Frodo almost straight-up murdered Gollum. In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, Peter Jackson originally ended the film with Gollum biting off Frodo’s finger and Frodo pushing Gollum off the ledge into Mount Doom. The scene was later re-shot due to Jackson and his co-writers feeling it was ‘un-Tolkein’ because “it flew in the face of everything he wanted his characters to be.” Source

Back when I was a studying biology, I noticed that a lot of anatomical terms sound like they come straight from Middle Earth. So, to celebrate the release of the last Hobbit film, I’ve created this INCREDIBLY nerdy quiz.

Do these words and phrases refer to parts of the human body, or reference people and places from J. R. R. Tolkien’s work?

  1. Antrum of Highmore
  2. Crypt of Morgagni
  3. Caves of Androth
  4. Lobelia
  5. Loop of Henle
  6. Scapha
  7. Great Vein of Galen
  8. Halls of Mandos
  9. Groin
  10. Gap of Calenardhon
  11. Macewen’s Triangle
  12. Canal of Schlemm
  13. Gerontius
  14. Islets of Langerhans
  15. Meckel’s Cave
  16. Chamber of Mazarbul

You shall not pass.


Day 1 - Where in the world?

Barney & I live in an old spa town in the county of Worcestershire, which is in England but not all that far from Wales.

It’s a bit of a quiet place but it’s very pretty. Very English :) Nothing terribly dramatic, or extreme. Just nice & pretty: green fields, scattered woodland & rolling hills, with well marked paths to walk on & plenty of nearby tearooms! 

C.S Lewis & J.R.R Tolkein both spent quite a lot of time here & were apparently inspired by the landscape - so we’re living in the home of Narnia & hobbits ;)

Beorn is a skin-changer from Tolkein’s The Hobbit; a man who could assume the appearance of a great black bear. 

Beorn was of immense size and strength for a man and lives with his his animal retinue (horses, dogs, sheep, and cows, among others) in a wooden house between the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood, to the east of the Anduin. According to Gandalf, Beorn “does not eat them; neither does he hunt or eat wild animals”. 

His origins lay in the distant past, and Gandalf suspected he and his people had originally come from the mountains. Gandalf speculated that Beorn belonged to an entire race of men who used to dwell in the mountains, all of whom possessed the ability to shapeshift into animals. However, when the Orcs infiltrated the Misty Mountains they gradually killed off all of the skin-changers through sheer weight of numbers, until only Beorn remained alive and ultimately had to flee the mountains and across to the eastern side of the Anduin river. Gandalf believes this theory about Beorn is correct, because one night from a distance he saw Beorn in his bear-form sitting on the Carrock, watching the Moon as it set behind the Misty Mountains to the west, and heard Beorn angrily growling in the language of the bears: “The day will come when they will perish and I shall go back!” Beorn built a new homestead for himself in an oak wood east of the Anduin River and west of Mirkwood, though he never attempted to cross to the west of the Anduin again because there were too many Orcs. Embittered against the goblins and the last survivor of his race, Beorn did not trust outsiders, did not answer many questions about himself, and was quick to anger, although Gandalf insisted that he was kind enough if humoured.

Classic Books the Signs Should Read
  • Aries: To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee
  • Taurus: Lord of the Flies, by William Goulding
  • Gemini: 1984, by George Orwell
  • Cancer: Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott
  • Leo: Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen
  • Virgo: Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley
  • Libra: Animal Farm, by George Orwell
  • Scorpio: The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas
  • Sagittarius: Tales of Edgar Allen Poe, by Edgar Allen Poe
  • Capricorn: Dracula, by Bram Stoker
  • Aquarius: Lolita, by Vladimir Nabokov
  • Pisces: The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. Tolkein

The cutest necklace that I own, a teeny tiny Hobbit book locket!


September 21st 1937: The Hobbit published

On this day in 1937, J.R.R Tolkein’s fantasy novel The Hobbit, or There and Back Again was published in the United Kingdom. The novel follows the adventures of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins, as he assists a group of dwarves to reclaim their homeland, and tries to claim a share of treasure guarded by the fearsome dragon Smaug. Tolkein, an academic at Oxford University, found inspiration for the novel in his studies of Old Norse mythology and language. Upon completion, Tolkein had several notable literary friends, including C.S. Lewis of Narnia fame, read the manuscript. The novel was published by George Allen & Unwin Ltd. in September 1937, with an initial run of 1,500 copies, which quickly sold out. The Hobbit was a great success, popular among adults and reviewers despite its childlike tone, and was nominated for the Carnegie Medal. The popularity of The Hobbit led Tolkein’s publisher to request a sequel, which became The Fellowship of the Ring (1954), the first book in The Lord of the Rings series. His work on these novels led Tolkein to amend certain portions of The Hobbit to accommodate Middle Earth lore introduced in the new books. The Fellowship of the Ring was followed by The Two Towers and The Return of the King, and the trilogy - along with its precursor The Hobbit - remain immensely popular literary classics.

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

Far over the misty mountains cold

To dungeons deep and caverns old

We must away ere break of day

To seek the pale enchanted gold.

The dwarves of yore made mighty spells,

While hammers fell like ringing bells

In places deep, where dark things sleep,

In hollow halls beneath the fells.

For ancient king and elvish lord

There many a gleaming golden hoard

They shaped and wrought, and light they caught

To hide in gems on hilt of sword.

On silver necklaces they strung

The flowery stars, on crowns they hung

The dragon-fire, in twisted wire

They meshed the light of moon and sun.

Far over the misty mountains cold

To dungeons deep and caverns old

We must away ere break of day

To find our long-forgotten gold.

Goblets they carved there for themselves

And harps of gold; where no man delves

There lay they long, and many a song

Was sung unheard by men or elves.

The pines were roaring on the height,

The winds were moaning in the night.

The fire was red, it flaming spread;

The trees like torches blazed with light.

The bells were ringing in the dale

And men looked up with faces pale;

The dragon’s ire more fierce than fire

Laid low their towers and houses frail.

The mountain smoked beneath the moon;

The dwarves, they heard the tramp of doom.

They fled their hall to dying fall

Beneath his feet, beneath the moon.

Far over the misty mountains grim

To dungeons deep and caverns dim

We must away, ere break of day,

To win our harps and gold from him!

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John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, best known as J.R.R. Tolkein, was born on January 3, 1892 in Bloemfontein, South Africa. After the death of his father, Arthur, Tolkien, his mother, Malben and brother moved to the country hamlet of Sarehole, in Birmingham, England. When his mother passed away in 1904, Tolkein and his brother were taken in by a relative and raised at a boarding home. Eventually his guardian became a Catholic priest in Birmingham. 

He studied at Exeter College, where he earned a degree in Anglo-Saxon and Germanic languages and classic literature. After graduation, he became a lieutenant in Lancashire Fusiliers and served in World War I. During this time Tolkein never stopped writing. Eventually he was released from duty due to an illness. 

In 1920 Tolkein continued his linguistics studies while he joined the faculty of the University of Leeds. He then became a professor at Oxford University. At Oxford he began a writing club called The Inklings. Among The Inklings members were literary greats, such as C.S. Lewis and Owen Barfield. Oxford University proved to be a place of inspiration for Tolkien. It was also there, where he came up with the idea of “a hobbit.” While grading a paper, he unexpectedly jotted the phrase “a hobbit” down. 

The Hobbit was published in 1937. Upon its introduction to the world, it was categorized as a children’s book, something Tolkien never intended. He was also responsible for the original art work; he created more than 100 drawings. 

What followed next became his masterpiece: The Lord of the Rings series. The Fellowship of the Ring, part one, was released in 1954; The Two Towers and The Return of the King was released the next year in 1955. His masterpiece introduced readers to a new world composed of new lands, elves, goblins, mystical creatures and new languages. The trilogy is a sophisticated piece of literature. Its plot structure is intricate, while creating a labyrinth of characters interconnected to the greater scheme of Tolkien’s fictional world. 

The Lord of the Rings became a global best seller. Tolkien fans are committed and born every day. There are societies devoted to learning his fictional languages and worlds. There is no doubt that Tolkien’s descriptive prose and knowledge of European mythology helped him achieved its classic status. His writing style was straightforward and unpretentious, a perfect recipe to follow when introducing a mysterious, complex world. C.S. Lewis explained it effortlessly in The Times, a British newspaper:

“The truth is that in this book a number of good things, never before united, have come together: a fund of humour, an understanding of children, and a happy fusion of the scholar’s with the poet’s grasp of mythology… The professor has the air of inventing nothing. He has studied trolls and dragons at first hand and describes them with that fidelity that is worth oceans of glib ‘originality.’”

Towards the end of his career in 1959, he published an essay, a poetry collection titled, Tree and Leaf, and Smith of Wootton Major, a fantasy story. J.R.R. Tolkien died on September 2, 1973. He left an unwavering legacy behind. His major works have been transformed into blockbuster films with devoted and curious fans. He is more relevant and successful today than during his lifetime. 


The Hobbit (1937)

The Lord of the Rings trilogy

The Fellowship of the Ring (#1) (1954)

The Two Towers (#2) (1955)

The Return of the King (1955)

The Silmarillion (1977)

Read excerpts by J.R.R. Tolkien here! Get his books here!