The world of a J.R.R. Tolkien story is one of mystery, magic, romance, friendship, wars and meaning filled journeys. But what was the world of the real Tolkien like? How did a British born Catholic orphan who survived by the good will of others create not only languages, but a fantastical world which still enchants millions today? These are the questions that the new biographical drama Tolkien attempts to answer.
After the successive deaths of both of their parents, the custody of John Ronald and his brother is given to a Catholic priest. This man ensures that the two boys receive scholarships to a Birmingham school and lodging in the home of a wealthy widow.
In both these places he meets people who will influence and change his life. Despite Tolkien’s initial reluctance to be grafted into their circle, he soon forms a strong bond with students Geoffrey Smith, Robert Gilson and Christopher Wiseman. Together they form a club with the goal of changing the world through their artistic endeavours.
Tolkien also forms a strong attachment with his fellow boarder Edith. She relates to his orphan status and dependence on the charity of others. With her, he is himself, able to discuss his world of fantasy creatures and languages.
As it always does, life intervenes, first through the reality of Tolkien’s reduced circumstances, the expectations of his guardian and finally the advent of a World War. But it is the memories of these valuable relationships which sustain and inspire him.
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