A recent article in The New York Times commemorating the Battle of the Somme during the Great War, World War I, argues how J. R. R. Tolkien’s terrifying experiences in the trenches influenced his mythscape of Hobbiton, Mordor, and Middle Earth.
The author of “How J.R.R. Tolkien Found Mordor on the Western Front” is Joseph Loconte, an associate professor of history at the King’s College in New York, who writes, “The first day of the battle, July 1, , produced a frenzy of bloodletting. Unaware that its artillery had failed to obliterate the German dugouts, the British Army rushed to slaughter.
Before nightfall, 19,240 British soldiers — Prime Minister David Lloyd George called them “the choicest and best of our young manhood” — lay dead. That day, 100 years ago, remains the most lethal in Britain’s military history.
Though the debt is largely overlooked, Tolkien’s supreme literary achievement, “The Lord of the Rings,” owes a great deal to his experience at the Somme.”