Exploring the Rich History of Oxford and the Legacy of J.R.R. Tolkien

J.R.R Tolkien grave at oxford

JRR Tolkien grave in oxford

When visiting the historic city of Oxford, there are countless attractions to explore, from its renowned university to its picturesque architecture. One notable highlight for fans of literature and fantasy is the grave of J R R Tolkien, the celebrated author of “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit.” Located in Wolvercote Cemetery, Tolkien’s grave offers a unique opportunity to pay homage to the creative genius behind these beloved works. In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the life and legacy of J.R.R. Tolkien while also providing insights into the wonders of Oxford itself.

The Life and Works of J.R.R. Tolkien

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, known to the world as J R R Tolkien, was born on January 3, 1892, in Bloemfontein, South Africa. However, it was his time in Oxford that would shape his career and literary creations. Tolkien attended Exeter College in Oxford, where he studied a range of subjects, including the Classics, Old English, Germanic languages, Welsh, and Finnish. His passion for languages and mythology began to take shape during this period, laying the foundation for his future masterpieces.

Tolkien's War Experiences and Creative Inspiration

JRR TOLKIEN oxford things to do ww1

When World War I erupted, Tolkien delayed his enlistment until he completed his degree in 1915. While serving as a second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers, he experienced the horrors of the Western Front. After only four months, Tolkien fell ill with trench fever following the Battle of the Somme, which led to his repatriation to England in November 1916. Devastated by the loss of his close friends in the war, Tolkien found solace in the creation of stories that would later become “The Silmarillion.” His grave in Wolvercote Cemetery stands as a testament to his enduring impact on the world of literature and fantasy.

Tolkien's Time in Oxford and Literary Success

around the Hull area. It was during these walks that Edith’s dance in a grove of hemlocks inspired Tolkien’s tale of Beren and Lúthien, with Edith becoming his muse as Lúthien and himself as Beren. Although it took many years for Tolkien to return to Oxford permanently, it was in this city that he published his first major book, “The Hobbit,” in 1937. The immense success of this work led his publisher to request further writings, leading to a 16-year endeavor to write “The Lord of the Rings,” which achieved cult status by 1968. His grave in Oxford is a testament to his enduring legacy.

The Inklings and Tolkien's Literary Circle

Picture of JRR TOLKIEN oxfordshire

Oxford was not only a place of inspiration for Tolkien but also a hub for intellectual and creative exchange. He was one of the founders of The Inklings, a group of writers who met weekly at The Eagle and Child, a local Oxford pub. The Inklings included notable figures such as C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams, and others. These gatherings fostered lively discussions and provided invaluable support for Tolkien’s writing journey in Oxford.

Exploring Wolvercote Cemetery

Located in Northern Oxford, Wolvercote Cemetery is the final resting place of J R R Tolkien and his wife, Edith Mary Tolkien. This verdant cemetery, adorned with an abundance of flowers and offerings from devoted fans, provides a serene and peaceful setting for their graves. Tolkien and his wife, often referred to as Tolkien’s wife or J R R Tolkien’s wife, are buried together in the Catholic section of the cemetery, and their gravestone bears the inscriptions of Beren and Lúthien, immortalizing their love and connection to Tolkien’s fictional world.

Paying Respects at Tolkien's Grave

JRR TOLKIEN grave site in oxford

When visiting Tolkien’s grave, it is important to approach with respect and sensitivity. Wolvercote Cemetery, where JRR Tolkien is buried, is still an active burial site, so it is crucial to be mindful of mourners who may be present. The grave itself is typically adorned with flowers and tokens left by fans, symbolizing the enduring impact of Tolkien’s works. As you stand before his final resting place in Oxford, you may feel a profound connection to the author and the characters he brought to life.

Discovering the Charms of Oxford

While exploring Tolkien’s grave is a must for fans, Oxford offers a wealth of other attractions that shouldn’t be missed. Let’s delve into some of the highlights of this historic city and the myriad experiences it has to offer.

Oxford University: A Treasure Trove of Knowledge

No visit to Oxford is complete without exploring its prestigious university. Founded in the 12th century, the university is steeped in tradition and boasts magnificent architecture. Take a guided tour to discover the rich history and fascinating stories behind the colleges, libraries, and lecture halls that have nurtured countless minds throughout the centuries. Some notable colleges to explore include Christ Church, Magdalen College, and St. John’s College. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the Bodleian Libraries, including the Old Bodleian Library.


As you explore the wonders of Oxford, don’t miss the opportunity to pay homage to the remarkable legacy of J.R.R. Tolkien. His grave in Wolvercote Cemetery stands as a testament to his enduring impact on the world of literature and fantasy. Take the time to wander through the historic streets of Oxford, soak in the knowledge of its renowned university, and immerse yourself in the captivating charm that inspired Tolkien and countless other great minds throughout the centuries. Remember to visit Tolkien’s grave in Oxford, where JRR Tolkien is buried, to truly appreciate his contribution to literature.


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