9 Things you may not have known about J.R.R. Tolkien…

JRR

Happy Friday!! In honor of Fun Fact Friday, I thought I would end our week with a few little facts about one of my FAVORITE authors of all times, and perhaps yours too!!!

Who doesn’t love Lord of the Rings!?! Who isn’t just mesmerized by the depth of J.R.R. Tolkien’s writing endeavors? He would definitely be on my list of top people to meet if he were still alive. Just awesomeness…

Anyway, here’s the article I found by Jason Todd. Enjoy!!


In honor of the The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, here are nine things about John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and his work that you might not have known.

He did not write The Hobbit for children

“I am not specially interested in children, and certainly not in writing for them: i.e. in addressing directly and expressly those who cannot understand adult language,” he wrote in a letter. The Hobbit reads like a children’s story because Tolkien had children of his own and was in the regular habit of making up stories for them. Nevertheless, he did not believe in writing down to anyone, especially to children. He took them seriously, even if they were not his main audience.

Though he was a voracious reader, he rarely read the same book twice

In An Experiment in Literary Criticism, C.S. Lewis said that a mark of the unliterary was that they rarely read the same book twice, and that was an accurate definition for Tolkien. “Nothing, not even a (possible) deeper appreciation, for me replaces the bloom on a book, the freshness of the unread,” he wrote. “Still, what we read and when goes, like the people we meet, by ‘fate.’”

He invented more than 14 languages

There’s debate over exactly how many languages Tolkien invented, but he was certainly a lover of languages and started inventing his own at a young age. He used some of his invented languages in his writing, and he also mastered and wrote in extinct languages such as Gothic and Medieval Welsh.

His faith unconsciously seeped into his writing

The Lord of the Rings is of course a fundamentally religious and Catholic work; unconsciously so at first, but consciously in the revision,” he wrote. “That is why I have not put in, or have cut out, practically all references to anything like ‘religion,’ to cults or practices, in the imaginary world. For the religious element is absorbed into the story and the symbolism.”

In the mind of his creator, Sam Gamgee was the real hero of The Lord of the Rings

“I think the simple ‘rustic’ love of Sam and his Rosie (nowhere elaborated) is absolutely essential to the study of his (the chief hero’s) character, and to the theme of the relation of ordinary life (breathing, eating, working, begetting) and quests, sacrifice, causes, and the ‘longing for Elves’, and sheer beauty.” If you want to understand the books, look at how Sam loves his wife.

He would have felt right at home in the Shire

Perhaps the writer created Hobbits a bit in his own image. “I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). I like gardens, trees, and unmechanized farmlands; I smoke a pipe, and like good plain food (unrefrigerated), but detest French cooking; I like, and even dare to wear in these dull days, ornamental waistcoats. I am fond of mushrooms (out of a field); have a very simple sense of humour (which even my appreciative critics find tiresome); I go to bed late and get up late (when possible). I do not travel much.”

He was a WWI veteran

Tolkien served as an officer in the Battle of Somme, but eventually had to return home when he developed a chronic fever. Several of his closest friends died in the war.

He had a very simple view of the meaning of life

“It may be said that the chief purpose of life, for any one of us, is 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.”

His fictional world and his real life often intertwined.

In The Silmarillion, Tolkien wrote a story about Beren, a mortal man, and Lúthien Tinúviel, an immortal elf maiden. Lúthien gave up her immortality to marry Beren. Two months after the death of his wife, Edith, Tolkien wrote, “I met the Lúthien Tinúviel of my own personal ‘romance’ with her long dark hair, fair face and starry eyes, and beautyiful voice. And in 1934 she was still with me, and her beautiful children. But now she has gone before Beren, leaving him indeed one-handed.” Tolkien and Edith are buried side-by-side. Below their names on their gravestone are written “Lúthien” and “Beren.”

In 1944, Tolkien’s son, Christopher, was having a rough time in camp with the army. His father wrote the following encouragement, “Well, there you are: a hobbit amongst the Urukhai. Keep up your hobbitry in heart, and think that all stories feel like that when you are in them. You are inside a very great story!”

A majority of the quotes from this article are taken from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Humphrey Carpenter with the assistance of Christopher Tolkien.


Happy Friday Ya’ll!! I challenge ya’ll to get some writing done this weekend!!! I know I need to!

Did you know? Reading is Important!

Happy Friday Everyone!

I know we talk mostly about writing on my blog, but there’s actually something even more important than that. GASP!!! I know, I know, how could I possibly utter those words? NOTHING is more important than writing, right? Well…how about the very reason we write? The purpose of why we spill words onto the page…is to read.

Reading is so important, no matter what stage of life you’re in, or so I believe anyways. Here is a small article I found with some reading facts you might find interesting.

There is overwhelming evidence that literacy has a significant relationship to people’s life chances. A person with poor literacy is more likely to live in a non-working household, live in overcrowded housing and is less likely to vote.

It is vital that children enjoy reading – motivation is essential for acquiring literacy skills. Reading for pleasure is more important than either wealth or social class as an indicator of success at school.

Young people’s reading and literacy

There are approximately 23.3% young people aged under 18 in the US today.

  • In October 2013, 16 to 24 year olds came 22nd out of 24 countries measured for literacy levels by the OECD.
  • 46% of 16 to 24 year olds don’t read for pleasure.
  • More young people volunteer than any age group, in fact 40% of all young people volunteer. Despite this, only 12% of media stories about young people are positive, almost half the articles about young people are crime related and only one in ten stories about young people actually bothers to quote a young person.
  • The UK has the lowest child wellbeing of all UN countries surveyed in 2011, below Hungary, Poland, the US and virtually every European or western nation.
  • 15.9% of all 16- to 24-year-olds in England are not in education, employment or training.
  • Reading books is the only out-of-school activity for 16-year-olds demonstrably linked to securing managerial or professional jobs.
  • 70% of pupils permanently excluded from school have difficulties in basic literacy skills.

Adults’ reading and literacy

There are still far too many people whose poor basic skills put them at a huge disadvantage in modern society.

 

  • 35% of adults don’t read for pleasure.
  • 42% of men don’t read for pleasure.
  • 60% of the prison population has difficulties in basic literacy skills.
  • 15% of the working age population in the US (5.1m people) are at or below the level of literacy expected of an 11 year old. This figure was 16% (5.2 million people) in 2003.
  • More people are at the lowest level of literacy than in 2003 – 1.7m compared to 1.1m.

There is a new understanding of the importance of adults enjoying reading, and reading for pleasure. It helps to improve skills at the same time as increasing enjoyment, self-confidence and motivation.

Libraries and reading

Reading is one of our most popular pastimes. It’s more popular than gardening, going to the cinema, going to the theatre and concerts and doing DIY.

Libraries are the US’s most significant providers of the reading experience. They have an extraordinarily wide demographic reach, and play a vital, socially equalising role by giving everyone in a local community access to reading materials, and specialist support to encourage reading for pleasure.

Libraries’ work with readers builds people’s literacy levels, educational attainment and employability. It builds confidence, self-esteem and well-being.

  • Children who are read to every day at age three have a vocabulary at age five, nearly two months in advance to those that are not.
  • A child taken to the library on a monthly basis from ages three to five is two and a half months ahead an equivalent child at age five who did not visit the library so regularly.
  • Research suggests that regular reading is associated with a 35% reduction in the risk of dementia. It can reduce stress levels by 68%.
  • Taking part in social reading activity like reading groups can help people feel less isolated and develop mental concentration and mental agility.

Hope everybody has a great weekend! Happy Reading Ya’ll!

Fun Fact Friday!!! – The Rise of New York as the Publishing Capital

Picture is a READ sculpture made of 25,000 Dr. Seuss Books at New York Public Library in 2011.

I love New York City. Like, literally love everything about it. The subway, the hot dogs, the people, the architecture…everything. I’ve been a total of 4 times and each time gets better. There’s a certain energy in that city, a certain light. And no, I don’t mean all the lights in Time Square! LOL! Just something about that place that makes me feel at home. Funny, how I’m living out in the country in Louisiana, instead. I’m not giving up hope though, that one day I can talk my husband into moving to NYC. Or at least, having enough success with my books that I can have a little studio apartment or something so I can visit whenever I want. Fingers crossed!

Anyway, since I’m fascinated with everything book and writing related, AND New York, I thought I would share a piece of this article about New York becoming the Capital in Publishing. I found it on, http://www.encyclopedia.com. Enjoy! And, if you want to read the whole article on how the Publishing Industry came about, here it is: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Publishing_industry.aspx

The Rise of New York as the Publishing Capital

The nineteenth century set a pattern of trends in the publishing industry that would continue into following centuries. By 1850, New York City had surpassed Boston and Philadelphia to become the center of the publishing industry in the United States, a position that the city occupied into the twenty-first century. Such nineteenth-century New York publishers as Harper, Putnam, and Scribner were still important names in the industry in 2000. The 1840s saw the beginning of the royalty system, and international copyright protection enacted at the end of the century ensured authors payment of their royalties. The large publishing houses that made New York so prominent in the industry exercised so much influence throughout the county that they forced many of the local printers that flourished through the 1700s and early 1800s out of business. A similar scenario occurred in the late twentieth century, when large retailers placed many local bookshops out of business.

Jessie Tarbox Beals. Washington Square Bookshop, 17 West 8th Street. ca. 1910. Museum of the City of New York. 91.53.19.

The first great New York City publishing house was Harper Bros., founded in 1817. By 1840 George Palmer Putnam, in partnership with John Wiley, had also established a publishing house in the city, and in 1846 Charles Scribner founded his publishing house in New York. Together, these three firms launched New York as the center of the U.S. book publishing industry. Like many of the city’s manufacturers, these publishers took advantage of the Erie Canal, which opened markets in the West to New York in 1825. New York publishers offered better prices than local printers did, because they could reduce overhead costs by printing and shipping books in larger quantities. Many smaller printers could not compete with this competition from the large New York publishing houses.

Like many publishers of the 1800s, Harper Bros. took advantage of the lack of international copyright enforcement. The firm printed pirated copies of works by such British authors as Charles Dickens, William Make-peace Thackeray, and Anne, Charlotte, and Emily Brontë. Harper Bros.’ best-selling pirated work by a British author was Thomas Babington Macaulay’s History of England from the Accession of James II. The book sold approximately 400,000 copies, a figure that would classify it as a nonfiction bestseller at the turn of the twentieth century. Because international copyright laws were not enforced, U.S. publishers did not pay royalties to either the British authors or their publishers. The American market had grown to be so significant that, in 1842, Dickens traveled to the United States in an effort to secure royalties from the sale of his works. He was unsuccessful at recouping this money, but the trip did give Dickens the material for his bookAmerican Notes for General Circulation, which Harper Bros. promptly pirated.

The Constitution had granted the federal government authority to ensure that American writers and inventors were given exclusive rights to their work, and in 1790 Congress enacted legislation to advance domestic copyright protection afforded to U.S. authors. By the late nineteenth century, American authors had become sufficiently well known throughout the world that their works had significant sales abroad. To ensure that these American authors, as well as their publishers, received the royalties due them from sales outside the United States, Congress entered into the International Copyright Act of 1891. Although this secured American authors and publishers royalties from sales in other signatory countries, it also meant the end of U.S. publishers pirating works of foreign authors.

Edmund V. Gillon. [Charles Scribner's Sons Building, 597 Fifth Avenue.] ca. 1977. Museum of the City of New York. 2013.3.2.2001

Until the mid-nineteenth century, most American authors published at their own expense. For example, Walt Whitman self-published and sold his 1855 edition of Leaves of Grass. However, a printer and bookseller might share costs with an author whose work appeared to have strong sales potential. When American publishers began to spend their own funds to print books, they generally paid authors no royalties until they had recovered the initial expense incurred in printing the book. George Palmer Putnam instituted the modern royalty system in 1846, offering authors 10 percent of a book’s sale price for each copy sold.

The paperback was another innovation of the nineteenth-century book publishing industry. Although paperbound pamphlets and tracts had existed since the colonial era, the sales of paperbound novels exploded in the mid-1800s. In 1860, Erastus Beadle, a printer in Ostega County, New York, published A Dime Song Book, a paperbound collection of lyrics to popular songs. Sales of this book were so strong that in the same year Beadle published another 10-cent paperbound book, Maleska: The Indian Wife of the White Hunter by Anne S. W. Stephens. The book was an adventure novel, which became staples of the genre known as “dime novels.” Whether a dime novel was a detective story, an adventure story, or an historical tale, it always featured an all-American hero who saved the day, triumphed over evil and vice, and was handsomely rewarded. Gilbert Patten created the hero figure Frank Merriwell, whose exploits helped sell 125 million copies of Patten’s books. Although their literary merits were questioned, dime novels were a reading staple until the early 1910s, when pulp magazines and comic books surpassed them in popularity.

While readers of dime novels enjoyed wholesome tales, other readers of the mid-1800s indulged their tastes for the more salacious literature that had become a specialty of New York’s publishers. Anthony Comstock, an anti-obscenity crusader and secretary of the New York Society for Suppression of Vice, led a successful campaign in 1870 that forced New York publishing houses to stop printing such racy fiction. Comstock, a special officer of the U.S. Postal Service, also succeeded in persuading Congress to pass the so-called Comstock laws that prohibited the postal service from carrying material deemed obscene. Comstock carried on his anti-obscenity campaign until his death in 1915, and he was so effective that New York publishers practiced self-censorship well into the twentieth century. Although the movement led by Comstock had as its goal the suppression of obscene publications, the entire literary and publishing community felt the effects of this censorship. George Bernard Shaw coined the term “Comstockery” for this form of censorship, and H. L. Mencken railed against Comstock and his movement for making it “positively dangerous to print certain ancient and essentially decent English words.”

Hope everyone has a Happy 4th of July! Happy Writing!