The History of Middle-earth traces the evolution of J.R.R. Tolkien's literary world, stories, and characters from their earliest written forms to the final revisions Tolkien penned shortly before his death in 1973. Published posthumously by Tolkien's son Christopher, the extensively detailed 12-volume work allows readers to follow the development of the texts that eventually became Tolkien's immensely popular The Hobbit, The Lord of The Rings, The Silmarillion, and Unfinished Tales. This work provides a thorough study of Tolkien's life and influences through an analysis of The History of Middle-earth. The work begins with a brief biography and an analysis of the major influences in Tolkien's life. Following chapters deal with elements common to Tolkien's popular works, including the cosmogony, theogony, cosmology, metaphysics, and eschatology of Middle-earth. The study also reviews some of the myths with which Tolkien was most familiar--Greek, Roman, Finnish, and Norse--and reveals the often overlapping relationship between mythology, biblical stories, and Tolkien's popular works.
Elizabeth A. Whittingham teaches in the English department at SUNY College at Brockport in Brockport, New York.