42 years ago today, 'Lord of the Rings' creator, J.R.R. Tolkein died

Before you go, we thought you'd like these...
Before you go close icon
The Late Christopher Lee Once Met Tolkien at an Oxford Pub

Forty-two years ago today on September 2, 1973, the world lost literary great J.R.R. Tolkien, creator of the famed "Lord of the Rings" and "Hobbit" series.

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892 in South Africa and raised in England. He graduated from Oxford, served in World War I and went on to become a professor at his alma mater.

During his time as a professor, he began working on the mystical novel that became the world-wide phenomenon we know today. When Tolkien was grading papers one day at Oxford, he randomly wrote the phrase, "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit," atop a blank sheet of paper.

J R R Tolkien
The rest is history. Tolkien went on to create his first novel "The Hobbit" published in 1937. Almost twenty years later, the sequel "The Lord of the Rings" followed in three volumes, in 1954 and 1955.

The novels were met with raving reviews, and Tolkien became an instant classic. The professor retired from teaching in 1959, and was graced with more and more literary fame until his death on September 2, 1973 at age 81.

It was another 28 years after Tolkien's death before the first "Hobbit" movie premiered. Today, there have been six installments of "Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit:"

22 PHOTOS
Lord of the Rings in pop culture
See Gallery
42 years ago today, 'Lord of the Rings' creator, J.R.R. Tolkein died
Finnish sand sculptor Pasi Ahokas carves the 'Gollum' character from the movie 'Lord of the Rings' as preparations are under way for a sand sculpture festival in Binz on the Baltic island of Ruegen, northeastern Germany, on March 17, 2015. Carvers from all over the World create sculptures from 16,000 tons of special sand for the festival themed 'TV and Movie'. The festival starts on March 21, 2015. AFP PHOTO / DPA / STEFAN SAUER +++ GERMANY OUT (Photo credit should read STEFAN SAUER/AFP/Getty Images)
SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 25: Cosplayer dressed as Gandalf from 'Lord Of The Rings' at the San Diego Convention Center on Day 2 of Comic-Con International 2014 on July 25, 2014 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31: Lego The Lord of the Rings The Mines of Moria set at the launch of Dream Toys 2012 at St Mary's Church on October 31, 2012 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)
FILE - In this Oct. 26, 2012 file photo, some of the costumes, props and memorabilia created for the "The Lord of the Rings" and "The Hobbit" movies are displayed in a mini-museum at Weta Cave in Wellington, New Zealand. Tourism to New Zealand soared following the release of films in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy and some observers are expecting the country to be a hotspot in 2013 as well thanks to the new movie "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey." (AP Photo/Nick Perry, file)
Fans walk past huge Stone Troll figures from the Lord of the Rings at the Comic-Con preview night held at the San Diego Convention Center on Wednesday July 11, 2012, in San Diego. (Photo by Denis Poroy/Invision/AP)
In this photo taken June 28, 2010, a sculpture of Gollum, the villainous "Lord of the Rings" hobbit, stands in front of a welcome sign, in Hobbiton Town, Matamata, New Zealand. New Zealand may lose the filming of "The Hobbit" movies, with financial backers Warner Brothers making arrangements to shift the production offshore after a stalemate between director Peter Jackson's production company, Wingnut Films, and the union Actors' Equity over pay deals for actors in the New Zealand 660 million dollar (US$500 million) two-film prequel to the highly successful "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, Christine Cornege)** NEW ZEALAND OUT FAIRFAX OUT**
Joy Asfar, of the auction house Bonhams, examines a copy of the 1937 first issue of the first edition of 'The Hobbit' by author J.R.R. Tolkien on display at the auction house in London, Monday, March 17, 2008. The book, a prequel to 'The Lord of the Rings' is to be auctioned in 'Printed Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Photographs' sale on March 18 with an estimated price of 20,000 to 30,000 pounds (US$40,152 to 60,229 or 25,468 to 38,203 euro). (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Joy Asfar, of the auction house Bonhams, examines a copy of the 1937 first issue of the first edition of 'The Hobbit' by author J.R.R. Tolkien on display at the auction house in London, Monday, March 17, 2008. The book, a prequel to 'The Lord of the Rings' is to be auctioned in 'Printed Books, Maps, Manuscripts and Photographs' sale on March 18 with an estimated price of 20,000 to 30,000 pounds (US$40,152 to 60,229 or 25,468 to 38,203 euro). (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
** FILE ** James Loye, right, and Malcolm Storry perform in a scene from the theatre show "Lord of the Rings" at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, London, in this June 18, 2007, file photo. Producers announced Friday, March 14, 2008, that the show based on J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy saga will close July 19 after 492 performances at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. (AP Photo/Sang Tan, file)
FILE - In this Jan. 30, 2007 file photo, a visitor looks at original studies of "Gollum" at the exhibition "The Lord of the Rings" at the Movie Park of Potsdam-Babelsberg, Germany, during a press preview tour. The heirs of late author J.R.R. Tolkien are suing the producers of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” movie trilogies over alleged exploitative merchandizing. The lawsuit, filed Monday, Nov. 19, 2012 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, comes a week before the premiere of the “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” in Wellington. The opening film in the trilogy hits theaters worldwide next month. (AP Photo/Sven Kaestner, File)
A display of a suit of armor is one of the hundreds of items on display in the "The Lord of the Rings" exhibition at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2005. This is the last of three U.S. stops for the exhibition, on loan from the Te Papa Tongarewa museum in Wellington, New Zealand. The Indiana State Museum is the only U.S. venue that will host the show in its entirety, dedicating 12,000 square feet to the art and artifacts featured in director Peter Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" film trilogy. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Janice Bennett of Pendleton, Ind., dressed as Gandalf, makes notes on the design of the costume worn by the character Saruman at the "The Lord of the Rings" exhibition at the Indiana State Museum in Indianapolis, Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2005. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
** ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND OF JUNE 25-26 ** Product developer Chris Fruhauf holds a replica of the ``Sting'' used by the character Frodo Baggins in the "Lord of the Rings" movies, at Master Replicas in Walnut Creek, Calif., Wednesday, June 15, 2005. The company is dedicated to movie buffs demanding props so lifelike they appear to be lifted from a movie set. The company now sells tens of millions of dollars worth of prop reproductions and boasts distribution deals for "Star Wars" lightsabers with Target,BestBuy and Costco, among others. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
A giant figure of the creature Fellbeast from the movie "Lord of the Rings: the Return of the King" looks down from the roof of the Embassy Theater in Wellington, New Zealand, Friday, Nov. 28, 2003, as part of the buildup for the world premiere of the movie in Wellington on Dec. 1. (AP Photo/Ross Setford)
The screening of 'The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers' with Howard Shore's score performed live at Radio City Music Hall on Friday night, October 8, 2010.Actors Sean Astin (left) and Elijah Wood are on the screen.Ludwig Wicki conducted the 21st Century Orchestra, the Dessoff Symphonic Choir and the Brooklyn Youth Chorus.(Photo by Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images)
Visitors try out the 'Lord of the Rings Aragorn's Quest' at the 2010 E3 Expo in Los Angeles, on June 16, 2010. Typically a stage for new blockbuster titles, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) this year will also be an arena where Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo duel with motion-sensing controls for rival PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and Wii consoles. AFP PHOTO / VALERIE MACON (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)
ICEMAN---01/01/02----Frodo Baggins is a cool customer. The annual ice sculpture display at Nathan Phillips Square featured the Lord of the Rings theme in Toronto, January 1, 2001. (Photo by Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Burger King selling action figures that light up and talk, in comjunction with promotions for Lord Of The Rings movie. (Photo by Mike Slaughter/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Ice_kf_122702_Photo076252 FIRE AND ICE. Julian Bayley 'polishes' an ice sculpture at Nathan Philips Square. The theme for all the ice sculptures this year is The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers to coincide with the sponsors' (Alliance Motion Picture distribution) current film release. Polishing the sculpture is accomplished by using a large blow torch to melt the outside of each sculture to give it the translucent effect. A team of eight ice artists took three days to carve the main exhibit from fifty blocks of ice. It had to be cut into forty pieces and shipped to Nathan Philip Square for reassembly. The Designs in Ice competition is athree day ice carving exhibition and competition running Dec. 27-29. Over 20,000 kg of ice will be transformed over the next three days. The public is invited to vote for the People's Choice award. (Photo by Ken Faught/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
CHENGDU, CHINA - DECEMBER 4: (CHINA OUT) A visitor admires a prop used in movie 'The Lord of the Rings' during the 'The Exceptional Exhibition' at the Sichuan Museum on December 4, 2009 in Chengdu of Sichuan Province, China. New Zealand special-effects guru Richard Taylor has organised to bring his five Oscar statues and props used in movies 'King Kong' and 'The Lord of the Rings' to take part in 'The Exceptional Exhibition' at the Sichuan Museum, which kicks off today and runs through January 15. (Photo by China Photos/Getty Images)
LONDON - JUNE 19: (EMBARGOED FOR PUBLICATION IN UK TABLOID NEWSPAPERS UNTIL 48 HOURS AFTER CREATE DATE AND TIME) (L-R) Michael Therriault, James Loye and Peter Howe with Laura Michelle Kelly pose backstage at the opening night of 'Lord Of The Rings', at the Theatre Royal on June 19, 2007 in London, England. (Photo by Dave M. Benett/Getty Images)
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE
SHOW CAPTION +
HIDE CAPTION

More from AOL.com:
Today in History: Wreck of the Titanic found
Today in History: Princess Diana killed in car crash
Today in History: Cleopatra commits suicide
Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.

From Our Partners