Oxford professor J.R.R. Tolkien is considered one of the greatest fantasy authors of all time. Some of his most famous works include the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit, both of which now have highly respected movie adaptations. If you watch the movies or read the books, you’ll notice that the Professor, as his fans call him, did a lot more than just write stories: he created languages. That’s right! The elves, dwarves, orcs, and other creatures speak real languages planned out and constructed by Tolkien to sound the way he wanted.
Scholars can see manuscripts featuring languages and maps of Tolkien’s invented world, Middle Earth, as well as copies of his published works at Marquette University’s J.R.R. Tolkien Collection. If you are not a scholar, you can find Tolkien’s books at any public library.
Much of Middle Earth’s culture and history was heavily influenced by Tolkien’s interest in Norse mythology as well as experiences from his own life. This article of the Tolkien Society has a lot of information for those curious about his childhood, service in World War I, friendship with equally famous author C.S. Lewis, and more. Also, those of you who are already familiar with Tolkien’s works should check out this article about Norse influences in his writings of www.academia.edu. Scroll down to the paragraph about dwarves. Notice any familiar names?
This is the first stop on our Wisconsin Trail.