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Born: December 7, 1989
Wokingham, Berkshire, England, UK
Born: January 3, 1892
Birthplace: Bloemfontein, Orange Free State
Death: September 2, 1973, Bournemouth, England, UK (bleeding ulcer and chest infection)
Pictured at age 19
Born: March 18, 1989
Guildford, Surrey, England, UK
Born: January 21, 1889
Birthplace: Gloucester, England, UK
Death: November 29, 1971, England, UK
Belfast, Northern Ireland
Birthplace: Birmingham, England, UK
Death: November 14, 1904, Rednal, UK (type 1 diabetes complications)
Born: April 19, 1995
Robert Quilter 'R.Q.' Gilson
Death: July 1, 1916, Northern France (WWI shell burst in Battle of the Somme)
T.C.B.S. member (artist)
Born: June 8, 1994
Belfast, United Kingdom
Geoffrey Bache 'G.B.' Smith
Born: October 18, 1894
Death: December 3, 1916, France (complications from shrapnel wound)
T.C.B.S. member (poet)
Born: February 7, 1995
Born: April 20, 1893
Birthplace: Edgbaston, Birmingham, England, UK
Death: July 25, 1987, Milford-on-Sea, England, UK
Born: May 30, 1953
Father Francis Xavier Morgan
Born: January 18, 1857
Birthplace: El Puerto de Santa María, Cádiz, Spain
Death: 1935, Birmingham, UK
Legal guardian of J.R.R. Tolkien
Born: October 22, 1938
Leytonstone, London, England, UK
Professor Joseph Wright
Born: October 31, 1855
Birthplace: Idle, Bradford, England, UK
Death: February 27, 1930 (pneumonia)
Tutor of Tolkien at Oxford
Yes. The true story behind the Tolkien movie reveals that prior to her death, Mabel Tolkien taught her two children at home. Ronald, as he was known to the family, was an apt pupil and was taught languages (including Latin), botany, and was encouraged to read many books, including fantasy stories. Mabel introduced her son to the myths and legends that would inspire his own future writing.
A Tolkien movie fact-check reveals that this scene is likely fictional. His school days were dramatized for the movie. There is also no evidence that having some friends over to play billiards turned into a moment of rebellion against authority.
In 1911, J.R.R. Tolkien formed the tiny four-person society with friends Geoffrey Bache Smith, Robert Gilson and Christopher Wiseman while attending King Edward's School in Birmingham together. Like in the movie, the Tolkien true story confirms that this brotherhood of aspiring poets and artists often discussed art and literature while daydreaming about their futures.
As seen in the film, they often met and drank tea at Barrow's Stores near school, which inspired the name of their society. They also met in secret in the school library. After graduating, the four members stayed in touch. They met again in December 1914 at Christopher Wiseman's home in London. The meeting encouraged Tolkien to focus on writing poetry. His membership in the T.C.B.S. inspired the nine-member Fellowship in his Lord of the Rings novels.
This is mostly accurate. The Tolkien movie true story confirms that this scene is based on a real-life incident. Tolkien and Edith did toss sugar cubes into people's hats. However, in real life, they sat on a balcony at the teahouse and tossed the cubes into the hats of people walking by on the pavement down below.
Yes. In separating the Tolkien movie's facts and fiction, we learned that he was indeed forbidden from having a relationship with Edith, 19, in part due to her older age and affiliation as a Protestant. Like in the film, Father Francis, Tolkien's guardian, also wanted him to focus on his studies, including his plans to attend Oxford. He wasn't allowed to see Edith until he turned 21.
Fact-checking Tolkien confirms that he did steal a bus, but there weren't any girls there to impress.
No. This is an entertaining scene in the movie, but we found no evidence that it actually happened in real life.
No. The movie implies Tolkien and his friends went straight to war. However, in real life, Tolkien delayed joining the military long enough to draw criticism, especially from relatives. "In those days chaps joined up, or were scorned publicly," he said years later in a letter to his son Michael. "It was a nasty cleft to be in for a young man with too much imagination and little physical courage." Tolkien delayed enlistment until he completed his degree in July 1915, almost a year after Britain entered the First World War. He left the training camps of England and arrived in France in June 1916. He spent four months in the trenches at the Battle of the Somme but was sidelined after catching trench fever. He was sent home to England in early November to recover, but he suffered relapses that kept him from fighting in the rest of the war.
No, at least we found no evidence of Tolkien mentioning this. The movie uses CGI to show the audience Tolkien's hallucinations of dragons, smokey monsters, and cloaked figures riding on horseback across the battlefield, which foreshadow some of the inhabitants of his future stories. The real Tolkien didn't mention having such hallucinations after catching trench fever, a highly contagious disease transmitted by body lice.
The illness and his ensuing health problems (fever, headaches, leg pains, rashes, eye inflammation, etc.) resulted in him either being in hospital or in home service camps for the rest of the war, which may have very well saved his life (The Guardian). In fact, the 11th Battalion Lancashire Fusiliers with which he had been part of was struck by German mortar fire, leaving many of them wounded. This was followed by a "massive bombardment" of its frontline. Tolkien wasn't the only famous author to have suffered from trench fever. C.S. Lewis and A.A. Milne also contracted trench fever during World War I.
Yes. The true story behind the Tolkien movie confirms that two of the four members of the Tea Club, Barrovian Society were killed in the Great War. This includes artist Robert 'R.Q.' Gilson and poet Geoffrey 'G.B.' Smith. Gilson was killed by a shell burst on the first day of the Battle of the Somme on July 1, 1916. He was one of 6,380 British casualties from the 34th Division, on what became the deadliest day of battle in British Military history. Several months later on November 29, 1916 near the village of Souastre on the Doullens in France, G.B. Smith was hit by shrapnel when the 19th Battalion was shelled. He suffered severe wounds to his right arm. As his wounds became more worrying, his condition deteriorated and he died on the morning of December 3.
Just prior to his death, G.B. Smith wrote a letter to J.R.R. Tolkien:
My chief consolation is that if I am scuppered tonight there will still be left a member [of our school group] to voice what I dreamed and what we all agreed upon. For the death of one of its members cannot, I am determined, dissolve [the group]. Death can make us loathsome and helpless as individuals, but it cannot put an end to the immortal four! May God bless you my dear John Ronald and may you say things I have tried to say long after I am not there to say them if such be my lot.
G. B. S.
Yes. Despite numerous obstacles early on in their relationship, our Tolkien movie fact-check confirmed that he married Edith Bratt and they remained together for the rest of her life (Edith died first). They had four children together: John Francis (b. 1917), Michael Hilary (b. 1920), Christopher John (b. 1924), and Priscilla Anne (b. 1929). Their son Christopher was named after T.C.B.S. member Christopher Wiseman.
Edith passed away in 1971 after being married to Tolkien for more than 50 years. According to Tolkien's grandson Simon, he sometimes seemed sad and expressed how much he missed her. J.R.R. Tolkien died in 1973, just 21 months after Edith.
No. The film wasn't officially authorized by the Tolkien estate, but neither were The Lord of the Rings movies and those films won Oscars. In the month prior to the biopic's release, the Tolkien Estate put out a statement explaining that the family "did not approve of, authorize, or participate in the making of this film" and "they do not endorse it or its content in any way." A spokesman for the estate said that they did not plan to take legal action, but they don't want people to confuse the director's dramatization with historical fact. -The Guardian
Peer deeper into the true story by watching a video of J.R.R. Tolkien discussing The Lord of the Rings, in addition to some of his other interests.