Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Samuel Taylor Coleridge was an English poet, literary critic and theologian who, with his friend William Wordsworth, was a founder of the Romantic Movement in England and a member of the Lake Poets. He wrote the poems The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan, as well as the major prose work Biographia Literaria, his critical work on William Shakespeare, was influential, he helped introduce German idealist philosophy to English-speaking culture. Coleridge coined many familiar phrases, including suspension of disbelief, he had a major influence on American transcendentalism. Throughout his adult life Coleridge had crippling bouts of depression, he was physically unhealthy, which may have stemmed from a bout of rheumatic fever and other childhood illnesses. He was treated for these conditions with laudanum. Coleridge was born on 21 October 1772 in the town of Ottery St Mary in England. Samuel's father was the Reverend John Coleridge, the well-respected vicar of St Mary's Church, Ottery St Mary and was headmaster of the King's School, a free grammar school established by King Henry VIII in the town.
He had been master of Hugh Squier's School in South Molton and lecturer of nearby Molland. John Coleridge had three children by his first wife. Samuel was the youngest of ten by the Reverend Mr. Coleridge's second wife, Anne Bowden the daughter of John Bowden, Mayor of South Molton, Devon, in 1726. Coleridge suggests that he "took no pleasure in boyish sports" but instead read "incessantly" and played by himself. After John Coleridge died in 1781, 8-year-old Samuel was sent to Christ's Hospital, a charity school, founded in the 16th century in Greyfriars, where he remained throughout his childhood and writing poetry. At that school Coleridge became friends with Charles Lamb, a schoolmate, studied the works of Virgil and William Lisle Bowles. In one of a series of autobiographical letters written to Thomas Poole, Coleridge wrote: "At six years old I remember to have read Belisarius, Robinson Crusoe, Philip Quarll – and I found the Arabian Nights' Entertainments – one tale of which made so deep an impression on me that I was haunted by spectres whenever I was in the dark – and I distinctly remember the anxious and fearful eagerness with which I used to watch the window in which the books lay – and whenever the sun lay upon them, I would seize it, carry it by the wall, bask, read."
However, Coleridge seems to have appreciated his teacher, as he wrote in recollections of his school days in Biographia Literaria: I enjoyed the inestimable advantage of a sensible, though at the same time, a severe master At the same time that we were studying the Greek Tragic Poets, he made us read Shakespeare and Milton as lessons: and they were the lessons too, which required most time and trouble to bring up, so as to escape his censure. I learnt from him, that Poetry that of the loftiest, that of the wildest odes, had a logic of its own, as severe as that of science. In our own English compositions he showed no mercy to phrase, metaphor, or image, unsupported by a sound sense, or where the same sense might have been conveyed with equal force and dignity in plainer words... In fancy I can hear him now, exclaiming Harp? Harp? Lyre? Pen and ink, you mean! Muse, Muse? Your Nurse's daughter, you mean! Pierian spring? Oh aye! the cloister-pump, I suppose! Be this as it may, there was one custom of our master's, which I cannot pass over in silence, because I think it... worthy of imitation.
He would permit our theme exercises... to accumulate, till each lad had four or five to be looked over. Placing the whole number abreast on his desk, he would ask the writer, why this or that sentence might not have found as appropriate a place under this or that other thesis: and if no satisfying answer could be returned, two faults of the same kind were found in one exercise, the irrevocable verdict followed, the exercise was torn up, another on the same subject to be produced, in addition to the tasks of the day, he wrote of his loneliness at school in the poem Frost at Midnight: "With unclosed lids had I dreamt/Of my sweet birthplace." From 1791 until 1794, Coleridge attended Cambridge. In 1792, he won the Browne Gold Medal for an ode. In December 1793, he left the college and enlisted in the 15th Light Dragoons using the false name "Silas Tomkyn Comberbache" because of debt or because the girl that he loved, Mary Evans, had rejected him, his brothers arranged for his discharge a few months under the reason of "insanity" and he was readmitted to Jesus College, though he would never receive a degree from the university.
At Jesus College, Coleridge was introduced to political and theological ideas considered radical, including those of the poet Robert Southey. Coleridge joined Southey in a plan, soon abandoned, to found a utopian commune-like society, called Pantisocracy, in the wilderness of Pennsylvania. In 1795, the two friends married sisters Sara and Edith Fricker, in St Mary Redcliffe, but Coleridge's marriage with Sara proved unhappy, he grew to detest his wi
Publius Ovidius Naso, known as Ovid in the English-speaking world, was a Roman poet who lived during the reign of Augustus. He was a contemporary of the older Virgil and Horace, with whom he is ranked as one of the three canonical poets of Latin literature; the Imperial scholar Quintilian considered him the last of the Latin love elegists. He enjoyed enormous popularity, but, in one of the mysteries of literary history, was sent by Augustus into exile in a remote province on the Black Sea, where he remained until his death. Ovid himself attributes his exile to carmen et error, "a poem and a mistake", but his discretion in discussing the causes has resulted in much speculation among scholars; the first major Roman poet to begin his career during the reign of Augustus, Ovid is today best known for the Metamorphoses, a 15-book continuous mythological narrative written in the meter of epic, for works in elegiac couplets such as Ars Amatoria and Fasti. His poetry was much imitated during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, influenced Western art and literature.
The Metamorphoses remains one of the most important sources of classical mythology. Ovid talks more about his own life than most other Roman poets. Information about his biography is drawn from his poetry Tristia 4.10, which gives a long autobiographical account of his life. Other sources include Seneca the Quintilian. Ovid was born in Sulmo, in an Apennine valley east of Rome, to an important equestrian family, on 20 March, 43 BC; that was a significant year in Roman politics. He was educated in rhetoric in Rome under the teachers Arellius Fuscus and Porcius Latro with his brother who excelled at oratory, his father wanted him to study rhetoric toward the practice of law. According to Seneca the Elder, Ovid tended to not the argumentative pole of rhetoric. After the death of his brother at 20 years of age, Ovid renounced law and began travelling to Athens, Asia Minor, Sicily, he held minor public posts, as one of the tresviri capitales, as a member of the Centumviral court and as one of the decemviri litibus iudicandis, but resigned to pursue poetry around 29–25 BC, a decision his father disapproved of.
Ovid's first recitation has been dated to around 25 BC. He was part of the circle centered on the patron Marcus Valerius Messalla Corvinus, seems to have been a friend of poets in the circle of Maecenas. In Trist. 4.10.41–54, Ovid mentions friendships with Macer, Horace and Bassus. He married three times and divorced twice by the time he was thirty years old, he had one daughter, who bore him grandchildren. His last wife was connected in some way to the influential gens Fabia and would help him during his exile in Tomis; the first 25 years of Ovid's literary career were spent writing poetry in elegiac meter with erotic themes. The chronology of these early works is not secure, his earliest extant work is thought to be the Heroides, letters of mythological heroines to their absent lovers, which may have been published in 19 BC, although the date is uncertain as it depends on a notice in Am. 2.18.19–26 that seems to describe the collection as an early published work. The authenticity of some of these poems has been challenged, but this first edition contained the first 14 poems of the collection.
The first five-book collection of the Amores, a series of erotic poems addressed to a lover, Corinna, is thought to have been published in 16–15 BC. 8–3 BC. Between the publications of the two editions of the Amores can be dated the premiere of his tragedy Medea, admired in antiquity but is no longer extant. Ovid's next poem, the Medicamina Faciei, a fragmentary work on women's beauty treatments, preceded the Ars Amatoria, the Art of Love, a parody of didactic poetry and a three-book manual about seduction and intrigue, dated to AD 2. Ovid may identify this work in his exile poetry as the carmen, or song, one cause of his banishment; the Ars Amatoria was followed by the Remedia Amoris in the same year. This corpus of elegiac, erotic poetry earned Ovid a place among the chief Roman elegists Gallus and Propertius, of whom he saw himself as the fourth member. By AD 8, he had completed his most ambitious work, the Metamorphoses, a hexameter epic poem in 15 books; the work encyclopedically catalogues transformations in Greek and Roman mythology, from the emergence of the cosmos to the apotheosis of Julius Caesar.
The stories follow each other in the telling of human beings transformed to new bodies: trees, animals, constellations etc. At the same time, he worked on the Fasti, a six-book poem in elegiac couplets on the theme of the calendar of Roman festivals and astronomy; the composition of this poem was interrupted by Ovid's exile, it is thought that Ovid abandoned work on the piece in Tomis. It is in this period, if they are indeed by Ovid, that the double letters in the Heroides were composed. In AD 8, Ovid was banished to Tomis, on the Black Sea, by the exclusive intervention of the Emperor Augustus, without any participation of the Senate or of any Roman judge; this event shaped all his following poetry. Ovid wrote that the reason for his exile was carmen et error – "a poem and a mistake", claiming that his crime was
Philitas of Cos
Philitas of Cos, sometimes spelled Philetas, was a scholar and poet during the early Hellenistic period of ancient Greece. A Greek associated with Alexandria, he flourished in the second half of the 4th century BC and was appointed tutor to the heir to the throne of Ptolemaic Egypt, he was frail. Philitas was the first major Greek writer, both a scholar and a poet, his reputation continued for centuries, based on both his pioneering study of words and his verse in elegiac meter. His vocabulary Disorderly Words described the meanings of rare literary words, including those used by Homer, his poetry, notably his elegiac poem Demeter, was respected by ancient poets. However all his work has since been lost. Little is known of Philitas' life. Ancient sources refer to him as a Coan, a native or long-time inhabitant of Cos, one of the Dodecanese islands in the Aegean Sea just off the coast of Asia, his student Theocritus wrote that Philetas' father was Telephos and his mother, assuming the manuscript is supplemented Euctione.
From a comment about Philitas in the Suda, a 10th-century AD historical encyclopedia, it is estimated he was born c. 340 BC, that he might have established a reputation in Cos by c. 309/8 BC. During the Wars of the Diadochi that followed the death of Alexander the Great and divided Alexander's empire, Ptolemy had captured Cos from his rival successor, Antigonus, in 310 BC, it was a favorite retreat for men of letters weary of Alexandria. Philetas was appointed Philadelphus' tutor, which suggests he moved to Alexandria c. 297/6 BC and moved back to Cos in the 290s BC. He may have tutored Arsinoe II, Philadelphus' older sister and eventual wife. Tutors of royal offspring in Ptolemaic Egypt headed the Library of Alexandria, but it is unknown whether Philitas held that position. Philitas taught the poets Hermesianax and Theocritus and the grammarian Zenodotus, after he returned to Cos he seems to have spent at least ten years leading a brotherhood of intellectuals and poets that included Aratus and Theocritus.
Hermesianax wrote of "Philitas, singing of nimble Bittis", Ovid twice calls her "Battis". It is thought that Bittis or Battis was Philitas' mistress, that Hermesianax referred to love poetry. Philitas was thin and frail, may have suffered and died from a wasting disease, he seems to have died in Cos sometime in the 280s BC. His pupil Hermesianax wrote that a statue of him was erected under a plane tree by the people of Cos, depicting him as "frail with all the glosses", his contemporary Posidippus wrote that Philadelphus commissioned a bronze of Philitas in old age from the sculptor Hecataeus, which "included nothing from the physique of heroes. No... he cast the old man full of cares." The 3rd century AD Roman author Aelian skeptically passed along a story that Philitas was so thin that he put lead weights in the soles of his shoes to avoid being blown away by a stiff wind. A 2nd century AD Greek author, Athenaeus of Naucratis, wrote that Philitas studied false arguments and erroneous word-usage so intensely that he wasted away and starved to death, that his epitaph read: St. George Stock analyzed the story as saying Philitas studied the Megarian school of philosophy, which cultivated and studied paradoxes such as the liar paradox: if someone says "I am lying", is what he says true or false?
Stock wrote that Philitas worried so much over the liar paradox that he died of insomnia, translated the epitaph as follows: A more literal translation suggests that the invented epitaph pokes fun at Philitas' focus on using the right words: Philitas wrote a vocabulary explaining the meanings of rare literary words, words from local dialects, technical terms. The vocabulary, called Disorderly Words, has been lost, with only a few fragments quoted by authors. One example, quoted in Athenaeus, is that the word πέλλα meant "wine cup" in the ancient Greek region of Boeotia. Hermeneia, another scholarly work contained Philitas' versions and critical interpretations of Homer and other authors. About thirty fragments of Philitas' poetry are known, along with four definite titles: Demeter, Philitas' most famous work, consisted of elegiac couplets, or couplets in the elegiac meter, its few surviving fragments suggest that it narrated the grain goddess Demeter's hunt for her daughter Persephone. The fragments describe Demeter's arrival on Cos and warm welcome by its royal family of Meropids, or humans twice normal size, thus presenting the founding myth of a local cult of Demeter on Cos. Hermes was an epyllion, or brief mythological narrative, written in hexameter.
It had the structure of a hymn, with a central narrative telling of Odysseus' visit to the island of the king Aeolus, keeper of the winds, of Odysseus' secret affair with the king's daughter Polymele. It is possible that Hermes was a collection of such stories, with the patronage of Hermes himself as the common thread. Playthings had two shorter collections; these poems had the structure of epigrams and their themes may have included erotica. The only surviving poem contains two elegiac couplets and has a puzzle or riddle structure characteristic of
Hermesianax of Colophon was an Ancient Greek elegiac poet of the Hellenistic period, said to be a pupil of Philitas of Cos. His chief work was a poem in three books, dedicated to his mistress Leontion. Of this poem a fragment of about one hundred lines has been preserved by Athenaeus. Plaintive in tone, it enumerates instances and semi-historical, of the irresistible power of love. Hermesianax, whose style is characterized by alternate force and tenderness, was exceedingly popular in his own times, was esteemed in the Augustan period. Many separate editions have been published of the fragment, the text of, in a unsatisfactory condition: by FW Schneidewin, J Bailey, others. Hopkinson, N. A Hellenistic Anthology, Cambridge, ISBN 978-0-521-31425-1. Hutchinson, G. O. Hellenistic Poetry, Oxford, ISBN 978-0-19-814748-0. Lightfoot, J. L. Hellenistic Collection: Philitas, Alexander of Aetolia, Euphorion, Loeb Classical Library, no. 508, Cambridge, MA, ISBN 978-0-674-99636-6. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Chisholm, Hugh, ed..
"Hermesianax". Encyclopædia Britannica. 13. Cambridge University Press. P. 371
William Wordsworth was a major English Romantic poet who, with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, helped to launch the Romantic Age in English literature with their joint publication Lyrical Ballads. Wordsworth's magnum opus is considered to be The Prelude, a semi-autobiographical poem of his early years that he revised and expanded a number of times, it was posthumously titled and published, before which it was known as "the poem to Coleridge". Wordsworth was Britain's poet laureate from 1843 until his death from pleurisy on 23 April 1850; the second of five children born to John Wordsworth and Ann Cookson, William Wordsworth was born on 7 April 1770 in what is now named Wordsworth House in Cockermouth, part of the scenic region in northwestern England known as the Lake District. William's sister, the poet and diarist Dorothy Wordsworth, to whom he was close all his life, was born the following year, the two were baptised together, they had three other siblings: the eldest, who became a lawyer. Wordsworth's father was a legal representative of James Lowther, 1st Earl of Lonsdale and, through his connections, lived in a large mansion in the small town.
He was away from home on business, so the young William and his siblings had little involvement with him and remained distant from him until his death in 1783. However, he did encourage William in his reading, in particular set him to commit large portions of verse to memory, including works by Milton and Spenser. William was allowed to use his father's library. William spent time at his mother's parents' house in Penrith, where he was exposed to the moors, but did not get along with his grandparents or his uncle, who lived there, his hostile interactions with them distressed him to the point of contemplating suicide. Wordsworth was taught to read by his mother and attended, first, a tiny school of low quality in Cockermouth a school in Penrith for the children of upper-class families, where he was taught by Ann Birkett, who insisted on instilling in her students traditions that included pursuing both scholarly and local activities the festivals around Easter, May Day and Shrove Tuesday. Wordsworth was taught the Spectator, but little else.
It was at the school in Penrith that he met the Hutchinsons, including Mary, who became his wife. After the death of Wordsworth's mother, in 1778, his father sent him to Hawkshead Grammar School in Lancashire and sent Dorothy to live with relatives in Yorkshire, she and William did not meet again for another nine years. Wordsworth made his debut as a writer in 1787; that same year he began attending Cambridge. He received his BA degree in 1791, he returned to Hawkshead for the first two summers of his time at Cambridge, spent holidays on walking tours, visiting places famous for the beauty of their landscape. In 1790 he went on a walking tour of Europe, during which he toured the Alps extensively, visited nearby areas of France and Italy. In November 1791, Wordsworth visited Revolutionary France and became enchanted with the Republican movement, he fell in love with a French woman, Annette Vallon, who in 1792 gave birth to their daughter Caroline. Financial problems and Britain's tense relations with France forced him to return to England alone the following year.
The circumstances of his return and his subsequent behaviour raised doubts as to his declared wish to marry Annette, but he supported her and his daughter as best he could in life. The Reign of Terror left Wordsworth disillusioned with the French Revolution and the outbreak of armed hostilities between Britain and France prevented him from seeing Annette and his daughter for some years. With the Peace of Amiens again allowing travel to France, in 1802 Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy visited Annette and Caroline in Calais; the purpose of the visit was to prepare Annette for the fact of his forthcoming marriage to Mary Hutchinson. Afterwards he wrote the sonnet "It is a beauteous evening and free," recalling a seaside walk with the 9-year-old Caroline, whom he had never seen before that visit. Mary was anxious. Upon Caroline's marriage, in 1816, Wordsworth settled £30 a year on her, payments which continued until 1835, when they were replaced by a capital settlement; the year 1793 saw the first publication of poems by Wordsworth, in the collections An Evening Walk and Descriptive Sketches.
In 1795 he received a legacy of 900 pounds from Raisley Calvert and became able to pursue a career as a poet. It was in 1795 that he met Samuel Taylor Coleridge in Somerset; the two poets developed a close friendship. In 1797, Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy moved to Alfoxton House, just a few miles away from Coleridge's home in Nether Stowey. Together Wordsworth and Coleridge produced Lyrical Ballads, an important work in the English Romantic movement; the volume gave Coleridge's name as author. One of Wordsworth's most famous poems, "Tintern Abbey", was published in this collection, along with Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"; the second edition, published in 1800, had only Wordsworth listed as the author, included a preface to the poems. It was augmented in the next edition, pub
Callimachus was a native of the Greek colony of Cyrene, Libya. He was a poet and scholar at the Library of Alexandria and enjoyed the patronage of the Egyptian–Greek Pharaohs Ptolemy II Philadelphus and Ptolemy III Euergetes. Although he was never made chief librarian, he was responsible for producing a bibliographic survey based upon the contents of the Library. This, his Pinakes, 120 volumes long, provided the foundation for work on the history of ancient Greek literature, he is among the most influential scholar-poets of the Hellenistic age. Callimachus was of Libyan Greek origin, he was born c. 310/305 BC and raised in Cyrene, as member of a distinguished family, his parents being Mesatme and Battus, supposed descendant of the first Greek king of Cyrene, Battus I, through whom Callimachus claimed to be a descendant of the Battiad dynasty, the Libyan Greek monarchs that ruled Cyrenaica for eight generations and the first Greek Royal family to have reigned in Africa. He was named after his grandfather, an "elder" Callimachus, regarded by the Cyrenaean citizens and had served as a general.
Callimachus married. However, it is unknown, he had a sister called Megatime but little is known about her: she married a Cyrenaean man called Stasenorus or Stasenor to whom she bore a son, who became a poet, author of "The Island". In years, he was educated in Athens; when he returned to North Africa, he moved to Alexandria. Elitist and erudite, claiming to "abhor all common things," Callimachus is best known for his short poems and epigrams. During the Hellenistic period, a major trend in Greek-language poetry was to reject epics modelled after Homer. Instead, Callimachus urged poets to "drive their wagons on untrodden fields," rather than following in the well worn tracks of Homer, idealizing a form of poetry, brief, yet formed and worded, a style at which he excelled. "Big book, big evil" is another saying attributed to him thought to be attacking long, old-fashioned poetry. Callimachus wrote poems in praise of his royal patrons, a wide variety of other poetic styles, as well as prose and criticism.
Due to Callimachus' strong stance against the epic, he and his younger student Apollonius of Rhodes, who favored epic and wrote the Argonautica, had a long and bitter feud, trading barbed comments and personal attacks for over thirty years. It is now known, through a papyrus fragment from Oxyrhynchus listing the earliest chief librarians of the Library of Alexandria that Ptolemy II never offered the post to Callimachus, but passed him over for Apollonius Rhodius; some classicists, including Peter Green, speculate. According to the current scholarly consensus, the evidence for this putative feud is lacking, it is to be specious. Moreover, without knowing the precise nature of the role, it is impossible to conclude what should be inferred from Callimachus' failure to become chief librarian. Though Callimachus was an opponent of "big books", the Suda puts his number of works at 800, suggesting that he found large quantities of small works more acceptable. Of these, only six hymns, sixty-four epigrams, some fragments are extant.
His Aetia, another rare longer work surviving only in tattered papyrus fragments and quotations in authors, was a collection of elegiac poems in four books, dealing with the foundation of cities, obscure religious ceremonies, unique local traditions chosen for their oddity, other customs, throughout the Hellenic world. In the first three books at least, the formula appears to ask a question of the Muse, of the form, "Why, on Paros, do worshippers of the Charites use neither flutes nor crowns?" "Why, at Argos is a month named for'lambs'?" "Why, at Leucas, does the image of Artemis have a mortar on its head?" A series of questions can be reconstituted from the fragments. One passage of the Aetia, the so-called Coma Berenices, has been reconstructed from papyrus remains and the celebrated Latin adaptation of Catullus; the extant hymns are learned, written in a style that some have criticised as labored and artificial. The epigrams are more respected, several have been incorporated into the Greek Anthology.
According to Quintilian he was the chief of the elegiac poets. Many modern classicists hold Callimachus in high regard for his major influence on Latin poetry. Callimachus' most famous prose work is the Pinakes, a bibliographical survey of authors of the works held in the Library of Alexandria; the Pinakes was one of the first known documents that lists and categorizes a library’s holdings. By consulting the Pinakes, a library patron could find out if the library contained a work by a particular author, how it was categorized, where it might be found, it is important to note that Callimachus did not seem to have any models for his pinakes, invented this system on his own. Pfeiffer, R. Callimachus, vol. I: Fragmenta. ISBN 978-0-19-814115-0. Pfeiffer, R. Callimachus, vol. ii: Hymni
J. R. R. Tolkien
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, was an English writer, poet and academic, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion. He served as the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon and Fellow of Pembroke College, from 1925 to 1945 and Merton Professor of English Language and Literature and Fellow of Merton College, from 1945 to 1959, he was at one time a close friend of C. S. Lewis—they were both members of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings. Tolkien was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 March 1972. After Tolkien's death, his son Christopher published a series of works based on his father's extensive notes and unpublished manuscripts, including The Silmarillion. These, together with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, form a connected body of tales, fictional histories, invented languages, literary essays about a fantasy world called Arda and Middle-earth within it.
Between 1951 and 1955, Tolkien applied the term legendarium to the larger part of these writings. While many other authors had published works of fantasy before Tolkien, the great success of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings led directly to a popular resurgence of the genre; this has caused Tolkien to be popularly identified as the "father" of modern fantasy literature—or, more of high fantasy. In 2008, The Times ranked him sixth on a list of "The 50 greatest British writers since 1945". Forbes ranked him the 5th top-earning "dead celebrity" in 2009. Tolkien's immediate paternal ancestors were middle-class craftsmen who made and sold clocks and pianos in London and Birmingham; the Tolkien family originated in the East Prussian town Kreuzburg near Königsberg, where his first known paternal ancestor Michel Tolkien was born around 1620. Michel's son Christianus Tolkien was a wealthy miller in Kreuzburg, his son Christian Tolkien moved from Kreuzburg to nearby Danzig, his two sons Daniel Gottlieb Tolkien and Johann Benjamin Tolkien emigrated to London in the 1770s and became the ancestors of the English family.
In 1792 John Benjamin Tolkien and William Gravell took over the Erdley Norton manufacture in London, which from on sold clocks and watches under the name Gravell & Tolkien. Daniel Gottlieb obtained British citizenship in 1794, but John Benjamin never became a British citizen. Other German relatives joined the two brothers in London. Several people with the surname Tolkien or similar spelling, some of them members of the same family as J. R. R. Tolkien, live in northern Germany, but most of them are descendants of recent refugees from East Prussia who fled the Red Army invasion and subsequent ethnic cleansing. According to Ryszard Derdziński the Tolkien name is of Low Prussian origin and means "son/descendant of Tolk." Tolkien mistakenly believed his surname derived from the German word tollkühn, meaning "foolhardy", jokingly inserted himself as a "cameo" into The Notion Club Papers under the translated name Rashbold. However, Derdziński has demonstrated this to be a false etymology. While J. R. R. Tolkien was aware of the Tolkien family's German origin, his knowledge of the family's history was limited because he was "early isolated from the family of his prematurely deceased father".
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on 3 January 1892 in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State to Arthur Reuel Tolkien, an English bank manager, his wife Mabel, née Suffield. The couple had left England when Arthur was promoted to head the Bloemfontein office of the British bank for which he worked. Tolkien had one sibling, his younger brother, Hilary Arthur Reuel Tolkien, born on 17 February 1894; as a child, Tolkien was bitten by a large baboon spider in the garden, an event some think echoed in his stories, although he admitted no actual memory of the event and no special hatred of spiders as an adult. In another incident, a young family servant, who thought Tolkien a beautiful child, took the baby to his kraal to show him off, returning him the next morning; when he was three, he went to England with his mother and brother on what was intended to be a lengthy family visit. His father, died in South Africa of rheumatic fever before he could join them; this left the family without an income, so Tolkien's mother took him to live with her parents in Kings Heath, Birmingham.
Soon after, in 1896, they moved to Sarehole a Worcestershire village annexed to Birmingham. He enjoyed exploring Sarehole Mill and Moseley Bog and the Clent and Malvern Hills, which would inspire scenes in his books, along with nearby towns and villages such as Bromsgrove and Alvechurch and places such as his aunt Jane's farm of Bag End, the name of which he used in his fiction. Mabel Tolkien taught her two children at home. Ronald, as he was known in the family, was a keen pupil, she taught him a great deal of botany and awakened in him the enjoyment of the look and feel of plants. Young Tolkien liked to draw landscapes and trees, but his favourite lessons were those concerning languages, his mother taught him the rudiments of Latin early. Tolkien could write fluently soon afterwards, his mother allowed him to read many books. He disliked Treasure Island and The Pied Piper and thought Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll was "amusing but disturbing", he liked stories about "Red Indians" and the fantasy wor