewis dies.
4 March 1965—Tree
and Leaf published in United States.
May 1965--Ace Books publishes unauthorized editions
of The Lord of the Rings in the
October 1965—Ballantine Books publishes authorized
editions. Tolkien begins to receive a large amount of fan mail.
Summer 1965—Clyde S. Kilby works with Tolkien in
organizing The Silmarillion.
1966-The Tolkien Reader is
1966—Tolkien reads Smith of
Wootton Major at Blackfriars, St. Giles’, Oxford.
November 1966—Bronze bust of Tolkien is placed in the English Faculty
19 July 1967—Tolkien
awarded the A.C. Benson Silver Medal by the Royal Society of Literature
for outstanding services to literature.
1967—Tolkien records readings of poems for Poems
and Songs of Middle Earth.
31 October 1967—The
Road Goes Ever On: A Song Cycle by Donald Swann with additional
materials by Tolkien. Published by Allen & Unwin 14 March 1968.
November 1967—Smith of Wooton
Major published in U.S.
1968—Broadcast of film Tolkien in
Oxford, which Tolkien hated.
1968—Tolkiens move to Bournemouth in attempt to escape intrusions of
continues to work on The Silmarillion.
November 1971—Edith dies.
1972—Tolkien is granted rooms at Merton Street as a Residential Fellow.
28 March 1972—Queen Elizabeth II confers the CBE
medal (Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, Commander) on Tolkien.
1972—Tolkien is given the honorary Doctorate of Letters by Oxford
1973—Ediburgh University confers the honorary Doctorate of Letters upon
Tolkien, as well.
September 1973—J.R.R. Tolkien dies.
Father Christmas Letters, edited by Baillie Tolkien, is published.
Silmarillion, edited by Christopher Tolkien, is published.