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The Father of Fantasy

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J.R.R. Tolkien

When most people think of fantasy novels and movies, they think of elegant elves, strong dwarves, fire-breathing dragons, and epic adventures through exciting lands. That’s largely because of one author: J. R. R. Tolkien.

Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892—130 years ago. His first novel, The Hobbit, was published in 1937. It was set in a fantastic land called Middle Earth and followed the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, who’s part of a human-like species called hobbits. He goes on an adventure with a wizard and 13 dwarves to seek out treasure guarded by a giant dragon. It was so popular that his publishers asked him to create a sequel, leading to the first book of the Lord of the Rings trilogy in 1954.

These books forever changed how people thought about fiction. “Tolkien put fantasy back on the map,” says Corey Olsen, a Tolkien scholar and founder of Signum University. At the time Tolkien was writing, fantasy was considered only for young kids. Tolkien’s books showed that it had a place in fiction for all ages.

The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings books are as popular as ever. They’ve inspired movie adaptations and a new TV series from Amazon coming in fall 2022. “Tolkien’s writing is really powerful because he doesn’t focus on characters or plot, he focuses on the world,” says Olsen. “If you fall in love with Middle Earth itself, you’re a Tolkien fan for life.”

Answer the questions using the charts and graphs above. Record your work and answers on our answer sheet.

What is the word count of the first book about Middle Earth to be published?

A. 95,356

B. 130,115

C. 137,115

D. 156,198

What percent of characters from books set in Middle Earth are elves and half-elves?

A. 6%

B. 12%

C. 26%

D. 50%

What is the average number of words in the books about Middle Earth?

A. 98,515

B. 141,315

C. 155,225

D. 251,775

How many known dwarves and orcs combined are in the books about Middle Earth?

A. 20

B. 37

C. 75

D. 112

Which of the Middle Earth movies is the longest?

A. The Fellowship of the Ring

B. The Two Towers

C. The Return of the King

D. The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

How long is the movie adaptation of The Two Towers in hours and minutes?

A. 2 h, 13 min

B. 2 h, 31 min

C. 2 h, 59 min

D. 3 h, 21 min

There were 74 female hobbits in the Middle Earth books. What percent of hobbits is that?

If about 300 words per page are in a printed book, about how many pages would be in a printed book of The Silmarillion?

If you wanted to do a movie marathon and watch all of the Middle Earth movies in a row, about how many hours and minutes would that take?

Poll your class on what their favorite genre of book to read is. (Visit for a poll template.) Then make a circle graph of the results.

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