Tolkien's Boredom Led Him to Pen The Hobbit

"In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."  Those words, which opened J.R.R. Tolkien's seminal classic The Hobbit or There and Back Again, introduced millions of readers to the enchanting world of Middle-Earth.

Any author will tell you that writing the opening and closing sentences to a book is no small task. So surely Tolkien must have spent hours trying to come up with the opening to his first original novel, right?  


The words that opened one of the greatest fantasy novels of all time were little more than a doodle. According to an interview he gave to the BBC, Tolkien was grading exams for a class he was teaching at Oxford, becoming more bored with each one he corrected. It was during a fit of boredom that he scribbled the words that opened his first novel on a question his student had left blank.

Of course Tolkien had been working on the mythology of Middle-Earth since about 1917 or 1918, but he had yet to set down an actual novel-length story for his world.  

So remember to hold on to any nonsense you may write or doodles you draw as they may in fact be the inspiration for your greatest work!

Source: The BBC