Fionn mac Cumhaill
Fionn mac Cumhaill was a mythical hunter-warrior of Irish mythology, occurring in the mythologies of Scotland and the Isle of Man. The stories of Fionn and his followers the Fianna, form the Fenian Cycle, much of it narrated in the voice of Fionn's son, the poet Oisín. In Old Irish, finn means "white, lustrous, it is cognate with Proto-Irish VENDO-, Welsh gwyn, Cornish gwen, Breton gwenn, Continental Celtic and Brittonic *uindo-, comes from the Proto-Celtic adjective masculine singular *windos. Most of Fionn's early adventures are recounted in the narrative The Boyhood Deeds of Fionn, he was the son of Cumhall, leader of the Fianna, Muirne, daughter of the druid Tadg mac Nuadat who lived on the hill of Almu in County Kildare. Cumhall abducted Muirne after her father refused him her hand, so Tadg appealed to the High King, Conn of the Hundred Battles, who outlawed Cumhall; the Battle of Cnucha was fought between Conn and Cumhall, Cumhall was killed by Goll mac Morna, who took over leadership of the Fianna.
Fionn Mac Cumhaill was said to be from Ballyfin, in Laois. The direct translation of Ballyfin from Irish to English is "town of Fionn". Muirne was pregnant. In Fiacal's house Muirne gave birth to a son, whom she called Deimne "sureness" or "certainty" a name that means a young male deer. Muirne left the boy in the care of Bodhmall and a fighting woman, Liath Luachra, they brought him up in secret in the forest of Sliabh Bladma, teaching him the arts of war and hunting; as he grew older he entered the service – incognito – of a number of local kings, but each one, when he recognised Fionn as Cumhal's son, told him to leave, fearing they would be unable to protect him from his enemies. The young Fionn met the leprechaun-like druid and poet Finn Eces, or Finnegas, near the river Boyne and studied under him. Finnegas had spent seven years trying to catch the Salmon of Knowledge, which lived in a pool on the Boyne and became all-knowing through its diet of hazelnuts from a holy tree: whoever ate the salmon would gain all the knowledge in the world.
The old man caught it, told the boy to cook it for him. While cooking it Deimne burned his thumb, instinctively put his thumb in his mouth; this imbued him with the salmon's wisdom, when Finn Eces saw that he had gained wisdom, he gave young Fionn the whole salmon to eat. Fionn knew how to gain revenge against Goll, in subsequent stories was able to call on the knowledge of the salmon by putting his thumb to the tooth that had first tasted the salmon; the story of Fionn and the salmon of knowledge and the Welsh tale of Gwion Bach are similar. Every year for 23 years at Samhain, a fire-breathing man of the Sidhe, would lull the men of Tara to sleep with his music before burning the palace to the ground, the Fianna, led by Goll mac Morna, were powerless to prevent it; the Fianna were a band of warriors known as a military order composed of the members of two clans, "Clan Bascna" and "Clan Morna", the Fenians were supposed to be devoted to the service of the High King and to the repelling of foreign invaders.
Fionn arrived at Tara with his father's crane-skin bag of magical weapons. He kept himself awake by touching the point of his magically red-hot spear to his forehead; the pain kept allowing him to pursue and kill Aillen with the same spear. After that his heritage was recognised and he was given command of the Fianna: Goll willingly stepped aside, became a loyal follower of Fionn, although in some stories their alliance is uneasy. Fionn demanded compensation for his father's death from Tadg, threatening war or single combat against him if he refused. Tadg offered him his home, the hill of Allen, as compensation, which Fionn accepted. Fionn met his most famous wife, when he was out hunting, she had been turned into a deer by Fear Doirich, whom she had refused to marry. Fionn's hounds and Sceólang, born of a human enchanted into the form of a hound, recognised her as human, Fionn brought her home, she transformed back into a woman the moment she set foot on Fionn's land, as this was the one place she could regain her true form.
She and Fionn married and she was soon pregnant. When Fionn was away defending his country, Fear Doirich returned and turned her back into a deer, whereupon she vanished. Fionn spent years searching for her, but to no avail. Bran and Sceólang, again hunting, found Oisín, in the form of a fawn. In The Pursuit of Diarmuid and Gráinne the High King Cormac mac Airt promises the aging Fionn his daughter Gráinne, but at the wedding feast Gráinne falls for one of the Fianna, Diarmuid Ua Duibhne, noted for his beauty, she forces him to run away with her and Fionn pursues them. The lovers are helped by the Fianna, by Diarmuid's foster-father, the god Aengus. Fionn makes his peace with the couple. Years however, Fionn invites Di
In ancient Roman religion and myth, Mars was the god of war and an agricultural guardian, a combination characteristic of early Rome. He was second in importance only to Jupiter and he was the most prominent of the military gods in the religion of the Roman army. Most of his festivals were held in March, the month named for him, in October, which began the season for military campaigning and ended the season for farming. Under the influence of Greek culture, Mars was identified with the Greek god Ares, whose myths were reinterpreted in Roman literature and art under the name of Mars, but the character and dignity of Mars differed in fundamental ways from that of his Greek counterpart, treated with contempt and revulsion in Greek literature. Mars was a part of the Archaic Triad along with Jupiter and Quirinus, the latter of whom, as a guardian of the Roman people, had no Greek equivalent. Mars' altar in the Campus Martius, the area of Rome that took its name from him, was supposed to have been dedicated by Numa, the peace-loving semi-legendary second king of Rome.
Although the center of Mars' worship was located outside the sacred boundary of Rome, Augustus made the god a renewed focus of Roman religion by establishing the Temple of Mars Ultor in his new forum. Although Ares was viewed as a destructive and destabilizing force, Mars represented military power as a way to secure peace, was a father of the Roman people. In the mythic genealogy and founding myths of Rome, Mars was the father of Romulus and Remus with Rhea Silvia, his love affair with Venus symbolically reconciled the two different traditions of Rome's founding. The importance of Mars in establishing religious and cultural identity within the Roman Empire is indicated by the vast number of inscriptions identifying him with a local deity in the Western provinces. Mars may be a reflex of the Proto-Indo-European god Perkwunos, having a thunderer character. At least etymological Etruscan predecessors are present in Maris, though this is not universally agreed upon. Like Ares, the son of Zeus and Hera, Mars is considered to be the son of Jupiter and Juno.
However, in a version of his birth given by Ovid, he was the son of Juno alone. Jupiter had usurped the mother's function. Flora tested it on a heifer who became fecund at once, she plucked a flower ritually using her thumb, touched Juno's belly, impregnated her. Juno withdrew to the shore of Marmara for the birth. Ovid tells this story in his long-form poetic work on the Roman calendar, it may explain why the Matronalia, a festival celebrated by married women in honor of Juno as a goddess of childbirth, occurred on the first day of Mars' month, marked on a calendar from late antiquity as the birthday of Mars. In the earliest Roman calendar, March was the first month, the god would have been born with the new year. Ovid is the only source for the story, he may be presenting a literary myth of his own invention, or an otherwise unknown archaic Italic tradition. The consort of Mars was Nerio or Neriene, "Valor." She represents the vital force and majesty of Mars. Her name was regarded as Sabine in origin and is equivalent to Latin virtus, "manly virtue".
In the early 3rd century BC, the comic playwright Plautus has a reference to Mars greeting Nerio, his wife. A source from late antiquity says that Mars and Neriene were celebrated together at a festival held on March 23. In the Roman Empire, Neriene came to be identified with Minerva. Nerio originates as a divine personification of Mars' power, as such abstractions in Latin are feminine, her name appears with that of Mars in an archaic prayer invoking a series of abstract qualities, each paired with the name of a deity. The influence of Greek mythology and its anthropomorphic gods may have caused Roman writers to treat these pairs as "marriages." The union of Venus and Mars held greater appeal for poets and philosophers, the couple were a frequent subject of art. In Greek myth, the adultery of Ares and Aphrodite had been exposed to ridicule when her husband Hephaestus caught them in the act by means of a magical snare. Although not part of the Roman tradition, in 217 BC Venus and Mars were presented as a complementary pair in the lectisternium, a public banquet at which images of twelve major gods of the Roman state were presented on couches as if present and participating.
Scenes of Venus and Mars in Roman art ignore the adulterous implications of their union, take pleasure in the good-looking couple attended by Cupid or multiple Loves. Some scenes may imply marriage, the relationship was romanticized in funerary or domestic art in which husbands and wives had themselves portrayed as the passionate divine couple; the uniting of deities representing Love and War lent itself to allegory since the lovers were the parents of Concordia. The Renaissance philosopher Marsilio Ficino notes that "only Venus dominates Mars, he never dominates her". In ancient Roman and Renaissance art, Mars is shown disarmed and relaxed, or sleeping, but the extram
Annals of Inisfallen
The Annals of Inisfallen are a chronicle of the medieval history of Ireland. There are more than 2,500 entries spanning the years between 433 and 1450; the manuscript is thought to have been compiled in 1092, as the chronicle is written by a single scribe down to that point but updated by many different hands thereafter. It was written by the monks of Innisfallen Abbey, on Innisfallen Island on Lough Leane, near Killarney in Munster, but made use of sources produced at different centres around Munster as well as a Clonmacnoise group text of the hypothetical Chronicle of Ireland; as well as the chronological entries, the manuscript contains a short, fragmented narrative of the history of pre-Christian Ireland, known as the pre-Patrician section, from the time of Abraham to the arrival of Saint Patrick in Ireland. This has many elements in common with Lebor Gabála Érenn, it sets the history of Ireland and the Gaels within Eusebian universal history, provided both by a Latin world chronicle and extracts from Réidig dam, a Dé, do nim, a Middle Irish poem attributed to Flann Mainistrech in manuscripts.
The annals are now housed in the Bodleian Library in Oxford. In 2001, Brian O'Leary, a Fianna Fáil councillor in Killarney, called for the annals to be returned to the town. Irish annals The Chronicle of Ireland Evans, The Present and the Past in Medieval Irish Chronicles, Studies in Celtic History 27, Woodbridge: Boydell Hughes, Early Christian Ireland: Introduction to the Sources, Sources of History, London: Hodder and Stoughton Annals of Inisfallen — Text of the annals Annals of Inisfallen — Original text Annals of Inisfallen — pre-Patrician section Digitised images from Rawlinson B 503, Images available on Digital Bodleian. Call for Annals of Innisfallen to be returned to Killarney — local newspaper article
Tuatha Dé Danann
The Tuath Dé Danann known by the earlier name Tuath Dé, are a supernatural race in Irish mythology. They are thought to represent the main deities of pre-Christian Gaelic Ireland; the Tuatha Dé Danann constitute a pantheon whose attributes appeared in a number of forms throughout the Celtic world. The Tuath Dé interact with humans and the human world, they are associated with ancient passage tombs, such as Brú na Bóinne, which were seen as portals to the Otherworld. Their traditional rivals are the Fomorians, who seem to represent the harmful or destructive powers of nature, who the Tuath Dé defeat in the Battle of Mag Tuired; each member of the Tuath Dé has associations with a particular feature of life or nature, but many appear to have more than one association. Many have bynames, some representing different aspects of the deity and others being regional names or epithets. Much of Irish mythology was recorded by Christian monks, they depicted the Tuath Dé as kings and heroes of the distant past who had supernatural powers.
Other times they were explained as fallen angels who were neither evil. However, some medieval writers acknowledged, they appear in tales set centuries apart, showing them to be immortal. Prominent members of the Tuath Dé include The Dagda, they have parallels in the pantheons of other Celtic peoples: for example Lugh is cognate with the pan-Celtic god Lugus, Nuada with the British god Nodens, Brigid with Brigantia. The Tuath Dé became the Aos Sí or "fairies" of folklore; the Old Irish word tuath means "people, nation". In the earliest writings, the mythical race are referred to as the Tuath Dé. However, Irish monks began using the term Tuath Dé to refer to the Israelites, with the meaning "People of God". To avoid confusion with the Israelites, writers began to refer to the mythical race as the Tuath Dé Danann; the Old Irish pronunciation is and the Modern Irish pronunciation is in the West and North, in the South. Danann is believed to be the genitive of a female name, for which the nominative case is not attested.
It has been reconstructed as Danu. Anu is called "mother of the Irish gods" by Cormac mac Cuilennáin; this may be linked to the Welsh mythical figure Dôn. Hindu mythology has a goddess called Danu, who may be an Indo-European parallel. However, this reconstruction is not universally accepted, it has been suggested that Danann is a conflation of dán and the goddess name Anann. The name is found as Donann and Domnann, which may point to the origin being proto-Celtic *don, meaning "earth". There may be a link with the British Dumnonii; the Tuatha Dé Danann were descended from leader of a previous wave of inhabitants of Ireland. They came from four cities to the north of Ireland—Falias, Gorias and Finias—where they taught their skills in the sciences, including architecture, the arts, magic, including necromancy. According to Lebor Gabála Érenn, they came to Ireland "in dark clouds" and "landed on the mountains of Conmaicne Rein in Connachta", otherwise Sliabh an Iarainn, "and they brought a darkness over the sun for three days and three nights".
They burnt the ships "so that they should not think of retreating to them. Therefore it was conceived that they had arrived in clouds of mist". A poem in the Lebor Gabála Érenn says of their arrival: It is God who suffered them, though He restrained themthey landed with horror, with lofty deed, in their cloud of mighty combat of spectres, upon a mountain of Conmaicne of Connacht. Without distinction to descerning Ireland, Without ships, a ruthless course the truth was not known beneath the sky of stars, whether they were of heaven or of earth. Led by their king, they fought the First Battle of Magh Tuireadh on the west coast, in which they defeated and displaced the native Fir Bolg, who inhabited Ireland. In the battle, Nuada lost an arm to Sreng. Since Nuada was no longer "unblemished", he could not continue as king and was replaced by the half-Fomorian Bres, who turned out to be a tyrant; the physician Dian Cecht replaced Nuada's arm with a working silver one and he was reinstated as king. However, Dian Cecht's son Miach was dissatisfied with the replacement so he recited the spell, "ault fri halt dí & féith fri féth", which caused flesh to grow over the silver prosthesis over the course of nine days and nights.
However, in a fit of jealous rage Dian Cecht slew his own son. Because of Nuada's restoration as leader, Bres complained to his family and his father, who sent him to seek assistance from Balor, king of the Fomorians; the Tuatha Dé Danann fought the Second Battle of Magh Tuireadh against the Fomorians. Nuada was killed by the Fomorian king Balor's poisonous eye, but Balor was
The Britons known as Celtic Britons or Ancient Britons, were Celtic people who inhabited Great Britain from the British Iron Age into the Middle Ages, at which point their culture and language diverged into the modern Welsh and Bretons. They spoke the ancestor to the modern Brittonic languages; the traditional view that the Celtic Britons migrated from the continent across the English Channel, with their languages and genes in the Iron Age has been undermined in recent decades by the contention of many scholars that Celtic languages had instead spread north along the Atlantic seaboard during the Bronze Age, the results of genetic studies, which show a large continuity between Iron Age and older British populations, suggesting trans-cultural diffusion was very important in the introduction of the Celtic languages. The earliest evidence for the Britons and their language in historical sources dates to the Iron Age. After the Roman conquest of Britain in the 1st century, a Romano-British culture emerged, Latin and British Vulgar Latin coexisted with Brittonic.
During and after the Roman era, the Britons lived throughout Britain. Their relationship with the Picts, who lived north of the Firth of Forth, has been the subject of much discussion, though most scholars now accept that the Pictish language was related to Common Brittonic, rather than a separate Celtic language. With the beginning of Anglo-Saxon settlement and Gaelic Scots in the 5th and 6th centuries, the culture and language of the Britons fragmented, much of their territory was taken over by the Anglo-Saxons and Scots Gaels; the extent to which this cultural and linguistic change was accompanied by wholesale changes in the population is still a matter of discussion. During this period some Britons migrated to mainland Europe and established significant colonies in Brittany, the Channel Islands as well as Britonia in modern Galicia, Spain. By the beginning of the 11th century, remaining Brittonic Celtic-speaking populations had split into distinct groups: the Welsh in Wales, the Cornish in Cornwall, the Bretons in Brittany, the Cumbric speaking people of the Hen Ogledd in southern Scotland and northern England, the remnants of the Pictish people in the north of Scotland.
Common Brittonic developed into the distinct Brittonic languages: Welsh, Cumbric and Breton. The earliest known reference to the inhabitants of Britain seems to come from 4th century BC records of the voyage of Pytheas, a Greek geographer who made a voyage of exploration around the British Isles between 330 and 320 BC. Although none of his own writings remain, writers during the time of the Roman Empire made much reference to them. Pytheas called the islands collectively αἱ Βρεττανίαι, translated as the Brittanic Isles; the peoples of these islands were called the Πρεττανοί, Pritani or Pretani. The group included Ireland, referred to as Ierne "inhabited by the race of Hiberni", Britain as insula Albionum, "island of the Albions"; the term Pritani may have reached Pytheas from the Gauls, who used it as their term for the inhabitants of the islands. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, compiled by the orders of King Alfred the Great in 890, subsequently maintained and added to by generations of anonymous scribes until the middle of the 12th century, starts with this sentence: "The island Britain is 800 miles long, 200 miles broad, there are in the island five nations: English, Scottish and Latin.
The first inhabitants were the Britons, who came from Armenia, first peopled Britain southward." The Latin name in the early Roman Empire period was Britanni or Brittanni, following the Roman conquest in AD 43. The Welsh word Brython was introduced into English usage by John Rhys in 1884 as a term unambiguously referring to the P-Celtic speakers of Great Britain, to complement Goidel. "Brittonic languages" is a more recent coinage intended to refer to the ancient Britons specifically. In English, the terms "Briton" and British for many centuries denoted only the ancient Celtic Britons and their descendants, most the Welsh and Bretons, who were seen as heirs to the ancient British people. After the Acts of Union 1707, the terms British and Briton came to be applied to all inhabitants of the Kingdom of Great Britain, including the English and some Northern Irish; the Britons spoke an Insular Celtic language known as Common Brittonic. Brittonic was spoken throughout the island of Britain, as well as offshore islands such as the Isle of Man, Scilly Isles, Hebrides, Isle of Wight and Shetland.
According to early medieval historical tradition, such as The Dream of Macsen Wledig, the post-Roman Celtic-speakers of Armorica were colonists from Britain, resulting in the Breton language, a language related to Welsh and identical to Cornish in the early period and still used today. Thus the area today is called Brittany. Common Brittonic developed from the Insular branch of the Proto-Celtic language that developed in the British Isles after arriving from the continent in the 7th century BC; the language began to diverge.
Lydney Park is a 17th-century country estate surrounding Lydney House, located at Lydney in the Forest of Dean district in Gloucestershire, England. It is known for Roman temple complex. Lydney Park was bought in 1719 by Benjamin Bathurst, son of the Cofferer of the Household to Queen Anne, has remained in the family since then; the house was close to the main road, with a large deer park behind it. In 1875, Rev. William Hiley Bathurst built a new house in the centre of the deer park, with views over the River Severn; the new house was built with a formal garden and shrubberies. The old house was demolished, apart from the buildings now occupied by the Taurus Crafts centre. Rev. Bathurst's grandson Charles Viscount Bledisloe, made some further changes to the garden before the house became used in the Second World War, first to house the Dutch royal family and a girls' school; the current garden was developed after 1950 by his family. There is a woodland garden running along a secluded valley, planted with magnolias, rhododendrons and other flowering shrubs.
There is a paved terrace above and formal gardens which are popular in the Spring, when the daffodils bloom. The gardens are private land, are open to the public on certain days depending on time of year; the house has a museum containing findings from the Roman site and artefacts from New Zealand collected by the first Viscount Bledisloe. The area has an early British Iron Age promontory fort–type hill fort, known as Lydney Camp, covering 4.5 acres. The Romans dug there for iron ore in the 3rd century AD, but abandoned the workings as unproductive. Open-cast iron mines, or scowles, tunnels still exist throughout the hill. In the late 4th century, the Romans built a Romano-Celtic temple to Nodens, a Celtic divinity, reflected by the figures of Nuada and Nudd/Lludd in Irish and Welsh mythology respectively. Lludd's name survives in the placename of Lydney. Several model dog images have been found indicating it was a healing shrine; the structure was a somewhat unusual design consisting of a cross between a basilica and the usual Romano-Celtic style temple.
The walls of the sanctuary or cella were arched colonnades until a fault in the rock below caused the total collapse of the temple. It was rebuilt with solid walls to the cella. There was a fish-covered mosaic with an inscription that referred to'Victorinus the Interpreter' an interpreter of dreams; the temple was accompanied by a large courtyard guest house, a long building used as dormitory accommodation and an elaborate bath suite or thermae. Sir Mortimer Wheeler excavated the site between 1928–9 and more excavations took place in 1980–1; the finds included a hoard of imitation Roman coins which were thought to date from the 5th century, but are now believed to be 4th century artefacts. Other finds suggest; the author of The Lord of the Rings novel, J. R. R. Tolkien a well-known philologist, was asked by Wheeler to write a paper, The Name'Nodens', included as an appendix to the excavation report. Local folklore claims that, after the Romans' departure, the local people began to believe the ruins were the home to dwarves, hobgoblins or little people.
Wheeler, R. E. M. & T. V. Report on the excavation of the prehistoric and post-Roman site in Lydney Park, Gloucestershire. Oxford. Lydney Park Estate - Home Page http://www.aboutbritain.com/lydneyparkgardens.htm http://www.fweb.org.uk/dean/visitor/tlydpark.htm http://www.bbc.co.uk/gloucestershire/films/tolkien.shtml https://web.archive.org/web/20070328234427/http://www.roman-britain.org/places/lydney.htm
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