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Biography of a Great Smoker J.R.R. Tolkien

Sometimes known as the ‘greatest writer of the 20th century’, Tolkien has influenced innumerable writers, artists and novelists as well as capturing the imagination of generation after generation. His influence has even spread into the world of pipes which feature heavily in his literature and created the market for churchwarden-style pipes featured in the movies of his book ‘The Lord of the Rings’.

Over the past 15 years, movies made from the aforementioned ‘Lord of the rings’ and another of his books ‘The HHobbit’ have generated billions of pounds, exemplifying the magnitude of his influence and the enduring popularity of his work often carried out with a pipe dangling from his lips.

One of Tolkien’s most loved and best known characters Gandalf was an avid pipe smoker, being shown on screen almost constantly with his trusted pipe and being able to produce exhalations of smoke in intricate shapes such as boats. ‘The Lord of the Rings’ often showed times of celebration as a cause to enjoy a hearty pipe with fun loving Hobbits Merry and Pippin often lighting up a celebratory pipe.

JRR Tolkien Pipe smoking

Tolkien’s stories were initially intended to be written for a younger audience, producing them as entertainment for his children. Using influences from tomes such as Beowulf, Tolkien set about creating a fantasy world full of monsters and unexpected heroes. However, the epic scale of the stories meant that his works soon transcended the generational gaps and are now enjoyed by people of all age and from all round the world.

Tolkien was born in South Africa to English parents in the late 19th century. A wealthy family, Tolkien enjoyed a privileged childhood and was a part of British gentry by the time he enlisted for the army during World War 1. Like so many of the upper class men in the military of that time, Tolkien had already become something of an avid pipe smoker, enjoying tobacco whilst serving his country.

Whilst recovering from the war, Tolkien began working on his early novels, known as ‘The Book of Lost Tales’. During this time, Tolkien supported himself studying the etymology of words for the Oxford English Dictionary. It is widely believed that this stint helped him create a number of fictional languages featured in his books.

Since his books have been turned into Hollywood blockbusters over the past 15 years, the influence of J.R.R. Tolkien has never been greater, even leading to a purported increase in the sales of pipes and pipe tobacco.


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