Tolkien's Faith: A Spiritual Biography

Tolkien's Faith: A Spiritual Biography

By Holly Ordway
Product Code: 9781685789916

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Tolkien defined The Lord of the Rings as "a fundamentally religious and Catholic work," adding, "I am a Christian (which can be deduced from my stories)." Despite this, Tolkien argued that his works were not allegories, and Middle-earth is beloved by millions of people who do not share his religious beliefs.

What was the connection between his faith and his fiction? Holly Ordway provides a biographical solution to that question, focusing on Tolkien's spiritual development, a dramatic story that prior portrayals of his life have mostly ignored.  

We learn here that Tolkien's faith was hard won. When his mother converted to Catholicism, his Anglican upbringing was shattered. Soon after, she died, leaving Tolkien in the care of a Catholic priest, who banned him from seeing his Protestant lover, whom he subsequently married. The Great War, in which most of Tolkien's close companions were slain, strengthened his faith, although for a decade he "almost ceased to practice" his religion. Friendship with C.S. Lewis and success with The Hobbit were followed by another war and turbulence in the Church, which put Tolkien's commitments to the test.  

The Lord of the Rings, that epic narrative of persistence against the odds, reflects the trials and achievements of his religious life. Tolkien's faith and Tolkien's literature are inextricably linked, as Ordway demonstrates in her brilliantly researched and lavishly illustrated book. This long-overdue spiritual biography sheds new light on the author's fundamental principles, providing new insight into his works.

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