John Ronald Reuel (often called “J.R.R.”) Tolkien was born in 1892 in what is now South Africa. His parents were both English. He returned to England with his family as a boy. His father died when John was only three years old. The family moved around England. Tolkien spent his childhood exploring new towns and places that they moved to. Later in his life, Tolkien used these places as scenery in his books. He loved to read books and write.
When World War I came, Tolkien got married and then signed up for the British army. He fought in several terrible battles and got very sick. He returned to England when the war ended. Soon after, he entered Pembroke College in Oxford, England. There, he wrote several books.
The first book was called The Hobbit. It was a fantasy novel set in a world called Middle Earth. It was a magical place with strange races and creatures. The book was about Bilbo Baggins, who went on an adventure to find a treasure protected by a dragon named Smaug. It was published in 1937.
He also started to work on a collection of three books called The Lord of the Rings. Like The Hobbit, these books are also set in Middle Earth. They have a much more serious tone than The Hobbit. The Lord of the Rings features a war between good and evil. A brave group tries to destroy a ring with evil powers. Tolkien finished writing the series in 1948. It was published in 1954.
All of these books became very popular, especially in the 1960s. Tolkien was a very private man and was uncomfortable with the attention he received. He moved with his wife to a small city in England called Bournemouth to escape from his sudden fame. Tolkien died in 1971. Although his books were written many years ago, he endures as one of the most famous fantasy writers in the world.