Happy 65th Anniversary to Tolkien’s ‘The Return of the King’

In honor of The Return of the King, the climactic end of the revered classic and one of the most iconic trilogies of all time, we’re celebrating this literary milestone with a comprehensive list of little known facts on the novel, the king in question, and Tolkien’s writing and publishing process.

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For sixty-five years, we have enjoyed the complete literary world that is J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. For sixty-five years, Aragorn (Isildur’s heir and the rightful King of Gondor and Arnor) has been returned to his throne. And, in these past sixty-five years, this treasured epic fantasy has been adapted several times. In honor of The Return of the King, the climactic end of the revered classic and one of the most iconic trilogies of all time, we’re celebrating this literary milestone with a comprehensive list of little known facts on the novel, the king in question, and Tolkien’s writing and publishing process.


The King Did Not simply Return to Gondor:


Aragorn (ranger, sixteenth chieftain of the Dúnedain, and member of The Fellowship of the Ring) was crowned King in Gondor as its thirty-fifth king, but he also reigned as the twenty-sixth King of Arnor, and the first High King of the Reunited Kingdom (comprised of both Gondor and Arnor). He was then referred to by his royal name, King Elessar Telcontar.


ArAgoRn Grew Up UNDercover In Rivendell:


When Aragorn’s father, Arathorn, was killed by orcs, his mother sent him to stay in Rivendell under the care of Elrond in order to protect his life and high profile lineage. She worried that, as the descendent of Elendil and heir of Isildur, he would be targeted. He was then named “Estel” and didn’t learn of his ancestry, his real name, or the responsibility that lay on his shoulders until he was twenty years old. At this time, Elrond gave him the shattered pieces of Narsil; the sword that was broken on Sauron’s finger in the War of The Last Alliance.



This upbringing in Rivendell is also how Aragorn met his beloved Arwen. Elrond told Aragorn that he was not to marry his daughter until he was King of both Gondor and Arnor, fulfilling his place in his ancestral line and bringing peace to the lands.

This depth to Aragorn’s course, however, isn’t emphasized in the Peter Jackson’s films or even in the novels themselves. His love for Arwen wasn’t just a side story for his character, but a major motivation for him and the resolution of the quest to destroy the ring entirely. With this knowledge, the significance of the title is that much more meaningful.



Tolkien Never Meant to Write the lord of the rings:


It’s interesting to note that, considering how Aragorn’s arc brings the tale of the One Ring full circle, Tolkien hadn’t meant to continue writing about Bilbo or his descendants after The Hobbit. When The Hobbit was published in September of 1937, it quickly rose in popularity and Tolkien’s publishers, Allen and Unwin, asked him to write a sequel. They undoubtedly had another children’s novel in mind, but instead Tolkien created a trilogy encompassing the War of the Ring and an enormous part of his legendarium. After several years of writing and revisions, the three parts that composed The Lord of the Rings were published between 1954 and 1955.

It’s almost unfathomable that such an inspiring story, something so life-changing to so many, almost never came about. I think I speak for everyone when I say thank goodness for that publisher and their push to continue a good thing.


The Shire was based off of England:


When Tolkien was asked to write a sequel to The Hobbit, he had already been working on The Silmarillion. Building off of his love of England’s rolling glades, geography, topography, languages and Nordic mythology, he began to write the three-part series, The Lord of the Rings, loosely based on the destruction that he believed industrialism was bringing to his adored landscapes.

Tolkien admits in his published collection of letters that Middle-earth is intended to directly mirror Earth’s approximate geography, with most major locations in the story representing a country or continent in the real world, both in terms of placement on the map and recognizable qualities. The Shire, for instance, is Tolkien’s home of England. The idyllic gardens, plentiful taverns and farming lifestyle denote the stereotypical picture of rural England, particularly in the 1930s, and Saruman’s Scouring of the Shire is explicitly intended as a social commentary on the industrial expansion that took place throughout the early-mid 20th century.



Amazon prime is adapting lord of the rings:


Amazon’s adaptation of The Lord of the Rings will not be a remake of the Peter Jackson films (because who could do better?) or the time period that they encompass, but it’s said to be a prequel of sorts to Frodo’s journey. And rumor has it that a “young Aragorn” is involved. When Viggo Mortensen, the actor that played Aragorn in the Peter Jackson films, learned of this news, he offered some advice to the new actor that will reprise his role:

“I would say, not only read the book, you know, very thoroughly, that giant book of ‘Lord of the Rings,’ but you could read some of the Nordic sagas. You’ll get some clues there as to where Tolkien got his information. Like, Sigurd the Dragon Slayer, and the Volsunga saga. Read that.”


Tolkien fans everywhere have been waiting a long time for this new adaptation, as it was first announced in November of 2017. And there’s still a ways left to wait. This Amazon series was originally said to be released in 2021, however it could be pushed back due to paused production as a result of Covid-19.

Regardless of the lingering anticipation, we have a lot to celebrate today, on the publishing anniversary of The Return of the King; a tale that didn’t end at the end of its trilogy, but instead continues on and on, in the classic novels and films and the new adaptations in the years to come.


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