J.R.R. Tolkien and Birmingham

Between 1895 and 1911, author J.R.R. Tolkien lived in Birmingham. Many places across Birmingham were his inspiration for world famous novels The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

This feature pulls together a wealth of source material on J.R.R. Tolkien's time in Birmingham, offers a map and trail and contains posts and imagery provided and submitted by our community. 

J.R.R. Tolkien is one of the best known authors in the world. His epic work The Lord of the Rings (published 1954-55) was voted the most popular book of the twentieth century. His children’s story The Hobbit (1937) is equally famous, and the two works have been translated into dozens of languages worldwide.

Tolkien lived in nine homes in the south of Birmingham during his formative years from 1895 to 1911, when he left to study at Exeter College, Oxford. Although he never lived in the city again, he referred to Birmingham as his home town and to himself as a ‘Birmingham man’. Later in life he explained that he drew inspiration for his writing from the people and landscapes of the city and the surrounding countryside.

Moseley Bog courtesy Elliott Brown.

Two Towers courtesy Daniel Sturley.

Sarehole Mill courtesy Elliott Brown

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on 3 January 1892 in Bloemfontien, now in South Africa. His parents, Arthur and Mabel Tolkien, were originally from Birmingham but had emigrated to further Arthur’s career in banking. In 1895 Mabel took Ronald and his younger brother Hilary to Birmingham to see their grandparents for the first time. Whilst they were visiting her parents in Kings Heath, Mabel received news that Arthur had contracted rheumatic fever. Sadly, he died before she was able to return to South Africa.

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Project dates

25 Aug 2020 - On-going


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