The final resting place of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892–1973) and Edith Mary Tolkien (1889-1971) is covered in an abundance flowers, plants, and offerings from fans in the verdant cemetery of Wolvercote in Northern Oxford. They are buried together in a single grave in the Catholic section of the cemetery.
J.R.R. Tolkien attended Exeter College in Oxford, studying the Classics, Old English, the Germanic languages (especially Gothic), Welsh and Finnish. When World War I began, he delayed enlistment until he obtained his degree in 1915. During this time at Oxford he had begun working on his invented languages, including Quenya, which was heavily influenced by Finnish. He then enlisted as a second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers and was eventually sent to active duty on the Western Front.
After only four months, he became ill with trench fever following the Battle of Somme and was sent back to England in November 1916. All but one of his close friends were killed in action; in honor of his friends as well as a reaction to his war experiences, he began to create many of the major stories that make up The Silmarillion. During recovery from his illness, he spent time with his wife, taking walks in the woods around the Hull area. Edith danced for him in the grove of hemlocks, inspiring the tale of Beren and Lúthien (he came to think of Edith as Lúthien and himself as Beren).
It took many years for him to return to Oxford permanently. There, in 1937, he published his first major book, The Hobbit. Because of its immediate success, his publisher then requested further writings, resulting in a 16-year endeavor to write The Lord of the Rings, published in 1954 and achieving cult status by 1968.
Tolkien was also one of the founders of The Inklings, a group of writers who met weekly at a local Oxford pub, The Eagle and Child, for beer and conversation. Members included C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, Nevill Coghill, W.H. Lewis, Gervase Matthews, John Wain, and other writers.
Know Before You Go
Easy to reach by bus from Oxford City Centre. The cemetery has a small car park and public toilets. There are maps in the cemetery and many signs pointing to the Tolkiens.