Here I am at the blue plaque at the entrance to the Hotel Miramar in Bournemouth which looks out onto the ocean. John Ronald Reuel Tolkien loved this place and stayed here countless times for over twenty years.
Ronald (as he preferred to be called) wrote many novels but the famous ones are The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings. He was also a Professor of English at Oxford University. Perhaps being forced to the read The Hobbit at school makes me now resent these books. Iíd rather leap naked over electric fences than watch the films of the books. The Hobbit has sold about 100 million copies and The Lord Of The Rings about 150 million. Blimey!
Ronald became the "father" of modern fantasy literature after The Lord Of The Rings was published (which took 14 years to write) and Forbes calculated him to be the 5th top-earning "dead celebrity" in 2009.
He died on the south coast, too. Slightly inland in a leafy well-manicured leaf area of mostly detached houses is a home called Pinewood. It was here that Ronald collapsed to die shortly after. Ironically he was staying with this doctor and friend Denis and his wife. It was the latterís birthday. Ronald could not eat and only managed a glass of champagne. Later that night he experienced agonizing abdominal pain, haemorrhaging from a gastric ulcer. He was rushed to a private hospital to be operated on but was so weakened by a chest infection that he died three days later. Two of his children were abroad; the other two got to his bedside before he died aged 81.