From Tolkien Gateway
Bloemfontein 1900.jpg
Bloemfontein in 1900.
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Bloemfontein is the city where J.R.R. Tolkien was born in 1892. Now part of the nation of South Africa, at the time that the Tolkien family lived there it was the capital of the independent Orange Free State. Tolkien, his mother, and his brother moved back to England in 1895 while his father, Arthur Tolkien, remained because of business until he died in 1896. Although the name of the city means "fountain of flowers" in Dutch and is nicknamed Stad van die Rose (English: "City of the Roses") in Afrikaans, Tolkien’s first childhood memories were of a hot, parched country with a blazing sun, drawn curtains, and a drooping eucalyptus.[1]

Bloemfontein was also the seat of the now defunct South Africa Tolkien Society. This Tolkien Society published a touristic walking tour of Bloemfontein in the early 2000s.[2][3] The Bank of Africa building where Arthur Reuel Tolkien worked no longer exists and a commemorative plaque on the new building was stolen, later recovered and then stored in municipal archives. The Anglican Cathedral of Bloemfontein with the baptism font still stands today as do many of the sandstone buildings of the Republic of the Orange Free State period from the same period as J.R.R. Tolkien's early years.

Commemorative Plaque.

The Afrikaans Language Museum in Bloemfontein was scheduled to have a bust of J.R.R. Tolkien in the front garden, along with other famous (predominantly South Africa Afrikaans and Dutch) authors. However, as many bronze busts were stolen over the decades this plan never materialized.[4] The Afrikaans Language Museum also hosted Tolkien exhibitions in the early 2000s.[5][6]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 163, (dated 7 June 1955)
  2. Die Burger, "Op die Tolkien-spoor in Bloemfontein" 12 April 2003 (accessed 31 October 2011)
  3., "The Tolkien Trail" (accessed 31 October 2011)
  4. "Drie dokter-skrywers se beelde soek", 15 April 1996 (accessed 31 October 2011)
  5. Volksblad, "Ontdek dalk 'n Hobbit op dié roete", 12 December 2001 (accessed 4 November 2011)
  6. "Skrywers van Bfn kry beter bemarking" (accessed 4 November 2011)

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