Tolkien’s CV in His Own Words

From J. R. R. Tolkien’s 1925 letter of application to the Professorship of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford:

“I entered Exeter College [Oxford] as Stapledon Exhibitioner in 1911. After taking Classical Moderations in 1913 (in which I specialized in Greek philology), I graduated with first class honours in English in 1915, my special subject being Old Icelandic. Until the end of 1918 I held a commission in the Lancashire Fusiliers [i.e., fought in WWI, including the Somme], and at that date entered the service of the Oxford English Dictionary. I was one of Dr. Bradley’s assistants until the Spring of 1920, when my own work and the increasing labours of a tutor made it impossible to continue.

In October 1920 I went to Leeds as a Reader in English Language, with a free commission to develop the linguistic side of a large and growing School of English studies, […] The instruction has been gradually extended and now covers a large part of the field of English and Germanic Philology. Courses are given on Old English heroic verse, the history of English*, various Old English and Middle English texts*, Old and Middle English philology*, introductory Germanic philology*, Gothic, Old Icelandic (a second-year* and third-year course), and Medieval Welsh*. All these courses I have from time to time given myself; those that I have given personally in the past year are marked *. […]

If elected to the Rawlinson and Bosworth Chair I should endeavor to make productive use of the opportunities which it offers for research; to advance, to the best of my ability, the growing neighborliness of linguistic and literary studies, which can never be enemies except by misunderstanding or without loss to both; and to continue in a wider and more fertile field the encouragement of philological enthusiasm among the young.

I remain, Gentlemen, Your obedient servant, J. R. R. Tolkien”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, ed. Humphrey Carpenter and Christopher Tolkien (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1981), 12–13.



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