A very Happy Birthday to John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, who was born on 3 January 1892. May his books continue to experience many happy returns!

On a related note, in a 1965 letter to Rayner Unwin, Tolkien asked, “Do you think you could mark the New Year by dropping the Professor? I belong to a generation which did not use Christian names outside the family, but like the dwarves kept them private, and for even their intimates used surnames (or perversions of them), or nicknames, or (occasionally) Christian names that did not belong to them. Even C. S. Lewis never called me by a Christian name (or I him). So I will be content with a surname. I wish I could be rid of the ‘professor’ altogether, at any rate when not writing technical matter. It gives a false impression of ‘learning’, especially in ‘folklore’ and all that. It also gives a probably truer impression of pedantry; but it is a pity to have my pedantry advertised and underlined, so that people sniff it even when it is not there” (letter 281).

So, if you wondered why I did not say, “Happy Birthday, Professor!”, now you know.

As a way of celebrating J.R.R. Tolkien’s legacy, could you write in the comment section below what you most appreciate about Tolkien and/or his book?