JRR Tolkien was not a professional author nor, for much of his life, even a much-published one. He had a certain success with The Hobbit in 1937, when he was 45 – enough for his publisher, Stanley Unwin, to ask for a sequel. But though Tolkien dutifully began to write one almost immediately, it was 17 years before the first volume of The Lord of the Rings was published, by which time Tolkien had almost reached retirement. [More]