A Toast to the Professor
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.
“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien,
Every year on January 3rd, Tolkien fans from around the world are invited to raise a glass and toast the birthday of this beloved author at 21:00 (9 pm) local time.
J.R.R. Tolkien lost his mother at an early age. Friendships were to be a steadying influence throughout his life. He was a member of the famous Inklings, a literary society that included among the notables, C.S. Lewis and his elder brother Warren Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams and Tolkien’s son, Christopher. There was an earlier society, The T.C.B.S. (Tea Club, Barrovian Society) named after their meeting place at the Barrow Stores. The T.C.B.S. members continued to correspond closely, exchanging and critiquing each other’s literary work until 1916. WWI took a toll on this band of brothers. Two of J.R.R. Tolkien’s friends, Robert Gilson and Geoffrey Smith, were not destined to outlive the war. In Geoffrey Smith’s last letter to J.R.R. Tolkien, the message was prophetic: “Yes, publish… You I am sure are chosen, like Saul among the Children of Israel. Make haste, before you come out to this orgy of death cruelty… May God bless you, John Ronald, and may you say the things I have tried to say long after I am not here to say them, if such is my lot.”
In his writings, J.R.R. Tolkien celebrated and acknowledged the great deeds that were done in the name of friendship. He made good on his promise to his much-loved friend, Geoffrey Smith.