Christopher Tolkien - Life

Life

Christopher Tolkien was born in Leeds, England, the third and youngest son of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien. He was educated at the Dragon School in Oxford and then at the Oratory School. He was commissioned into the Royal Air Force in March 1945 and briefly served as a pilot, reaching the rank of Flying Officer before transferring to the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm. After the war he read English at Oxford University, taking his B.A. in 1949 and his B.Litt. a few years later.

He had long been part of the critical audience for his father's fiction, first as a child listening to tales of Bilbo Baggins (which were published as The Hobbit), and then as a teenager and young adult offering much feedback on The Lord of the Rings during its 15-year gestation. He had the task of interpreting his father's sometimes self-contradictory maps of Middle-earth in order to produce the versions used in the books, and he re-drew the main map in the late 1970s to clarify the lettering and correct some errors and omissions.

He published Saga of King Heidrek the Wise: "Translated from the Icelandic with Introduction, Notes and Appendices by Christopher Tolkien" in 1960. Later, Tolkien followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a lecturer and tutor in English Language at New College, Oxford, from 1964 to 1975.

In 2001, he received some attention for his stance toward The Lord of the Rings film trilogy directed by Peter Jackson. He expressed doubts over the viability of a film interpretation that retained the essence of the work, but stressed that this was just his opinion. He voiced sharper criticism in a 2012 interview with Le Monde: "They gutted the book, making an action film for 15 to 25-year-olds."

Christopher Tolkien currently lives in France with his second wife, Baillie Tolkien (née Klass), who edited J. R. R. Tolkien's The Father Christmas Letters for posthumous publication. They have two children, Adam Reuel Tolkien and Rachel Clare Reuel Tolkien. He disowned his son by his first marriage, barrister and novelist Simon Mario Reuel Tolkien, after a dispute surrounding the making of the The Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

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