It is impossible to overestimate the influence of J.R.R. Tolkien. He did much more than just write an interesting story about elves and dwarves. He has had a tremendous influence on the past few generations on a number of levels.
Humphrey Carpenter has written J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography. He starts with Tolkien’s youngest years in South Africa to his academic career in England to the creator of Middle-earth.
This biography gives much background that helps readers to appreciate his writing. While Tolkien didn’t think such biographical information was necessary, connections between his life and his writing are clear.
Carpenter presents the story of extremely gifted but very human man who had his share of weaknesses. He had far from a perfect life.
One of the things that I appreciated is the account of Tolkien’s friendship with C.S. Lewis. It was a close but complicated relationship.
I thoroughly enjoyed this biography and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in Tolkien and his books.