Born in South Africa, he moved with his mother and brother to the U.K. when he was three. His father died before he could join them. He went to study at King Edward`s School in Birmingham before later going onto study at Exeter College, Oxford. There he studied Classics then changed to English Language and Literature where he graduated with first class honours in 1913.
Tolkein met Edith Mary Bratt when he was sixteen. Courtship was many years mainly because his guardian banned him from seeing her for five years because she was a Protestant and he was a Catholic. He obeyed and when he reached twenty-one, he went to see her and declared his love for her. She was by that time already betrothed because she thought he was not interested in her. She decided to break off the marriage that she was destined to have and accepted Tolkiens marriage proposal. They were to marry three years later. They had four children John, Michael, Christopher and Priscilla. Christopher would later continue the stories of Middle Earth when his father past away.
He managed to put off enlisting in the army until 1915 where he would later serve as a Second Lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers. He would participate in the Battle of Thiepval Ridge, which took place between 26-28th September 1916, a small part of the much bigger Battle of the Somme. He left the army in November 1918 and took a job with the Oxford English Dictionary, specialising on words beginning with the letter W.
After leaving the Dictionary, he went to work as a Reader at Leeds University. There he studied Beowulf and a story regarding knights from King Arthur and his round table, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, Sir Orfeo. From there, he moved to Oxford University where he became Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, with a fellowship at Pembroke College. During his time at Oxford, he wrote the Hobbit and major part of the Lord of the Rings.
During the Second World War, he was invited to work for the Governments Cryptology department, although he took a course on Cryptology, he never worked as one during the war. He presumably stayed at Oxford, waiting for his services to be called upon.
After the war finished, he moved to Merton College, Oxford, where he became the Professor or English Language and Literature where he stayed until he retired. In 1948, he finally saw Lord of the Rings finished and published. Originally one book, the publishers persuaded him to release them as three separate books.
He retired in 1959 and moved with his wife to Bournemouth where he stayed until he died. Lord of the Rings can always be found in a list of the best books ever written.