Book Reviews

J R R Tolkein’s Hobbit Home For Sale

Image of old fashioned typewriter surrounded by books, text says authors at home and JRR Tolkein

If you’re a Tolkein fan and have £4.5M to spare, you can now buy a piece of literary history.

The house in which Tolkein lived and in which he is believed to have written The Hobbit and worked on The Lord of the Rings is up for sale.

It’s a six bedroom brick house built in 1924 in a quiet suburb of Oxford. The estate agents describe it as “largely unaltered” which means you’d be moving into a property substantially as it was when it was occupied by J. J R. Tolkein and his family.

This house was quite a step up from their previous home in a four bedroom terraced house in Warwickshire. Incidentally that house, built in 1906, went on sale for £285,000 in June 2017.

J R R Tolkein’s home: What’s On Offer

A rather pleasant house it would seem. it’s quite a spacious house of almost 4,000 sq feet in one of the most desirable suburbs of Oxford. Number 20 Northmoor Road comes with six bedrooms, two reception rooms, a kitchen/breakfast room and a walk-in pantry.

The agents describe the rooms as “Well-proprtioned and filled with natural light, enhanced by the high ceilings and large windows.”

But it’s the association with Tolkein that really makes the house special. The author lived next door at number 20 between 1926 and 1930. But in 1930 he and his wife Edith and at least three of their four children moved into the larger property at number 22.

The first two books in Lord Of The Rings are believed to have been written in this house. Tolkein apparently used the drawing room as his study, typing his manuscripts using only two fingers on an old manual typewriter.

I think this is how the drawing room looks today.

The house doesn’t have any particular architectural features but was nevertheless awarded Grade II listed status in 2004. simply on the basis of the association with Tolkein. A blue plaque on an outside wall commemorates the link.

In 1945, the family left Northmoor Road, two years before Tolkein left Pembroke College where he had been a Fellow and Professor of Anglo-Saxon. In 1945 he moved to Merton College, Oxford, becoming the Merton Professor of English Language and Literature.

The identity of the new owner of 20 Northmoor Road isn’t known but in 2004 it changed hands for more than £1.5m. Was the new owner just lucky and got in before the Grade 2 classification was announced which would have put the price up?

Nomadic Existence

Where did the Tolkein’s go after Northmoor? They moved around the Oxford area for a number of years, initially in the city centre near to the colleges. Perhaps this coincided with Tolkein’s new post as Professor of English Language and Literature at Merton College. Perhaps the new residences were prompted by a desire to be nearer to the college or maybe the Tolkeins were looking for a smaller house perhaps because the children had grown up and moved away?

In 1949 they were living at 3 Manor Road. in central Oxford but in about May 1950 they moved 99 Holywell Street, a house built in the early seventeenth century. Both of these were close to the colleges.

99 Holywell Street., Oxford J R R Tolkein lived here in the 1950s

They were on he move again in 1953, this time to a house outside the city in the suburb of Headington. While living at number 76 Sandfield Road, Headington, Tolkein published three books in the Lord of the Ring cycle :The Fellowship of the Ring (1954); The Two Towers (1954) and The Return of the King (1955).

Sandfield Road, occupied by J R R Tolkein from 1953-1968. Tolkien worked in the garage on the left of this photograph,

The publication of these books brought literary fame and increased public interest in Tolkien. The attention of fans became so intense that the couple removed their phone number from the public directory. It also drove them out of Oxford – Tolkein and his wife moved to Bournemouth in search of a quieter life in 1968.

Tolkein’s final residence was back in Oxford. Edith his wife died in 1971 and Tolkein was offered accommodation in Merton College, Oxford, close to the High Street. It was here he died in September 1973.


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

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