They do not and did not understand or like machines more complicated than a forge-bellows, a water mill, or a handloom, though they were skilful with tools. This is on the very first page of the Prologue to The Lord of the Rings written many years after his childhood days in the little hamlet of Sarehole on the edge of Birmingham. The origins of J. Tolkien lived for much of his early life in and around the British industrial city of Birmingham, but he was born in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State in southern Africa in Both his parents, Arthur and Mabel, had moved there from the Birmingham area and married in Cape Town in Bloemfontein, South Africa.
A hobbit house in New Zealand. In a rare interview in , reproduced in The Guardian newspaper in , Tolkien described how important the little hamlet of Sarehole on the rural edge of Birmingham had been in the development of his fictional vision: It was a kind of lost paradise… There was an old mill that really did grind corn with two millers, a great big pond with swans on it, a sandpit, a wonderful dell with flowers, a few old-fashioned village houses and, further away, a stream with another mill… Further on in the article he re-emphasizes the importance of his childhood memories of the area: I could draw you a map of every inch of it.
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