John Ronald Reuel ( J R R) Tolkien was born in South Africa in 1892. His father died there while the rest of the family were visiting the UK. They remained here, living with his mother’s parents near Birmingham. He was home schooled until he entered Birmingham School and was by all accounts a bright boy who after graduation and war service in WWI joined Leeds University as a Reader in 1920.
He lived and worked in Leeds till 1925. Towards the end of his time here he lived in Far Headingley, in the north of the city. It’s not too far from where we live now. He loved walking and he walked into the University along the Meanwood Valley. This is our daily walk and includes a park and a beautiful oak wood. Leeds City appraisal and management plan states that these trees were most probably planted at the start of the 19th century – over 200 years ago. Originally planted to provide timber for the tannery along the beck, they are now substantial and provide a haven for birds, animals and people. We would certainly have struggled considerably more during the lockdown without this fabulous facility close by.
So as we walk through the oak woods each day, it’s heartening to imagine that Ronald, as he was known, would have walked past the same trees and possibly considered what might happen if they started walking themselves – Ents?