Ronald Schweder : First World War

Ronald Schweder : First World War

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Ronald Schweder was educated at Eton. On the outbreak of the First World War he volunteered for the British Army and became a member of the Royal Field Artillery. By the summer of 1916 he had reached the rank of major. He took part in the offensive at the Somme and remained on the Western Front until the Armistice.

The papers today gave me the jim-jams. "Haig on his next offensive". My metier ain't blood and iron, and I have had one of his offensives. Of course, there is no good grousing.

There are in this mess quite the rudest pictures I have ever seen. Ladies by the dozen with nothing on. Under one of them is the Bairnsfather saying cut from one of his pictures, "If you know of a better hole, go to it." Rather an apt saying, but not quite possible out here.

I saw a fellow get a lovely wound in the head with a bit of shrapnel. He was so pleased, he made me laugh.

Who was the person who told your father, "Peace in two months"? How I wish it could be true. The casualty lists are awful. The results of the war and all the sacrifice will be sweet nothing, I expect.

Latham, one of my Subalterns, came back today after a fortnight's rest cure by the seaside. He was full of WAACs, VADs, etc. It seems to me to be on a friendly footing, the male and female army in the back areas. One might almost call it "matey".

Early life

Fischer-Schweder was born as the son of the building contractor Friedrich Carl Fischer (born April 15, 1871 in Praussnitzin, † August 2, 1915 in Nongrodno) and his wife Marie Amalie Elise Fischer, née. Schweder (born January 18, 1874 in Trebitz). He only acquired the double name Fischer-Schweder as an adult.

Fischer, who only had a simple school education, made contact with circles on the extreme political right very early on. Already in 1921 he joined as a teenager a volunteer corps to before in the "1923 Black Reichswehr worked". Allegedly he joined the NSDAP for the first time on May 11, 1923 and was a member of it until it was dissolved in the wake of the Hitler coup of November 1923.

On August 28, 1925, there is evidence that Fischer-Schweder joined the newly founded NSDAP ( membership number 17.141). He also became a member of the Sturmabteilung (SA), the party's street fighting association, at that time . In this he reached the rank of Standartenführer until 1933 and finally, in 1938, the rank of SA Oberführer.

Career in the Nazi state until the Second World War

Shortly after the National Socialists came to power in the spring of 1933, Fischer-Schweder was accepted into the police service. From March 1933 he worked as a detective officer in Berlin-Charlottenburg . On June 26, 1933, Fischer-Schweder and his mentor at the time, Karl Belding, murdered the former SA man Helmuth Unger , who was considered a traitor in the SA after it became known that he was a staff leader in the SA standard led by Belding in 1931 - Before 1933 worked as a spy for the political police of the Weimar Republic in the SA and passed on confidential information about their activities to the police against payment. Fischer-Schweder and Belding arrested Unger that day and brought him for interrogation by the Gestapo commissioner Rudolf Braschwitz . After the interrogation was over, they took Unger into their "custody" again and killed him in an unknown location.

In May 1934, Fischer-Schweder was transferred to Breslau as a detective commissioner. Meanwhile, the Berlin SS accused him of participating with Belding in the alleged Schorfheide assassination attempt on Heinrich Himmler on June 19, 1934 - which probably never took place. Nevertheless, on the orders of Himmler, who was firmly convinced that Belding and Fischer-Schweder were responsible for an assassination attempt on him, he and Belding were arrested by the SS on June 30, 1934 in the course of the Röhm affair in Breslau: Both men were taken into custody by the SS when they appeared on June 30, 1934 for their duty as detectives at the Breslau police headquarters, and were sent as prisoners to the police headquarters' house prison. While Belding was taken from his cell by SS members, together with six other SA members from Breslau, on the night of July 1st, taken to a wooded area outside of Breslau, and there fusiled by a firing squad, Fischer-Schweder escaped this fate by luck, since an SS man interceded for him. He was released a few weeks later.

After his release, Schweder returned to the police force. In 1938 he had reached the rank of criminal councilor. In this function he took part in the German invasion of the Sudeten areas in autumn 1938. In the wake of the annexation of this hitherto Czech territory, he contributed to the development of the German police structures there. He was awarded the medal in memory of October 1, 1938 for his "excellent work in the organization of the operation in the Sudetenland".

Until the outbreak of the Second World War he remained active in the Silesian area (Breslau and Liegnitz) before he was appointed acting police director of Memel in October 1940. In January 1941 he was confirmed in this position and installed as permanent police director of Memel. In this position he was accepted into the SS on August 15, 1941 with Heinrich Himmler's approval , receiving the rank of SS Oberführer in accordance with the principle of equalization based on his police rank.

Second World War

In Memel, in the summer of 1941, Fischer-Schweder was involved in the establishment of the Tilsit task force formed on the occasion of the German attack on the Soviet Union . In the first months of the Russian campaign in the area of responsibility of Einsatzgruppe A, this command carried out mass executions in the area of ​​Lithuania, which according to the report of the leader of Einsatzgruppe A Walter Stahlecker, 5,502 people were killed.

On Sunday, June 22nd, 1941, the 61st Infantry Division under Lieutenant General Siegfried Haenicke had the task of advancing in a north-easterly direction to Telšiai . For this purpose, the town of Garsden in the Lithuanian border area was to be taken. Of the approximately 3,000 inhabitants of this place, 600 to 700 were Jews. During the attack, the German shock group lost 100 infantrymen.

The Gestapo chief von Tilsit, government councilor and SS-Sturmbannführer Hans-Joachim Böhme , requested reinforcements from Fischer-Schweder on June 23. This is said to have exclaimed in astonishment: "Thunder, those are consequences that the Russian campaign brings with it, which one had not thought of at first." In a speech to his police detachment, he defended the shootings with the demonstrably false reason Prisoners had resisted the German troops. Fischer-Schweder was significantly involved in the Garsden execution of 201 people on June 24th: On his own initiative, he did not make his bullying detachment available as a mere locking detachment, as originally requested, but as an execution detachment, he proposed the official "execution formula" ("You are shot for offenses against the Wehrmacht on the orders of the Führer ”) and gave additional shots at the victims of his own accord. His bullying squad also took part in the executions in Krottingen I ( Kretinga ) under his command, with his active participation this time also including the prior checking of Lithuanian alleged communists and the shooting of attacking or fleeing victims.

From October 1942 he was employed as an SS and police leader in Kharkov . He was disciplined in 1943 for a casino shoot-out and transferred to the Waffen-SS in the Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler . Most recently he was company commander in the 12th SS Panzer Division "Hitler Youth" from January 1945 .

Post war period

After the end of the Second World War, Fischer-Schweder went into hiding under the name of Bernd Fischer. Under his new identity, he initially worked for a few years as a sales representative for a Stuttgart vacuum cleaner company before trying to gain a foothold in the public sector.

In 1955, Fischer-Schweder became head of the Wilhelmsburg refugee camp near Ulm . However, his past became known and he was discharged from service. When he tried again to recruit from the South Baden Regional Council, he was rejected. He then sued the labor court for reinstatement. The case became public, a newspaper headlined with the headline "SS-Obersturmführer (sic!) Complains for reinstatement". A man who knew Fischer-Schweder from Memel saw this message. He wrote to the newspaper and also reported on the shootings. The result was that the letter was passed on to the Ulm public prosecutor, who arranged for him to be arrested and the proceedings to be initiated.

In the 1958 Ulm Einsatzgruppen Trial , Fischer-Schweder was sentenced to 10 years in prison on August 29, 1958 for aiding and abetting community murder in 526 cases. Before the court it was established that the defendant Fischer-Schweder had acted voluntarily and not on orders from an “innate need for recognition” as a civil servant, in the opinion of the court, on the other hand, pursuant to Section 7 (2) of the German Civil Service Act 1937, he was obliged not to obey the execution order, as this constituted an order the execution of which was clearly contrary to the criminal laws.

Fischer-Schweder died of a pulmonary embolism in 1960 in the penal institution on Hohenasperg near Ludwigsburg .

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There are 3,000 census records available for the last name Von Schweder. Like a window into their day-to-day life, Von Schweder census records can tell you where and how your ancestors worked, their level of education, veteran status, and more.

There are 642 immigration records available for the last name Von Schweder. Passenger lists are your ticket to knowing when your ancestors arrived in the UK, and how they made the journey - from the ship name to ports of arrival and departure.

There are 1,000 military records available for the last name Von Schweder. For the veterans among your Von Schweder ancestors, military collections provide insights into where and when they served, and even physical descriptions.



Tolkien's immediate paternal ancestors were middle-class craftsmen who made and sold clocks, watches and pianos in London and Birmingham. The Tolkien family originated in the East Prussian town Kreuzburg near Königsberg, which was founded during medieval German eastward expansion, where his earliest-known paternal ancestor Michel Tolkien was born around 1620. Michel's son Christianus Tolkien (1663–1746) was a wealthy miller in Kreuzburg. His son Christian Tolkien (1706–1791) moved from Kreuzburg to nearby Danzig, and his two sons Daniel Gottlieb Tolkien (1747–1813) and Johann (later known as John) Benjamin Tolkien (1752–1819) emigrated to London in the 1770s and became the ancestors of the English family the younger brother was J. R. R. Tolkien's second great-grandfather. In 1792 John Benjamin Tolkien and William Gravell took over the Erdley Norton manufacture in London, which from then on sold clocks and watches under the name Gravell & Tolkien. Daniel Gottlieb obtained British citizenship in 1794, but John Benjamin apparently never became a British citizen. Other German relatives also joined the two brothers in London. Several people with the surname Tolkien or similar spelling, some of them members of the same family as J. R. R. Tolkien, live in northern Germany, but most of them are descendants of people who evacuated East Prussia in 1945, at the end of World War II. [3] [4] [5] [6]

According to Ryszard Derdziński, the Tolkien name is of Low Prussian origin and probably means "son/descendant of Tolk." [3] [4] Tolkien mistakenly believed his surname derived from the German word tollkühn, meaning "foolhardy", [7] and jokingly inserted himself as a "cameo" into The Notion Club Papers under the literally translated name Rashbold. [8] However, Derdziński has demonstrated this to be a false etymology. [3] [4] While J. R. R. Tolkien was aware of the Tolkien family's German origin, his knowledge of the family's history was limited because he was "early isolated from the family of his prematurely deceased father". [3] [4]


John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on 3 January 1892 in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State (later annexed by the British Empire now Free State Province in the Republic of South Africa), to Arthur Reuel Tolkien (1857–1896), an English bank manager, and his wife Mabel, née Suffield (1870–1904). The couple had left England when Arthur was promoted to head the Bloemfontein office of the British bank for which he worked. Tolkien had one sibling, his younger brother, Hilary Arthur Reuel Tolkien, who was born on 17 February 1894. [9]

As a child, Tolkien was bitten by a large baboon spider in the garden, an event some think later echoed in his stories, although he admitted no actual memory of the event and no special hatred of spiders as an adult. In another incident, a young family servant, who thought Tolkien a beautiful child, took the baby to his kraal to show him off, returning him the next morning. [10]

When he was three, he went to England with his mother and brother on what was intended to be a lengthy family visit. His father, however, died in South Africa of rheumatic fever before he could join them. [11] This left the family without an income, so Tolkien's mother took him to live with her parents in Kings Heath, [12] Birmingham. Soon after, in 1896, they moved to Sarehole (now in Hall Green), then a Worcestershire village, later annexed to Birmingham. [13] He enjoyed exploring Sarehole Mill and Moseley Bog and the Clent, Lickey and Malvern Hills, which would later inspire scenes in his books, along with nearby towns and villages such as Bromsgrove, Alcester, and Alvechurch and places such as his aunt Jane's farm Bag End, the name of which he used in his fiction. [14]

Mabel Tolkien taught her two children at home. Ronald, as he was known in the family, was a keen pupil. [15] She taught him a great deal of botany and awakened in him the enjoyment of the look and feel of plants. Young Tolkien liked to draw landscapes and trees, but his favourite lessons were those concerning languages, and his mother taught him the rudiments of Latin very early. [16]

Tolkien could read by the age of four and could write fluently soon afterwards. His mother allowed him to read many books. He disliked Treasure Island and The Pied Piper and thought Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll was "amusing but disturbing". He liked stories about "Red Indians" (Native Americans) and the fantasy works by George MacDonald. [17] In addition, the "Fairy Books" of Andrew Lang were particularly important to him and their influence is apparent in some of his later writings. [18]

Mabel Tolkien was received into the Roman Catholic Church in 1900 despite vehement protests by her Baptist family, [20] which stopped all financial assistance to her. In 1904, when J. R. R. Tolkien was 12, his mother died of acute diabetes at Fern Cottage in Rednal, which she was renting. She was then about 34 years of age, about as old as a person with diabetes mellitus type 1 could survive without treatment—insulin would not be discovered until two decades later. Nine years after her death, Tolkien wrote, "My own dear mother was a martyr indeed, and it is not to everybody that God grants so easy a way to his great gifts as he did to Hilary and myself, giving us a mother who killed herself with labour and trouble to ensure us keeping the faith." [20]

Before her death, Mabel Tolkien had assigned the guardianship of her sons to her close friend, Father Francis Xavier Morgan of the Birmingham Oratory, who was assigned to bring them up as good Catholics. [21] In a 1965 letter to his son Michael, Tolkien recalled the influence of the man whom he always called "Father Francis": "He was an upper-class Welsh-Spaniard Tory, and seemed to some just a pottering old gossip. He was—and he was not. I first learned charity and forgiveness from him and in the light of it pierced even the 'liberal' darkness out of which I came, knowing more [i.e. Tolkien having grown up knowing more] about 'Bloody Mary' than the Mother of Jesus—who was never mentioned except as an object of wicked worship by the Romanists." [T 1] After his mother's death, Tolkien grew up in the Edgbaston area of Birmingham and attended King Edward's School, Birmingham, and later St Philip's School. In 1903, he won a Foundation Scholarship and returned to King Edward's. [22]


While in his early teens, Tolkien had his first encounter with a constructed language, Animalic, an invention of his cousins, Mary and Marjorie Incledon. At that time, he was studying Latin and Anglo-Saxon. Their interest in Animalic soon died away, but Mary and others, including Tolkien himself, invented a new and more complex language called Nevbosh. The next constructed language he came to work with, Naffarin, would be his own creation. [23] [24] Tolkien learned Esperanto some time before 1909. Around 10 June 1909 he composed "The Book of the Foxrook", a sixteen-page notebook, where the "earliest example of one of his invented alphabets" appears. [25] Short texts in this notebook are written in Esperanto. [26]

In 1911, while they were at King Edward's School, Tolkien and three friends, Rob Gilson, Geoffrey Bache Smith and Christopher Wiseman, formed a semi-secret society they called the T.C.B.S. The initials stood for Tea Club and Barrovian Society, alluding to their fondness for drinking tea in Barrow's Stores near the school and, secretly, in the school library. [27] [28] After leaving school, the members stayed in touch and, in December 1914, they held a "council" in London at Wiseman's home. For Tolkien, the result of this meeting was a strong dedication to writing poetry.

In 1911, Tolkien went on a summer holiday in Switzerland, a trip that he recollects vividly in a 1968 letter, [T 2] noting that Bilbo's journey across the Misty Mountains ("including the glissade down the slithering stones into the pine woods") is directly based on his adventures as their party of 12 hiked from Interlaken to Lauterbrunnen and on to camp in the moraines beyond Mürren. Fifty-seven years later, Tolkien remembered his regret at leaving the view of the eternal snows of Jungfrau and Silberhorn, "the Silvertine (Celebdil) of my dreams". They went across the Kleine Scheidegg to Grindelwald and on across the Grosse Scheidegg to Meiringen. They continued across the Grimsel Pass, through the upper Valais to Brig and on to the Aletsch glacier and Zermatt. [29]

In October of the same year, Tolkien began studying at Exeter College, Oxford. He initially studied classics but changed his course in 1913 to English language and literature, graduating in 1915 with first-class honours. [30] Among his tutors at Oxford was Joseph Wright, whose Primer of the Gothic Language had inspired Tolkien as a schoolboy. [31]

Courtship and marriage

At the age of 16, Tolkien met Edith Mary Bratt, who was three years his senior, when he and his brother Hilary moved into the boarding house where she lived in Duchess Road, Edgbaston. According to Humphrey Carpenter, "Edith and Ronald took to frequenting Birmingham teashops, especially one which had a balcony overlooking the pavement. There they would sit and throw sugarlumps into the hats of passers-by, moving to the next table when the sugar bowl was empty. . With two people of their personalities and in their position, romance was bound to flourish. Both were orphans in need of affection, and they found that they could give it to each other. During the summer of 1909, they decided that they were in love." [32]

His guardian, Father Morgan, considered it "altogether unfortunate" [T 3] that his surrogate son was romantically involved with an older, Protestant woman Tolkien wrote that the combined tensions contributed to his having "muffed [his] exams". [T 3] Morgan prohibited him from meeting, talking to, or even corresponding with Edith until he was 21. Tolkien obeyed this prohibition to the letter, [33] with one notable early exception, over which Father Morgan threatened to cut short his university career if he did not stop. [34]

On the evening of his 21st birthday, Tolkien wrote to Edith, who was living with family friend C. H. Jessop at Cheltenham. He declared that he had never ceased to love her, and asked her to marry him. Edith replied that she had already accepted the proposal of George Field, the brother of one of her closest school friends. But Edith said she had agreed to marry Field only because she felt "on the shelf" and had begun to doubt that Tolkien still cared for her. She explained that, because of Tolkien's letter, everything had changed. [35]

On 8 January 1913, Tolkien travelled by train to Cheltenham and was met on the platform by Edith. The two took a walk into the countryside, sat under a railway viaduct, and talked. By the end of the day, Edith had agreed to accept Tolkien's proposal. She wrote to Field and returned her engagement ring. Field was "dreadfully upset at first", and the Field family was "insulted and angry". [35] Upon learning of Edith's new plans, Jessop wrote to her guardian, "I have nothing to say against Tolkien, he is a cultured gentleman, but his prospects are poor in the extreme, and when he will be in a position to marry I cannot imagine. Had he adopted a profession it would have been different." [36]

Following their engagement, Edith reluctantly announced that she was converting to Catholicism at Tolkien's insistence. Jessop, "like many others of his age and class . strongly anti-Catholic", was infuriated, and he ordered Edith to find other lodgings. [37]

Edith Bratt and Ronald Tolkien were formally engaged at Birmingham in January 1913, and married at St Mary Immaculate Roman Catholic Church, Warwick, on 22 March 1916. [38] In his 1941 letter to Michael, Tolkien expressed admiration for his wife's willingness to marry a man with no job, little money, and no prospects except the likelihood of being killed in the Great War. [T 3]

First World War

In August 1914, Britain entered the First World War. Tolkien's relatives were shocked when he elected not to volunteer immediately for the British Army. In a 1941 letter to his son Michael, Tolkien recalled: "In those days chaps joined up, or were scorned publicly. It was a nasty cleft to be in for a young man with too much imagination and little physical courage." [T 3] Instead, Tolkien, "endured the obloquy", [T 3] and entered a programme by which he delayed enlistment until completing his degree. By the time he passed his finals in July 1915, Tolkien recalled that the hints were "becoming outspoken from relatives". [T 3] He was commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers on 15 July 1915. [39] [40] He trained with the 13th (Reserve) Battalion on Cannock Chase, Rugeley Camp near to Rugeley, Staffordshire, for 11 months. In a letter to Edith, Tolkien complained: "Gentlemen are rare among the superiors, and even human beings rare indeed." [41] Following their wedding, Lieutenant and Mrs. Tolkien took up lodgings near the training camp. [39] On 2 June 1916, Tolkien received a telegram summoning him to Folkestone for posting to France. The Tolkiens spent the night before his departure in a room at the Plough & Harrow Hotel in Edgbaston, Birmingham. [42] He later wrote: "Junior officers were being killed off, a dozen a minute. Parting from my wife then. it was like a death." [43]


On 5 June 1916, Tolkien boarded a troop transport for an overnight voyage to Calais. Like other soldiers arriving for the first time, he was sent to the British Expeditionary Force's (BEF) base depot at Étaples. On 7 June, he was informed that he had been assigned as a signals officer to the 11th (Service) Battalion, Lancashire Fusiliers. The battalion was part of the 74th Brigade, 25th Division. While waiting to be summoned to his unit, Tolkien sank into boredom. To pass the time, he composed a poem entitled The Lonely Isle, which was inspired by his feelings during the sea crossing to Calais. To evade the British Army's postal censorship, he developed a code of dots by which Edith could track his movements. [44] He left Étaples on 27 June 1916 and joined his battalion at Rubempré, near Amiens. [45] He found himself commanding enlisted men who were drawn mainly from the mining, milling, and weaving towns of Lancashire. [46] According to John Garth, he "felt an affinity for these working class men", but military protocol prohibited friendships with "other ranks". Instead, he was required to "take charge of them, discipline them, train them, and probably censor their letters . If possible, he was supposed to inspire their love and loyalty." [47] Tolkien later lamented, "The most improper job of any man . is bossing other men. Not one in a million is fit for it, and least of all those who seek the opportunity." [47]

Battle of the Somme

Tolkien arrived at the Somme in early July 1916. In between terms behind the lines at Bouzincourt, he participated in the assaults on the Schwaben Redoubt and the Leipzig salient. Tolkien's time in combat was a terrible stress for Edith, who feared that every knock on the door might carry news of her husband's death. Edith could track her husband's movements on a map of the Western Front. The Reverend Mervyn S. Evers, Anglican chaplain to the Lancashire Fusiliers, recorded that Tolkien and his brother officers were eaten by "hordes of lice" which found the Medical Officer's ointment merely "a kind of hors d'oeuvre and the little beggars went at their feast with renewed vigour." [48] On 27 October 1916, as his battalion attacked Regina Trench, Tolkien contracted trench fever, a disease carried by lice. He was invalided to England on 8 November 1916. [49] Many of his dearest school friends were killed in the war. Among their number were Rob Gilson of the Tea Club and Barrovian Society, who was killed on the first day of the Somme while leading his men in the assault on Beaumont Hamel. Fellow T.C.B.S. member Geoffrey Smith was killed during the battle, when a German artillery shell landed on a first-aid post. Tolkien's battalion was almost completely wiped out following his return to England. [50]

According to John Garth, Kitchener's army at once marked existing social boundaries and counteracted the class system by throwing everyone into a desperate situation together. Tolkien was grateful, writing that it had taught him "a deep sympathy and feeling for the Tommy especially the plain soldier from the agricultural counties". [51]

Home front

A weak and emaciated Tolkien spent the remainder of the war alternating between hospitals and garrison duties, being deemed medically unfit for general service. [52] [53] [54] During his recovery in a cottage in Little Haywood, Staffordshire, he began to work on what he called The Book of Lost Tales, beginning with The Fall of Gondolin. Lost Tales represented Tolkien's attempt to create a mythology for England, a project he would abandon without ever completing. [55] Throughout 1917 and 1918 his illness kept recurring, but he had recovered enough to do home service at various camps. It was at this time that Edith bore their first child, John Francis Reuel Tolkien. In a 1941 letter, Tolkien described his son John as "(conceived and carried during the starvation-year of 1917 and the great U-Boat campaign) round about the Battle of Cambrai, when the end of the war seemed as far off as it does now". [T 3] Tolkien was promoted to the temporary rank of lieutenant on 6 January 1918. [56] When he was stationed at Kingston upon Hull, he and Edith went walking in the woods at nearby Roos, and Edith began to dance for him in a clearing among the flowering hemlock. After his wife's death in 1971, Tolkien remembered, [T 4]

I never called Edith Luthien—but she was the source of the story that in time became the chief part of the Silmarillion. It was first conceived in a small woodland glade filled with hemlocks [57] at Roos in Yorkshire (where I was for a brief time in command of an outpost of the Humber Garrison in 1917, and she was able to live with me for a while). In those days her hair was raven, her skin clear, her eyes brighter than you have seen them, and she could sing—and dance. But the story has gone crooked, & I am left, and I cannot plead before the inexorable Mandos. [T 4]

On 16 July 1919 Tolkien was taken off active service, at Fovant, on Salisbury Plain, with a temporary disability pension. [58]

Academic and writing career

On 3 November 1920, Tolkien was demobilized and left the army, retaining his rank of lieutenant. [59] His first civilian job after World War I was at the Oxford English Dictionary, where he worked mainly on the history and etymology of words of Germanic origin beginning with the letter W. [60] In 1920, he took up a post as reader in English language at the University of Leeds, becoming the youngest professor there. [61] While at Leeds, he produced A Middle English Vocabulary and a definitive edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight with E. V. Gordon both became academic standard works for several decades. He translated Sir Gawain, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo. In 1925, he returned to Oxford as Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon, with a fellowship at Pembroke College.

In mid-1919, he began to tutor undergraduates privately, most importantly those of Lady Margaret Hall and St Hugh's College, given that the women's colleges were in great need of good teachers in their early years, and Tolkien as a married professor (then still not common) was considered suitable, as a bachelor don would not have been. [62]

During his time at Pembroke College Tolkien wrote The Hobbit and the first two volumes of The Lord of the Rings, while living at 20 Northmoor Road in North Oxford. He also published a philological essay in 1932 on the name "Nodens", following Sir Mortimer Wheeler's unearthing of a Roman Asclepeion at Lydney Park, Gloucestershire, in 1928. [63]


In the 1920s, Tolkien undertook a translation of Beowulf, which he finished in 1926, but did not publish. It was finally edited by his son and published in 2014, more than 40 years after Tolkien's death and almost 90 years after its completion. [64]

Ten years after finishing his translation, Tolkien gave a highly acclaimed lecture on the work, "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics", which had a lasting influence on Beowulf research. [65] Lewis E. Nicholson said that the article is "widely recognized as a turning point in Beowulfian criticism", noting that Tolkien established the primacy of the poetic nature of the work as opposed to its purely linguistic elements. [66] At the time, the consensus of scholarship deprecated Beowulf for dealing with childish battles with monsters rather than realistic tribal warfare Tolkien argued that the author of Beowulf was addressing human destiny in general, not as limited by particular tribal politics, and therefore the monsters were essential to the poem. [67] Where Beowulf does deal with specific tribal struggles, as at Finnsburg, Tolkien argued firmly against reading in fantastic elements. [68] In the essay, Tolkien also revealed how highly he regarded Beowulf: "Beowulf is among my most valued sources" this influence may be seen throughout his Middle-earth legendarium. [69]

According to Humphrey Carpenter, Tolkien began his series of lectures on Beowulf in a most striking way, entering the room silently, fixing the audience with a look, and suddenly declaiming in Old English the opening lines of the poem, starting "with a great cry of Hwæt!" It was a dramatic impersonation of an Anglo-Saxon bard in a mead hall, and it made the students realize that Beowulf was not just a set text but "a powerful piece of dramatic poetry". [70] Decades later, W. H. Auden wrote to his former professor, thanking him for the "unforgettable experience" of hearing him recite Beowulf, and stating "The voice was the voice of Gandalf". [70]

Second World War

In the run-up to the Second World War, Tolkien was earmarked as a codebreaker. In January 1939, he was asked to serve in the cryptographic department of the Foreign Office in the event of national emergency. Beginning on 27 March, he took an instructional course at the London HQ of the Government Code and Cypher School. He was informed in October that his services would not be required. [T 5] [71]

In 1945, Tolkien moved to Merton College, Oxford, becoming the Merton Professor of English Language and Literature, [72] in which post he remained until his retirement in 1959. He served as an external examiner for University College, Dublin, for many years. [73] In 1954 Tolkien received an honorary degree from the National University of Ireland (of which U.C.D. was a constituent college). [74] Tolkien completed The Lord of the Rings in 1948, close to a decade after the first sketches. [75]


The Tolkiens had four children: John Francis Reuel Tolkien (17 November 1917 – 22 January 2003), Michael Hilary Reuel Tolkien (22 October 1920 – 27 February 1984), Christopher John Reuel Tolkien (21 November 1924 – 16 January 2020) and Priscilla Mary Anne Reuel Tolkien (born 18 June 1929). [76] Tolkien was very devoted to his children and sent them illustrated letters from Father Christmas when they were young. [77]


During his life in retirement, from 1959 up to his death in 1973, Tolkien received steadily increasing public attention and literary fame. In 1961, his friend C. S. Lewis even nominated him for the Nobel Prize in Literature. [78] The sales of his books were so profitable that he regretted that he had not chosen early retirement. [16] In a 1972 letter, he deplored having become a cult-figure, but admitted that "even the nose of a very modest idol . cannot remain entirely untickled by the sweet smell of incense!" [T 6]

Fan attention became so intense that Tolkien had to take his phone number out of the public directory, [T 7] and eventually he and Edith moved to Bournemouth, which was then a seaside resort patronized by the British upper middle class. Tolkien's status as a best-selling author gave them easy entry into polite society, but Tolkien deeply missed the company of his fellow Inklings. Edith, however, was overjoyed to step into the role of a society hostess, which had been the reason that Tolkien selected Bournemouth in the first place. The genuine and deep affection between Ronald and Edith was demonstrated by their care about the other's health, in details like wrapping presents, in the generous way he gave up his life at Oxford so she could retire to Bournemouth, and in her pride in his becoming a famous author. They were tied together, too, by love for their children and grandchildren. [79]

In his retirement Tolkien was a consultant and translator for The Jerusalem Bible, published in 1966. He was initially assigned a larger portion to translate, but, due to other commitments, only managed to offer some criticisms of other contributors and a translation of the Book of Jonah. [T 8]

Final years

Edith died on 29 November 1971, at the age of 82. Ronald returned to Oxford, where Merton College gave him convenient rooms near the High Street. He missed Edith, but enjoyed being back in the city. [80]

Tolkien was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1972 New Year Honours [81] and received the insignia of the Order at Buckingham Palace on 28 March 1972. [T 9] In the same year Oxford University gave him an honorary Doctorate of Letters. [30] [82]

He had the name Luthien [sic] engraved on Edith's tombstone at Wolvercote Cemetery, Oxford. When Tolkien died 21 months later on 2 September 1973 from a bleeding ulcer and chest infection, [83] at the age of 81, [84] he was buried in the same grave, with "Beren" added to his name. Tolkien's will was proven on 20 December 1973, with his estate valued at £190,577 (equivalent to £2,322,000 in 2019). [85] [86]


Tolkien's Roman Catholicism was a significant factor in C. S. Lewis's conversion from atheism to Christianity, although Tolkien was dismayed that Lewis chose to join the Church of England. [87] He once wrote to Rayner Unwin's daughter Camilla, who wished to know the purpose of life, that it was "to increase according to our capacity our knowledge of God by all the means we have, and to be moved by it to praise and thanks." [88] He had a special devotion to the blessed sacrament, writing to his son Michael that in "the Blessed Sacrament . you will find romance, glory, honour, fidelity, and the true way of all your loves upon earth, and more than that". [T 3] He accordingly encouraged frequent reception of Holy Communion, again writing to his son Michael that "the only cure for sagging of fainting faith is Communion." He believed the Catholic Church to be true most of all because of the pride of place and the honour in which it holds the Blessed Sacrament. [T 10] In the last years of his life, Tolkien resisted some of the liturgical changes implemented after the Second Vatican Council, especially the use of English for the liturgy he continued to make the responses in Latin, ignoring the rest of the congregation. [80]

Politics and race

Tolkien's fantasy writings have often been accused of embodying outmoded attitudes to race. [89] [90] However, scholars have noted that he was influenced by Victorian attitudes to race and to a literary tradition of monsters, and that he was anti-racist both in peacetime and during the two World Wars. With the late 19th century background of eugenics and a fear of moral decline, some critics saw the mention of race mixing in The Lord of the Rings as embodying scientific racism. [91] [92] Other commentators saw in Tolkien's orcs a reflection of wartime propaganda caricatures of the Japanese. [93] Critics have noted, too, that the work embodies a moral geography, with good in the West, evil in the East. [94] Against this, scholars have noted that Tolkien was opposed to peacetime Nazi racial theory, while in the Second World War he was equally opposed to anti-German propaganda. [95] [96] Other scholars have stated that Tolkien's Middle-earth is definitely polycultural and polylingual, and that attacks on Tolkien based on The Lord of the Rings often omit relevant evidence from the text. [97] [98]


During most of his own life conservationism was not yet on the political agenda, and Tolkien himself did not directly express conservationist views—except in some private letters, in which he tells about his fondness for forests and sadness at tree-felling. In later years, a number of authors of biographies or literary analyses of Tolkien conclude that during his writing of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien gained increased interest in the value of wild and untamed nature, and in protecting what wild nature was left in the industrialized world. [99] [100] [101]


Tolkien's fantasy books on Middle-earth, especially The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, drew on a wide array of influences including his philological interest in language, [102] Christianity, [103] [104] mythology, archaeology, [105] ancient and modern literature, and personal experience. His philological work centred on the study of Old English literature, especially Beowulf, and he acknowledged its importance to his writings. [106] He was a gifted linguist, influenced by Germanic, [107] Celtic, [108] Finnish, [109] and Greek [110] [111] language and mythology. Commentators have attempted to identify many literary and topological antecedents for characters, places and events in Tolkien's writings. Some writers were important to him, including the Arts and Crafts polymath William Morris, [112] and he undoubtedly made use of some real place-names, such as Bag End, the name of his aunt's home. [113] He acknowledged, too, John Buchan and H. Rider Haggard, authors of modern adventure stories that he enjoyed. [114] [115] [116] The effects of some specific experiences have been identified. Tolkien's childhood in the English countryside, and its urbanisation by the growth of Birmingham, influenced his creation of the Shire, [117] while his personal experience of fighting in the trenches of the First World War affected his depiction of Mordor. [118]


"Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics"

In addition to writing fiction, Tolkien was an author of academic literary criticism. His seminal 1936 lecture, later published as an article, revolutionized the treatment of the Anglo-Saxon epic Beowulf by literary critics. The essay remains highly influential in the study of Old English literature to this day. [119] Beowulf is one of the most significant influences upon Tolkien's later fiction, with major details of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings being adapted from the poem. [120]

"On Fairy-Stories"

This essay discusses the fairy-story as a literary form. It was initially written as the 1939 Andrew Lang Lecture at the University of St Andrews, Scotland. Tolkien focuses on Andrew Lang's work as a folklorist and collector of fairy tales. He disagreed with Lang's broad inclusion, in his Fairy Book collections, of traveller's tales, beast fables, and other types of stories. Tolkien held a narrower perspective, viewing fairy stories as those that took place in Faerie, an enchanted realm, with or without fairies as characters. He viewed them as the natural development of the interaction of human imagination and human language. [121]

Children's books and other short works

In addition to his mythopoeic compositions, Tolkien enjoyed inventing fantasy stories to entertain his children. [122] He wrote annual Christmas letters from Father Christmas for them, building up a series of short stories (later compiled and published as The Father Christmas Letters). [123] Other works included Mr. Bliss and Roverandom (for children), and Leaf by Niggle (part of Tree and Leaf), The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, Smith of Wootton Major and Farmer Giles of Ham. Roverandom and Smith of Wootton Major, like The Hobbit, borrowed ideas from his legendarium. [124]

The Hobbit

Tolkien never expected his stories to become popular, but by sheer accident a book called The Hobbit, which he had written some years before for his own children, came in 1936 to the attention of Susan Dagnall, an employee of the London publishing firm George Allen & Unwin, who persuaded Tolkien to submit it for publication. [84] When it was published a year later, the book attracted adult readers as well as children, and it became popular enough for the publishers to ask Tolkien to produce a sequel. [125]

The Lord of the Rings

The request for a sequel prompted Tolkien to begin what became his most famous work: the epic novel The Lord of the Rings (originally published in three volumes in 1954–1955). Tolkien spent more than ten years writing the primary narrative and appendices for The Lord of the Rings, during which time he received the constant support of the Inklings, in particular his closest friend C. S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia. Both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are set against the background of The Silmarillion, but in a time long after it. [126]

Tolkien at first intended The Lord of the Rings to be a children's tale in the style of The Hobbit, but it quickly grew darker and more serious in the writing. [127] Though a direct sequel to The Hobbit, it addressed an older audience, drawing on the immense backstory of Beleriand that Tolkien had constructed in previous years, and which eventually saw posthumous publication in The Silmarillion and other volumes. [126] Tolkien strongly influenced the fantasy genre that grew up after the book's success. [128]

The Lord of the Rings became immensely popular in the 1960s and has remained so ever since, ranking as one of the most popular works of fiction of the 20th century, judged by both sales and reader surveys. [129] In the 2003 "Big Read" survey conducted by the BBC, The Lord of the Rings was found to be the UK's "Best-loved Novel". [130] Australians voted The Lord of the Rings "My Favourite Book" in a 2004 survey conducted by the Australian ABC. [131] In a 1999 poll of customers, The Lord of the Rings was judged to be their favourite "book of the millennium". [132] In 2002 Tolkien was voted the 92nd "greatest Briton" in a poll conducted by the BBC, and in 2004 he was voted 35th in the SABC3's Great South Africans, the only person to appear in both lists. His popularity is not limited to the English-speaking world: in a 2004 poll inspired by the UK's "Big Read" survey, about 250,000 Germans found The Lord of the Rings to be their favourite work of literature. [133]

The Silmarillion

Tolkien wrote a brief "Sketch of the Mythology", which included the tales of Beren and Lúthien and of Túrin and that sketch eventually evolved into the Quenta Silmarillion, an epic history that Tolkien started three times but never published. Tolkien desperately hoped to publish it along with The Lord of the Rings, but publishers (both Allen & Unwin and Collins) declined. Moreover, printing costs were very high in 1950s Britain, requiring The Lord of the Rings to be published in three volumes. [134] The story of this continuous redrafting is told in the posthumous series The History of Middle-earth, edited by Tolkien's son, Christopher Tolkien. From around 1936, Tolkien began to extend this framework to include the tale of The Fall of Númenor, which was inspired by the legend of Atlantis. [135]

Tolkien appointed his son Christopher to be his literary executor, and he (with assistance from Guy Gavriel Kay, later a well-known fantasy author in his own right) organized some of this material into a single coherent volume, published as The Silmarillion in 1977. It received the Locus Award for Best Fantasy novel in 1978. [136]

Unfinished Tales and The History of Middle-earth

In 1980, Christopher Tolkien published a collection of more fragmentary material, under the title Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth. In subsequent years (1983–1996), he published a large amount of the remaining unpublished materials, together with notes and extensive commentary, in a series of twelve volumes called The History of Middle-earth. They contain unfinished, abandoned, alternative, and outright contradictory accounts, since they were always a work in progress for Tolkien and he only rarely settled on a definitive version for any of the stories. There is not complete consistency between The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, the two most closely related works, because Tolkien never fully integrated all their traditions into each other. He commented in 1965, while editing The Hobbit for a third edition, that he would have preferred to rewrite the book completely because of the style of its prose. [137]

Works compiled by Christopher Tolkien

Date Title Description
2007 The Children of Húrin tells the story of Túrin Turambar and his sister Nienor, children of Húrin Thalion. [138]
2009 The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún retells the legend of Sigurd and the fall of the Niflungs from Germanic mythology as a narrative poem in alliterative verse, modelled after the Old Norse poetry of the Elder Edda. [139]
2013 The Fall of Arthur is a narrative poem that Tolkien composed in the early 1930s, inspired by high medieval Arthurian fiction but set in the Post-Roman Migration Period, showing Arthur as a British warlord fighting the Saxon invasion. [140]
2014 Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary is a prose translation of Beowulf that Tolkien made in the 1920s, with commentary from Tolkien's lecture notes. [141] [142]
2015 The Story of Kullervo is a retelling of a 19th-century Finnish poem that Tolkien wrote in 1915 while studying at Oxford. [143]
2017 The Tale of Beren and Lúthien is one of the oldest and most often revised in Tolkien's legendarium a version appeared in The Silmarillion. [144]
2018 The Fall of Gondolin tells of a beautiful, mysterious city destroyed by dark forces Tolkien called it "the first real story" of Middle-earth. [145] [146]

Manuscript locations

Before his death, Tolkien negotiated the sale of the manuscripts, drafts, proofs and other materials related to his then-published works—including The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and Farmer Giles of Ham—to the Department of Special Collections and University Archives at Marquette University's John P. Raynor, S.J., Library in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. [147] After his death his estate donated the papers containing Tolkien's Silmarillion mythology and his academic work to the Bodleian Library at Oxford University. [148] The Library held an exhibition of his work in 2018, including more than 60 items which had never been seen in public before. [149]

In 2009, a partial draft of Language and Human Nature, which Tolkien had begun co-writing with C. S. Lewis but had never completed, was discovered at the Bodleian Library. [150]

Linguistic career

Both Tolkien's academic career and his literary production are inseparable from his love of language and philology. He specialized in English philology at university and in 1915 graduated with Old Norse as his special subject. He worked on the Oxford English Dictionary from 1918 and is credited with having worked on a number of words starting with the letter W, including walrus, over which he struggled mightily. [151] In 1920, he became Reader in English Language at the University of Leeds, where he claimed credit for raising the number of students of linguistics from five to twenty. He gave courses in Old English heroic verse, history of English, various Old English and Middle English texts, Old and Middle English philology, introductory Germanic philology, Gothic, Old Icelandic, and Medieval Welsh. When in 1925, aged thirty-three, Tolkien applied for the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professorship of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College, Oxford, he boasted that his students of Germanic philology in Leeds had even formed a "Viking Club". [T 11] He also had a certain, if imperfect, knowledge of Finnish. [152]

Privately, Tolkien was attracted to "things of racial and linguistic significance", and in his 1955 lecture English and Welsh, which is crucial to his understanding of race and language, he entertained notions of "inherent linguistic predilections", which he termed the "native language" as opposed to the "cradle-tongue" which a person first learns to speak. [153] He considered the West Midlands dialect of Middle English to be his own "native language", and, as he wrote to W. H. Auden in 1955, "I am a West-midlander by blood (and took to early west-midland Middle English as a known tongue as soon as I set eyes on it)." [T 12]

Language construction

Parallel to Tolkien's professional work as a philologist, and sometimes overshadowing this work, to the effect that his academic output remained rather thin, was his affection for constructing languages. The most developed of these are Quenya and Sindarin, the etymological connection between which formed the core of much of Tolkien's legendarium. Language and grammar for Tolkien was a matter of aesthetics and euphony, and Quenya in particular was designed from "phonaesthetic" considerations it was intended as an "Elven-latin", and was phonologically based on Latin, with ingredients from Finnish, Welsh, English, and Greek. [T 13] A notable addition came in late 1945 with Adûnaic or Númenórean, a language of a "faintly Semitic flavour", connected with Tolkien's Atlantis legend, which by The Notion Club Papers ties directly into his ideas about the inability of language to be inherited, and via the "Second Age" and the story of Eärendil was grounded in the legendarium, thereby providing a link of Tolkien's 20th-century "real primary world" with the legendary past of his Middle-earth.

Tolkien considered languages inseparable from the mythology associated with them, and he consequently took a dim view of auxiliary languages: in 1930 a congress of Esperantists were told as much by him, in his lecture A Secret Vice, [154] "Your language construction will breed a mythology", but by 1956 he had concluded that "Volapük, Esperanto, Ido, Novial, &c, &c, are dead, far deader than ancient unused languages, because their authors never invented any Esperanto legends". [T 14]

The popularity of Tolkien's books has had a small but lasting effect on the use of language in fantasy literature in particular, and even on mainstream dictionaries, which today commonly accept Tolkien's idiosyncratic spellings dwarves and dwarvish (alongside dwarfs and dwarfish), which had been little used since the mid-19th century and earlier. (In fact, according to Tolkien, had the Old English plural survived, it would have been dwarrows or dwerrows.) He also coined the term eucatastrophe, though it remains mainly used in connection with his own work.

Tolkien learnt to paint and draw as a child, and continued to do so all his adult life. From early in his writing career, the development of his stories was accompanied by drawings and paintings, especially of landscapes, and by maps of the lands in which the tales were set. He also produced pictures to accompany the stories told to his own children, including those later published in Mr Bliss and Roverandom, and sent them elaborately illustrated letters purporting to come from Father Christmas. Although he regarded himself as an amateur, the publisher used the author's own cover art, his maps, and full-page illustrations for the early editions of The Hobbit. He prepared maps and illustrations for The Lord of the Rings, but the first edition contained only the maps, his calligraphy for the inscription on the One Ring, and his ink drawing of the Doors of Durin. Much of his artwork was collected and published in 1995 as a book: J. R. R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator. The book discusses Tolkien's paintings, drawings, and sketches, and reproduces approximately 200 examples of his work. [155] Catherine McIlwaine curated a major exhibition of Tolkien's artwork at the Bodleian Library, Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth, accompanied by a book of the same name that analyses Tolkien's achievement and illustrates the full range of the types of artwork that he created. [156]


While many other authors had published works of fantasy before Tolkien, the great success of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings led directly to a popular resurgence and the shaping of the modern fantasy genre. This has caused Tolkien to be popularly identified as the "father" of modern fantasy literature [157] [158] —or, more precisely, of high fantasy, [159] as in the work of authors such as Ursula Le Guin and her Earthsea series. [160] In 2008, The Times ranked him sixth on a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". [161] His influence has extended to music, including the Danish group the Tolkien Ensemble's setting of all the poetry in The Lord of the Rings to their vocal music [162] and to a broad range of games set in Middle-earth. [163]


In a 1951 letter to publisher Milton Waldman (1895–1976), Tolkien wrote about his intentions to create a "body of more or less connected legend", of which "[t]he cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama". [T 15] The hands and minds of many artists have indeed been inspired by Tolkien's legends. Personally known to him were Pauline Baynes (Tolkien's favourite illustrator of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Farmer Giles of Ham) and Donald Swann (who set the music to The Road Goes Ever On). Queen Margrethe II of Denmark created illustrations to The Lord of the Rings in the early 1970s. She sent them to Tolkien, who was struck by the similarity they bore in style to his own drawings. [164] Tolkien was not implacably opposed to the idea of a dramatic adaptation, however, and sold the film, stage and merchandise rights of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1968. United Artists never made a film, although director John Boorman was planning a live-action film in the early 1970s. In 1976, the rights were sold to Tolkien Enterprises, a division of the Saul Zaentz Company, and the first film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings was released in 1978 as an animated rotoscoping film directed by Ralph Bakshi with screenplay by the fantasy writer Peter S. Beagle. It covered only the first half of the story of The Lord of the Rings. [165] In 1977, an animated musical television film of The Hobbit was made by Rankin-Bass, and in 1980, they produced the animated musical television film The Return of the King, which covered some of the portions of The Lord of the Rings that Bakshi was unable to complete. From 2001 to 2003, New Line Cinema released The Lord of the Rings as a trilogy of live-action films that were filmed in New Zealand and directed by Peter Jackson. The series was successful, performing extremely well commercially and winning numerous Oscars. [166] From 2012 to 2014, Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema released The Hobbit, a series of three films based on The Hobbit, with Peter Jackson serving as executive producer, director, and co-writer. [167] The first instalment, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, was released in December 2012 [168] the second, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, in December 2013 [169] and the last instalment, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, in December 2014. [170] In 2017, Amazon acquired the global television rights to The Lord of the Rings, for a series of new stories set before The Fellowship of the Ring. [171] [172]


Tolkien and the characters and places from his works have become eponyms of many real-world objects. These include astronomical features such as on Saturn's moon Titan, [173] street names such as There and Back Again Lane, inspired by The Hobbit, [174] mountains such as Mount Shadowfax, Mount Gandalf and Mount Aragorn in Canada, [175] [176] companies such as Palantir Technologies, [177] and species including the wasp Shireplitis tolkieni, [178] 37 new species of Elachista moths, [178] [179] and many fossils. [180] [181] [182]

Since 2003, The Tolkien Society has organized Tolkien Reading Day, which takes place on 25 March in schools around the world. [183] In 2013, Pembroke College, Oxford University established an annual lecture on fantasy literature in Tolkien's honour. [184] In 2012, Tolkien was among the British cultural icons selected by artist Sir Peter Blake to appear in a new version of his most famous artwork—the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover—to celebrate the British cultural figures of his life that he most admired. [185] [186] A 2019 biographical film, Tolkien, focused on Tolkien's early life and war experiences. [187] The Tolkien family and estate stated that they did not "approve of, authorise or participate in the making of" the film. [188]

Several blue plaques in England that commemorate places associated with Tolkien, including for his childhood, his workplaces, and places he visited. [42] [189] [190]

Address Commemoration Date unveiled Issued by
Sarehole Mill, Hall Green, Birmingham "Inspired" 1896–1900 (i.e. lived nearby) 15 August 2002 Birmingham Civic Society and The Tolkien Society [191]
1 Duchess Place, Ladywood, Birmingham Lived near here 1902–1910 Unknown Birmingham Civic Society [192]
4 Highfield Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham Lived here 1910–1911 Unknown Birmingham Civic Society and The Tolkien Society [193]
Plough and Harrow, Hagley Road, Birmingham Stayed here June 1916 June 1997 The Tolkien Society [194]
2 Darnley Road, West Park, Leeds First academic appointment, Leeds 1 October 2012 The Tolkien Society and Leeds Civic Trust [195]
20 Northmoor Road, North Oxford Lived here 1930–1947 3 December 2002 Oxfordshire Blue Plaques Board [196]
Hotel Miramar, East Overcliff Drive, Bournemouth Stayed here regularly from the 1950s until 1972 10 June 1992 by Priscilla Tolkien Borough of Bournemouth [197]

Canonization process

On 2 September 2017, the Oxford Oratory, Tolkien's parish church during his time in Oxford, offered its first Mass for the intention of Tolkien's cause for beatification to be opened. [198] [199] A prayer was written for his cause. [198]

Origins of U.S. nuclear strategy

By the early 1950s both the Soviet Union and the West were making impressive technological strides in what American futurist Herman Kahn called “the Model T era” of atomic warfare. To many Western strategists, the development of the hydrogen bomb with its incredible killing potential spelled the end of conventional ground warfare. Despite the example of Korea, the next war, they reasoned, would be fought by the thermonuclear giants, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. Such a holocaust could only be avoided by a strategy of nuclear deterrence, and the development of a sizable nuclear arsenal would provide the cornerstone of U.S. Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “ New Look” defense policy. Of the massive stockpiles of weapons that the U.S. and the Soviet Union would go on to acquire, Winston Churchill famously quipped, “If you go on with this nuclear arms race, all you are going to do is make the rubble bounce.”

The primary delivery vehicle for nuclear weapons in this era was the heavy bomber, and, to retain its superiority in the atomic field, the U.S. gave defense priority to building a massive bomber fleet, the Strategic Air Command (SAC). U.S. intelligence analysts had mistakenly concluded that Soviet bomber aircraft technology and production rates were superior to those of the U.S. The perception of a “bomber gap” induced Eisenhower to order the immediate production of more bombers. As was later discovered, the bomber gap did not actually exist.

The growth of nuclear parity between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., the inevitability of other nations producing atomic bombs, the worldwide abhorrence of the employment of such weapons, and the increasing reliance of communist nations on a far less technically sophisticated type of war all seemed to be diminishing the prospect of an atomic war between the two superpowers. This situation did not mean a return to conventional warfare as defined by the West, however. Communist guerrillas in 1959, acting on instructions from the communist government of North Vietnam, challenged the government of South Vietnam, an insurgency made more successful because the South Vietnamese army—having been trained by U.S. Army military advisers in conventional tactics in order to oppose a Korean-like invasion from the north—was ill-prepared to combat a guerrilla foe. The growing nuclear stalemate and insurgencies such as the one in Vietnam caused the West, and particularly the U.S., to begin broadening its primary policy of nuclear deterrence against aggression.

The Shwayder Family: From Back-Pack Peddling to Samsonite Luggage, Denver, Colorado

Isaac Shwayer was born in 1855 in Poland.

Hr emigrated to England and studied to be a cantor and rabbi.

In Manchester, he met and, after a two year courtship, married Rachel Kobey , whose parents had also emigrated from Poland.


Isaac came to America in 1879, and traveled to Central City, Colorado to work with Rachel’s uncle, Abe Rachofsky , who owned a dry goods business.

Isaac began peddling in the surrounding mining towns, selling out of his heavy back-pack.

Within two years he had saved enough money to rent a house and send for his family.

Isaac Shwayder became the acting rabbi for the Jewish community, officiating at religious festivals held in the Odd Fellows Hall above his uncle’s store.

When Issac’s oldest son, Sol , began to attend school, Rachel studied with him at home and learned to read and write English.

Rachel convinced Isaac to move their now family of six to Denver.

Denver, Colorado

I n Denver, Issac Shwayder first opened a grocery store and then a used furniture store.

Rachel took in two boarders and their oldest daughter, Dora , gave piano lessons.

Their second son, Jesse , had a clear soprano voice and, at the age of nine, was discovered by Wilberforce Whiteman ( father of Paul Whiteman), the Director of Music of the Denver schools.

Jesse earned fifty-cents a week singing in St. John’s Cathedral on Sundays.

At 13, Jesse became proficient playing the violin, so Dora and Jesse were hired to play at weddings.

Lack of funds prevented Jesse from attending college, so he worked in his father’s furniture store.

I n 1903, Jesse convinced Isaac to sell the store and open a luggage shop.

Jesse was noticed by one of their suppliers and invited to come to New York City as a salesman for the Seward Luggage Company .

In his first year , Jesse Shwayder earned over $4,000 in commissions – a vast sum at that time.

In 1910, Jesse returned to Denver and opened his own luggage factory with his father, Isaac, as his lead salesman.

The whole family jumped in to help. The Shwayder Trunk Manufacturing Company began to grow.

Instead of competing with low pricing, Isaac insisted that they make high quality merchandise and price it at the highest price it would bear in the luxury marketplace.

In 1916, the Shwayders took a picture that would become an advertising coup.

Four brothers and their father stood on a plank positioned atop one of their suitcases with the caption: “Strong enough to stand on.”

With five portly Shwayder men weighing more than 1,000 pounds together, the picture was striking and became their advertising and direct-mail gimmick for several years.

The Samsonite: Strong Enough To Stand On

Isaac Shwayder died suddenly of a stroke in 1916.

Rachel Shwayder took his life insurance money and put it toward a new and larger factory that opened in 1917.

Jesse Shwayder was president of the company from 1910 to 1960.

Mark Shwayder became the head of sales.

Sol Shwayder, now a lawyer, became attorney for the firm.

Vintage Samsonite luggage, circa 1960s

Maurice and Ben Shwayder became the production manager s.

The orginal name of their luggage was Samson – honoring the strength of the biblical hero of the same name.

Today, we know their luggage as Samsonite , the largest manufacturer of luggage in the world.

The Golden Marble

Jesse Shwayder’s official corporate philosophy was the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have others do to you.”

All company officers and salesmen carried a Golden Marble , which they were told to take out and look at whenever they had to make an important business decision.

When visiting the family’s factories in later years, Jesse Shwayder would ask to see the Golden Marble. Any employee who could show it got a one hour paid work-break.


T he Shwayder family funded the Shwayder Art Center at the University of Denver.


Maurice Shwayder had a summer place, a 242 acre facility on the slopes of Mt. Evans, that was given to Temple Emanuel to use as a summer camp for the Jewish community.


Rachel and Isaac Shwayder had 11 children: Solomon, Dora, Jesse, Raschelle, Mark, Florence, Gertrude, Maurice, Hannah, Benjamin , and Liebe .

Isaac Shwayder died in 1916.

Rachel Kobey Shwayder died in 1938.

They are buried together in the Mt. Nebo Memorial Park in Aurora, Colorado.

In February 2019, the Shwayder family home in Denver, CO, received a Denver Landmark Designation . JMAW was pleased to provide photographs for a news segment on CBS Denver :

Thank you to Mandell Winter who updated family information for us.

After 36 years in same office, they retire together, too

Charlotte Schweder walked out of Whiteco Industries' seventh-floor conference room to grab another scrapbook for longtime "work husband" Bill Wellman.

"Can I get you anything, honey?" she asked before catching her verbal miscue.

"Oh my, that's a first. I've never done that in our 36 years together," she said with a chuckle.

Schweder started working as Wellman's personal secretary — yes, secretary, not administrative assistant — in June 1979 when the landmark Star Plaza Theater was still under construction.

Schweder and Wellman have had quite a run together, but the curtain is finally coming down on their careers, intertwined on a daily basis for nearly four decades.

"Since day one, I always vowed that I would retire when Bill retires, and that time has finally come," said Schweder, who was hesitant to start the job after a tedious three-hour interview. "I wasn't sure if I really wanted the job. I'm so glad I stayed on."

Wellman, who is Northwest Indiana's master showman, will retire next week. He just turned 91. Schweder, a mother of three, grandmother of six and great-grandmother of six more, will retire next month. She purposely chose to retire one month later than Wellman so she didn't steal any of his spotlight.

Too bad, I told her up front. Her professional loyalty to the same boss for this long is unheard of in our fast-changing workforce.

"If it wasn't for Bill, I wouldn't have lasted here this long," the Hobart woman told me. "If all the bosses in the world were like Bill, everyone else would love to go to work, too."

Wellman started with Whiteco in 1976. His first job was helping to design the Star Plaza Theater while working in the same twin-towers building in Merrillville.

"For the first six months, people here didn't know who the hell I was even though Mr. White hired me," Wellman said.

Mr. White, of course, is Dean White, the 92-year-old billionaire businessman who is in poor health these days. Still, he comes into his office on the seventh floor on a regular basis.

"Nobody is allowed an appointment with Mr. White anymore," Schweder said in a hushed tone.

"He's from the old school of business," Wellman said. "But he's been good to me."

On the conference room wall is a portrait of White's father, George White, looking over Wellman and Schweder as they glanced through another scrapbook. Schweder has created a scrapbook of memories for every year they've been together — their projects, their headlines, their accomplishments.

"I love to go through these," Wellman said wistfully. "Now more than ever."

For 36 years this month, Schweder has worked Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., day in and day out. She's missed only a handful of work days due to sickness or other reasons, reflecting White's old-school attitude regarding work.

"It's because we love what we do," Wellman said. "Plus, we've had a lot of fun."

Many years ago, Schweder lost an earring in Wellman's car and his first wife found it. She wasn't too happy about it until she learned it was Schweder's earring.

"Yeah, that was a fun day," Wellman said, looking through a scrapbook.

They've also had fun planning so many events, including the Hoosier Hoopla Air Show in the late 1980s, which predated the Gary Air Show. They also had their hands in the potential deal when the Chicago Bears considered moving to Northwest Indiana.

"It was a closer deal than people think," Wellman said.

They vividly remember all the big-name headliners from a bygone era who routinely took the stage at the Star Plaza Theater — Liberace, Tom Jones, Perry Como, Engelbert Humperdinck and others.

"I remember when theater tickets were $9.95 for a performance," Schweder recalled.

"Those big-name ticket-sellers are no longer around," Wellman said. "They've never been replaced."

Liberace would ask for $50,000 in advance, a year before his performance date. But he always made a profit for the theater.

"Liberace's name worked like magic on the billboard. He had such showmanship," said Wellman, whose own legacy is steeped in showmanship.

The World War II veteran's rural Valparaiso home is a museum of sorts, paying homage to the Marines, local sports and Hollywood's heyday. When he retires, he plans to focus on his "taps initiative" project.

Its mission is to get cities and towns across the country to play a digital version of taps each night at dusk using public speakers via a timing device that is commonly used to auto-activate lights in parking lots. Wellman is convinced it will take off.

"Now I have the time to devote to it," he said.

Through the years together, both Wellman and Schweder have lost their parents, and Wellman has lost his first wife (he has since remarried).

"My wife, Roberta, is still young and lively," Wellman said. "She's just 70."

Schweder has been married for 47 years (her second marriage) to husband Ron, who retired a few years ago. She's looking forward to traveling, cooking and socializing with her "girlfriends."

"Ron doesn't like to go like I like to go, so we'll see how it goes," she said.

She'll miss dressing up every morning for her job as well as her work family, including a couple of female workers who've been there as long as she has.

See Long's entry in the Oxford DNB. On 7 x 17 cm piece of paper, laid down on slightly larger piece of thick paper cut from an album. In good condition, lightly aged. Three lines of text by Long in clerk's hand, reading 'Registred accordinge to Ex Art within [mentioned?] ye [?] day of July 1667[.] And to be paid in coarse [?] after 397338 16 1'. A good example of Long's neat signature, larger and underlined with a tight flourish, beneath the text and towards the right.

Tritton was educated at Winchester College, and in later life held the office of High Sheriff of Essex. He served as War Office Publicity Officer between 1940 and 1945 (the first civilian to hold the post). The present items exhibit the candour and evocative immediacy for which his wartime diaries were praised on their publication in 2012. Two long letters to 'Darling', both 2pp, 4to. Both in good condition, lightly aged, and folded twice. ONE (signed 'R.'): Thirty-eight lines of text. He is writing her a second letter of the day, prompted by boredom and the want of something else to do'.


Miller Grieve White, 92, a retired Army major general who was a personnel specialist during most of his military career, died of a heart ailment Oct. 26 at Goodwin House in Alexandria.

Gen. White was president of the Army's personnel board when he retired in 1955. During World War II he was assistant chief of staff for personnel, and in that capacity guided the Army's expansion from a force of 3.5 million to more than 8 million. He also planned the first exchange of seriously ill and wounded prisoners of war between the Allies and Germany.

Gen. White, a native of Macon, Ga., enlisted in the Army during World War I and served in a machine gun battalion. He was wounded in France and received a Purple Heart.

After the war he returned to Macon where he served on the city police force and later received a commission in the Georgia National Guard. He attended the Army's Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. In 1937, he was called to active duty and assigned to the War Department in Washington as a personnel officer.

During the final months of World War II, Gen. White served in Italy, and he served in Germany after the war. He returned to this area in 1948 and lived in Alexandria after his retirement from the Army.

He was a former member of the vestry at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Alexandria and more recently had been a member of Grace Episcopal Church there.

His first wife, Allie Jeff Doster White, died in 1968, and his second wife, Margaret Keyser Smith White, died in 1979.

Survivors include three children of his first marriage, Dorothy W. Bakke of Alexandria, Robin W. Marlow of Golden, Colo., and retired Air Force Col. Miller G. White Jr. of San Antonio one stepdaughter, Patsy Ticer of Alexandria 11 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

TIMOTHY F. DONOHUE, 84, a retired Navy rear admiral who commanded a mine sweeper squadron in the Pacific in World War II and a troop transport at the Inchon landing in the Korean war, died in Annapolis Oct. 24 of cardiac arrest.

Adm. Donohue, who lived in Arlington, was stricken while attending his 60th class reunion at the U.S. Naval Academy and the Navy-Pittsburgh football game.

A native of Lawrence, Mass., he graduated from the Naval Academy in 1927. He studied at the Navy Postgraduate School and received a master's degree in mechanical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley.

In the years prior to World War II, Adm. Donohue's assignments included duty aboard the battleship Utah and various destroyers. He also attended the submarine school at New London, Conn., and served on submarines in the Atlantic fleet.

During the war, he commanded a mine sweeping squadron in the Ryukyu Islands and the Yellow Sea. He later was stationed in Japan. He was at sea again during the Korean War and took part in the amphibious operation at Inchon that turned the tide of battle in the early months of that conflict.

Adm. Donohue was the intelligence officer of the Third Naval District in New York when he retired from the Navy in 1953. His military decorations included two awards of the Legion of Merit and two of the Bronze Star, all with the "combat V" device.

He later worked for a Ford automobile dealership in Brooklyn, N.Y., and engaged in the real estate business in Boston. He moved to Arlington in 1952.

Adm. Donohue attended Catholic services at the Fort Myer Chapel. He was a member of the Japan American Society, the Naval Academy Alumni Association and the Ancient and Honorable Artillery Company of Massachusetts.

His marriage to the former Alice Rayne ended in divorce.

Survivors include his wife, Alice Chmiel Donohue of Arlington one stepdaughter, Alice Bassoff of Arlington, and two brothers, Charles Donohue of Lawrence and retired Army Lt. Col. Joseph Donohue of Orange, Va.

THE REV. WILLIAM H. SCHWEDER, 78, a Jesuit priest who taught mathematics and logic at Georgetown University for 32 years, died of heart ailments Oct. 25 at St. Joseph's University infirmary in Philadelphia.

Father Schweder was born in Trenton, N.J. He studied briefly at St. Joseph's University before entering the Jesuit novitiate in Wernersville, Pa. Later he graduated from Maryland's Woodstock College, where he also earned licentiates in philosophy and theology. He received a master's degree in mathematics from Georgetown.

He was ordained at Woodstock in 1940.

In 1942, Father Schweder joined the Georgetown faculty. He retired in 1974 and for the next four years he taught mathematics at Georgetown Visitation Preparatory School.

From 1962 until 1983 he was chaplain of Georgetown's Washington Alumni Club, and earlier he had served as chaplain of the nursing school at Georgetown. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Father Schweder also was chaplain of the Washington Redskins and Philadelphia Eagles football teams.

He lived in the Jesuit Community at Georgetown until early 1986, when he was admitted to the St. Joseph's infirmary.

Survivors include one sister, Ruth Kelliher of Trenton.

DEBEBE HURISSIE, 53, a former Ethiopian national police colonel and ambassador who lived in Hyattsville after seeking political asylum here, died Oct. 18 at Leland Memorial Hospital after a heart attack.

Col. Debebe had lived in Hyattsville since 1981 when he was granted political asylum in the United States. He had served for the previous four years as Ethiopian ambassador to the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, but he had had a falling out with the Ethiopian government.

Since then he had been studying computer programming at the University of Maryland and was working on a doctoral degree in law there.

A native of Shoa, Ethiopia, Col. Debebe studied police science and law at the police college in Addis Ababa. He had a law diploma from University College there and he had also studied at the International Police Academy in Washington. He had master's degrees in comparative law and in law and criminology from George Washington University.

He served in the Ethiopian national police force, and later as a provincial governor in Ethiopia before he was named ambassador in 1978.

Survivors include his wife, Alemitu Ibssa, and two daughters, Zwed Debebe and Gelaye Debebe, all of Hyattsville.

SHERMAN F. EULER, 77, a retired State Department Foreign Service officer who had done administrative work at U.S. embassies in Turkey and Japan and who was active in the Presbyterian Church, died Oct. 27 at the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Martinsburg, W.Va. He had Alzheimer's disease.

Mr. Euler, a resident of Falls Church, was born in Crawfordsville, Ind. He attended Illinois Wesleyan College and Wabash College. During World War II, he served in the Army in Europe.

After the war, he joined the Veterans Administration in St. Louis. He transferred to Washington in 1950 and joined the State Department about two years later. He retired in 1964 and recieved the Superior Honor Award.

He was recalled to State from retirement on several occasions. His last assignment was working in the Vietnamese refugee program in the mid-1970s.

Mr. Euler was a ruling elder of the Munson Hill Presbyterian Church in Falls Church and the Fairlington Presbyterian Church in Alexandria. He was an officer of the Men's Council of the Falls Church Presbyterian Church and a director of the Child Development Center in Falls Church. He was a member of the Falls Church Rotary Club and the Falls Church Garden Club.

Survivors include his wife, Lucille M. Euler of Falls Church.

AMOS GARY JONES, 72, a retired diplomatic courier with the State Department's Foreign Service, died Oct. 24 at Arlington Hospital after a heart attack.

Mr. Jones, who lived in Arlington, was born in Newville, Ala. He grew up in Orange, N.J. During World War II he served in the Army in the South Pacific.

He moved to the Washington area after the war and joined the State Department. During his career he had been chief of diplomatic pouch operations in Paris and Manila. He also served in Germany and Thailand.

Mr. Jones was a former president of the U.S. Diplomatic Courier Organization and a member of the American Legion.

His marriage to Adele Jones ended in divorce.

There are no immediate survivors.

BONNIE J. BRADY, 62, a volunteer coordinator for Reach to Recovery, a support group for women who have had breast cancer, died of cancer Oct. 26 at Walter Reed Army Hospital.

Mrs. Brady, who lived in Arlington, was born in Boise, Idaho. She attended Boise Junior College and the University of Chicago before moving to Washington in 1948 to work in the election campaign of President Truman.

She worked for the Displaced Persons Commission in Salzburg, Austria, from 1949 to 1952, then accompanied her husband, John J. Brady Jr., on Army assignments before moving to the Washington area as a permanent resident in 1961.

For about the last six years, Mrs. Brady had done volunteer work for the Northern Virginia Cancer Society.

In addition to her husband, of Arlington, Mrs. Brady is survived by one son, John J. Brady III of Woodbridge.

You've only scratched the surface of Schweder family history.

Between 1944 and 2004, in the United States, Schweder life expectancy was at its lowest point in 1944, and highest in 2001. The average life expectancy for Schweder in 1944 was 49, and 85 in 2004.

An unusually short lifespan might indicate that your Schweder ancestors lived in harsh conditions. A short lifespan might also indicate health problems that were once prevalent in your family. The SSDI is a searchable database of more than 70 million names. You can find birthdates, death dates, addresses and more.

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