by HB Auld, Jr.
Today is September 22nd. Happy birthday to Bilbo and Frodo Baggins, cousins who are hobbits of the Shire in John Ronald Reuel Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
Tolkien is famous for his works of high fantasy. He was born in South Africa, but grew up in England.
As a youth, he and several cousins invented several “new” languages and alphabets.
At the age of 16, he fell in love with childhood sweetheart Edith Mary Bratt, three years his senior. He proposed to Mary, but was forbidden from marrying or communicating with Mary until his 21st birthday by his guardian, Father Morgan. On the evening of his 21st birthday, he wrote Mary a letter, again proposing. She revealed she had become engaged to someone else, but his letter persuaded her to soon break off her engagement and accept his proposal. They married in 1916 and remained married 55 years. Their union produced four children, one of whom, Mary Ann Reuel who was born in 1929, is still living.
J. R. R. Tolkien is responsible for convincing his wife Edith to convert from Protestantism to Roman Catholicism, a move which enraged her guardian and resulted in her being asked to leave the home of guardian and family friend C. H. Jessop where she was living at the time.
Tolkien’s Catholicism is credited with converting the famous writer C. S. Lewis from atheism to Christianity. Tolkien was upset, however, that Lewis chose to join the Church of England and become a Protestant instead of a Roman Catholic. Without Tolkien, it is quite possible we would have been denied the great Christian lay theologian writer Lewis’ Screwtape Letters and other great classics.
J. R. R. Tolkien died September 2, 1973 at 81 years, two years after his beloved wife, Edith.
But today is the birthday of Bilbo and Frodo, according to Tolkien. My older son, Scott, says that he always takes this day to begin re-reading the Tolkien classic, The Lord of the Rings. And that seems like that’s a good way to celebrate this birthday.
Happy birthday, Bilbo and Frodo.