The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on J.R.R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien is an internationally acclaimed author, academic, and philologist, best known for writing The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings series. He was born John Ronald Reuel Tolkien on January 3, 1892, in Bloemfontein, South Africa. After his father, a British banker, died from rheumatic fever in 1896, Tolkien’s mother returned home to the West Midlands in England with Tolkien and his younger brother, Hilary, in tow. She home-schooled her sons, with Tolkien a keen pupil who particularly enjoyed languages and botany. Tolkien studied English literature at Exeter College, and undertook military service at the Battle of Somme in World War I. He married Edith Bratt in 1916, and they had four children together. After producing a prolific output of fictional and scholarly works during his academic career as a professor at the University of Leeds and the University of Oxford, Tolkien died at age 81 on September 2, 1973. His many books set in the fictional world of Middle-earth have retained a devoted fan following, and The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings have since been transformed into award-winning Hollywood films.
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Historical Context of The Fellowship of the Ring

. The influence of Tolkien’s British upbringing is evident in the settings he creates for Middle-earth—for example, he revealed that he based his Shire landscapes on Victorian Warwickshire villages. Furthermore, his loathing of the industrialisation that encroached on his favourite childhood landscapes can be viewed in his depictions of evil industry in Middle-earth, with Mordor and Isengard reflecting the realities of factories and forges that belched fire in the Midlands near his Birmingham home. Although Tolkien repeatedly rejected the suggestions that his works are allegorical, The Lord of the Rings was likely influenced by his Christian upbringing and his experiences during World War I.

Other Books Related to The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring and the later volumes in The Lord of the Rings series draw heavily on elements from Norse, Germanic, Finnish, and Greek mythologies that Tolkien studied and then taught as a professor. He was also influenced by popular British authors including Shakespeare, William Morris, Charles Dickens, and George MacDonald. Tolkien notably founded the Oxford literary discussion group the Inklings, which included his friend C. S. Lewis, author of the Chronicles of Narnia series. Tolkein authored numerous works set in the world of Middle-earth: The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings were published during his lifetime, while his son Christopher posthumously published a number of his works including The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin. Tolkien is now regarded as a founder of high fantasy writing, and his works have influenced modern writers such as Terry Brooks, Ursula Le Guin, Stephen King, George R. R. Martin, J. K Rowling, and Christopher Paolini.
Key Facts about The Fellowship of the Ring
  • Full Title: The Fellowship of the Ring
  • When Written: 1937-1949
  • Where Written: Oxford, England
  • When Published: 1954
  • Literary Period: Modernism
  • Genre: Epic, fantasy
  • Setting: Middle-earth
  • Climax: Boromir attempts to seize the titular Ring from Frodo, resulting in Frodo’s decision to continue alone in the quest to destroy the Ring.
  • Antagonist: The Dark Lord Sauron
  • Point of View: Third-person omniscient

Extra Credit for The Fellowship of the Ring

Inventing Languages. Tolkien’s love of languages went beyond his proficiency in multiple Germanic, Slavonic, Romance, and Celtic languages. A professional philologist, Tolkien invented multiple languages for his Middle-earth universe, each with their own system of characters, grammar, and vocabulary.

A Way with Words. Through his job with the Oxford English Dictionary, Tolkien spent much of 1919-1920 detailing the history and etymology of words beginning with “w” and of Germanic origins—including the words waggle, walnut, and walrus.