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Timeline
The Books
Cast: Lord of the Rings
Cast: The Hobbit

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Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel (J. R. R.) Tolkien was born on 3 January 1892 in Bloemfontein, in the Orange Free State (then an independent Boer republic, in what is now South Africa). His family had emigrated to London from Germany in the mid–18th century, as refugees from the invasion of Saxony by Frederick the Great of Prussia, during the Seven Years' War. His father managed the Bloemfontein branch of a British bank, but died in South Africa in 1896, while the young Tolkien was on an extended holiday in England with his mother and younger brother. They never returned to South Africa, but settled in Birmingham. Tolkien served in France in the First World War (after finishing his degree at Oxford). After the war his first job was at the Oxford English Dictionary; he then took up a post as Reader in English Literature at Leeds University, and moved to Pembroke College, Oxford, in 1925. He moved to Merton College in 1945, retired in 1959 and died in Bournemouth, Dorset, on 2 September 1973, aged 81.

Tolkien was a close friend of C. S. Lewis, and they were the two most prominent members of an informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings. Tolkien is said to have been a major influence in Lewis's conversion from atheism to Christianity – although as a devout Catholic he is also said to have been disappointed that Lewis chose to join the Church of England. Lewis's Narnia books were not published until the 1950s, but they soon outsold Tolkien's Middle–Earth tales.

Timeline

Title Book Film
The Hobbit 1937  
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey   2012
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug   2013
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies   2014
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring29 July 1954 2001
The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 11 November 1954 2002
The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King 20 October 1955 2003

Other published works include:

Title Written Published
On Fairy-Stories (essay)   1947
Farmer Giles of Ham 1937 1949
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil   1962
Tree and Leaf 1945-7 1964
Smith of Wootton Major   1967
The Father Christmas Letters 1920-42 1976
The Silmarillion   1977
Unfinished Tales (of Númenor and Middle–Earth)   1980
Mr. Bliss   1982
The History of Middle–Earth (12 volumes)   1983–96
Roverandom 1925 1998
The Children of Húrin 1910s 2007
The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún   2009
The Fall of Arthur (narrative poem) 1930s 2013
Beowulf: a Translation and Commentary 1920–6 2014

Everything up to and including The Father Christmas Letters was written for children, as were Mr. Bliss and Roverandom. The posthumously published works (from The Father Christmas Letters onwards) were edited by Tolkien's son Christopher.

The Books

The facts in this section all come from the books, and can be asked without reference to the films – although most if not all of them are true in the films as well.

Continent in which they are set Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer

The Hobbit

Subtitle of The Hobbit Click to show or hide the answer

Lord of the Rings

Birthday on which Bilbo disappeared, at the beginning of the first book Click to show or hide the answer
The region where the hobbits lived Click to show or hide the answer
The four quarters of the Shire are known as Click to show or hide the answer
The river that separates the Shire from Buckland and the Old Forest – forming, for the hobbits, the boundary between the known and the unknown Click to show or hide the answer
Frodo's servant and companion – formerly a gardener and associate of Bilbo Click to show or hide the answer
Peregrine Took, one of the Hobbits in the Fellowship, is better known as Click to show or hide the answer
Frodo’s sword (or knife), given to him by Bilbo Click to show or hide the answer
Originally known as "the Grey", but returns after death as "the White"; also known as Mithrandir ("the Grey Pilgrim") Click to show or hide the answer
Gandalf’s sword Click to show or hide the answer
Gandalf’s horse Click to show or hide the answer
Inn where the Fellowship meets Strider Click to show or hide the answer
Landlord of the Prancing Pony Click to show or hide the answer
Strider turns out to be an alias for: a confidant of Gandalf and an integral part of the quest to destroy the One Ring and defeat the Dark Lord Sauron; leads the Fellowship following the loss of Gandalf in the Mines of Moria Click to show or hide the answer
Mysterious character who helps the Fellowship on their journey through the Shire: described as "master of wood, water and hill"; first appears when Merry and Pippin are trapped by Old Man Willow Click to show or hide the answer
Leader of the Ents Click to show or hide the answer
Giant spider, into whose lair Gollum leads Frodo, in the hope of recovering the Ring when she attacks Frodo – defeated by Sam Gamgee with Frodo's elvish light and sword Click to show or hide the answer
Deep valley where the Elves still lived in peace – location of the hall of Elrond Halfelven Click to show or hide the answer
a.k.a. Black (or Dark) Riders, Ring–wraiths, or The Nine Click to show or hide the answer
The main antagonist: chief lieutenant of Morgoth, the first Dark Lord; forged the One Ring Click to show or hide the answer
"Black Land" or "Land of Shadow" ruled by Sauron Click to show or hide the answer
Leader of the Istari (wizards sent to Middle–Earth in human form by the angelic Valar to challenge Sauron); eventually desires Sauron's power for himself and turns renegade Click to show or hide the answer
Volcano in Mordor where Frodo must destroy the One Ring – a.k.a. Orodruin Click to show or hide the answer
Hobbits' name for the mumak – a beast of burden, used in battle by the people of Hadar (the Middle–earth equivalent of an elephant) Click to show or hide the answer

Cast: The Lord of the Rings

These are not necessarily the major characters in the films; they're just the ones I think are most likely to come up in quizzes. In many cases this is because they are major characters, but in others it's because they're played by a well–known actor.

The Fellowship of the Ring

Hobbits:

Frodo Baggins Click to show or hide the answer
Merry (Meriadoc Brandybuck) Click to show or hide the answer
Samwise Gamgee Click to show or hide the answer
Pippin (Peregrine Took) Click to show or hide the answer

Others:

Aragorn – a.k.a. Strider – a man Click to show or hide the answer
Boromir – a man Click to show or hide the answer
Gandalf – Maia (wizard) Click to show or hide the answer
Gimli – a dwarf Click to show or hide the answer
Legolas – an elf Click to show or hide the answer

Others

Bilbo Baggins (in Fellowship of the Ring and Return of the King) Click to show or hide the answer
Arwen – daughter of Elrond (an elf) Click to show or hide the answer
Lord Elrond Click to show or hide the answer
Lady Galadriel Click to show or hide the answer
King Théoden – King of Rohan Click to show or hide the answer
Voice of Treebeard – also Glóin, father of Gimli (see above) Click to show or hide the answer
Sméagol / Gollum Click to show or hide the answer
Voice of Sauron, and of the One Ring (also of the Mouth of Sauron) Click to show or hide the answer
Saruman Click to show or hide the answer

Cast: The Hobbit

Bilbo Baggins Click to show or hide the answer
Thorin Oakenshield – leader of the Company of Dwarves, who aim to reclaim the Lonely Mountain from the dragon Smaug Click to show or hide the answer
Bofur – one of the 13 dwarves of Thorin's company Click to show or hide the answer
Radagast the Brown – one of the Istari (wizards) Click to show or hide the answer
Sauron – a.k.a. The Necromancer; also the voice of Smaug Click to show or hide the answer
Dáin II Ironfoot – King of Erebor – a dwarf Click to show or hide the answer
The Great Goblin Click to show or hide the answer

The following actors reprise their roles from the Lord of the Rings trilogy:

Gandalf the Grey Click to show or hide the answer
Saruman the White Click to show or hide the answer
Lord Elrond Click to show or hide the answer
Lady Galadriel Click to show or hide the answer
Legolas Click to show or hide the answer
Gollum Click to show or hide the answer
Frodo Baggins, in the Prologue and Epilogue Click to show or hide the answer
Bilbo Baggins, in the Prologue and Epilogue Click to show or hide the answer

© Haydn Thompson 2017