Carpenter chronicles Tolkien's early life with a special sensitivity; after losing both parents, Tolkien and his brother Hilary were taken from their idyllic life in the English countryside to a poverty-ridden existence in dark and sooty Birmingham. There were bright points, however. A social and cheerful lad, Tolkien enjoyed rugby and was proud of his gift for languages. It was also at this time that he met Edith Bratt, who would later become his wife. Academic life--both as a student and professor--is where this biography shines. Friendship with other men played a huge part in Tolkien's life, and Carpenter deftly reveals the importance these relationships--his complex friendship with C.S. Lewis, membership in the Inklings and the T.C.B.S.--had on the development of his writing.
The only criticism one can make about this book is that Carpenter tends to gloss over Tolkien's contributions to comparative philology. True, there is a chapter devoted to Tolkien's academic pursuits, but it tends to skim too lightly over the surface for this reviewer's tastes. Philology is a terribly methodical science, and the author clearly did not want to alienate readers who were primarily interested in Tolkien as a storyteller. Still, it would be nice to understand why Tolkien was held in such high esteem by his fellow academics. As it stands, Tolkien comes off as a slightly eccentric etymologist.
Fans who want to delve even deeper into Tolkien's life should pick up a copy of Carpenter's The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. --P.M. Atterberry
This is a well written and detailed book and a must read for any Tolkien fan.
Perhaps the most prominent trait of Carpenter's work is the insight into the effects of various events in Tolkiens life on his literary and scholarly development.
I first read this one over twenty years ago, enjoyed it then and recently enjoyed it again.
Get to know the author of The Hobbit up close and personal. Humphrey Carpenter did an awesome job chronicling Tolkien's journey.Published 5 months ago by E. Munoz
Absolutely brilliant! Very well written and extremely informative! A sad and amazing ending (appropiate, I thought. Read morePublished 5 months ago by atg
it's informative, but dates itself in one unfortunate way: when dismissing allegations that the Inklings featured homosexuality among its members, he acts as if that would've been... Read morePublished 9 months ago by global_love
This is a great book. Very educational for people who want to know about Tolkien's life from a man who knows his material. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Shae R. Mowry
I found myself sad at the end of this book, for reasons I couldn't quite put my finger on but that left me knowing that this book was well worth the reading. Read morePublished 9 months ago by A. Thomas
They sent me the wrong book it was not the biography. They gave me one of The Lord of the Rings books, The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring.Published 11 months ago by asia
I'm speaking on the basis of the sample on my Kindle Paperwhite. Lines are set justified (straight right edge), but with maybe a 10% error rate. Read morePublished 15 months ago by Simon Esposito
I think the biography is not very well written, which is a pity - Tolkien's life is full of interesting details (especially for LOTR fans, of course) which could have been... Read morePublished 18 months ago by Darja