Prior to the publication of , J.R.R. Tolkien was largely unknown outside of his chosen field of Philology. During this period he produced the academic works on which his reputation was founded - his edition of and his landmark lecture: .
Tolkien was also writing and publishing poetry - some of which was published in school, university and small press publications. Middle-earth sprang into being during the First World War, and quickly flourished - many of the tales that would after his death be published as were first written during or soon after the War.
Sir Gawain and the Green Knight
Beowulf: The Monsters & the Critics
The illustration opposite is by Warwick Goble, taken from edited by Dora Owen. This represents the first time Tolkien's published writings were illustrated.