His father died when he was young and his mother died when he was 16 so he and his brother were sent to live with caregivers. He was extremely bright and was given the opportunity to attend a very elite private school. It was there were he met three other students who'd all become like brothers to one another. They were raging against the machine so to speak as they were artists in one form or another and in their families eyes it was frowned upon because it wasn't a way to make a good living. One was a poet. One a composer. One an artist. Then there was Tolkien who wanted to be a writer.
All four of them ended up in WWI and two died in battle and one never really recovered mentally when he got home from the war. Tolkien was the only true survivor. He met a girl when he was in high school who lived at the same orphanage. They were together for 57 years and had four children.
It wasn't until he was 45 years old and a professor at Oxford, when he wrote: "The Hobbit" (1937), which was a major success. It took him 12 more years (1949), to finish: "Lord of the Rings." When he died in 1973 at the age of 81, he didn't know just how famous he'd become. His wife Edith had died less than two years before.
How Tolkien created the world that he did in his two amazing novels, is mind-blowing to me. He is what being an artist is all about. To not only see things we don't see, but also through one form or another, create visually what it is that they see so we can enjoy it as well.