J. R. R. Tolkien’s grand tale became a hallmark masterpiece at age 62.


John Ronald Reuel Tolkien is a household name for his groundbreaking work of fantasy fiction, The Lord of the Rings. But, many people don’t know that he didn’t publish his most famous book until the age of 62. He was a veteran of the First World War and a retired English Literature professor, but his writing hobby would become his claim to fame later in his life. It’s the perfect example of how your own hobbies in retirement can lead to so much more.

“Still round the corner there may wait, A new road or a secret gate.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien first started writing for fun, composing fantasy short stories to entertain his children. He also liked to exercise his mind by inventing his own languages and using them to write songs and poems. He would eventually use some of these made-up languages in his books, adding to the richness and mystique of his fantasy worlds. Almost by accident, an employee of a London publishing firm found a copy of a book he wrote for his children, and his publishing career began.

As Tolkien’s popularity and fame grew in the 1960s, he continued writing his fantasy stories to help himself stay sharp and engaged in retirement. Ever the scholar, he always considered his fantasy writing a hobby. After his passing in 1973, his son Chris published dozens of his notes and unfinished works, including another of his best-known novels, The Silmarrillon.

Tolkien’s story is an inspired example of our #BestWithAge series, as his spirit shined brighter and brighter with each passing year. You never know, a dedication to a beloved hobby could be the catalyst for your next exciting adventure!

Photo Credit: Camera Press/Bill Potter

#BestWithAge A Blog Series About How the Human Spirit Shines Brightest with Time