Edith Tolkien

From Tolkien Gateway
Edith Tolkien
Biographical information
BornJanuary 21, 1889
DiedNovember 29, 1971

...only the rarest good fortune brings together the man and woman who are really as it were 'destined' for one another, and capable of a very great and splendid love.

Edith Mary Tolkien (née Bratt) (January 21, 1889November 29, 1971) was the daughter of Frances Bratt and Alfred Frederick Warrilow. She would become J.R.R. Tolkien's wife.


Edith never knew her father and was brought up in Birmingham by her mother, and cousin Jenny Grove. Francis Bratt died when Edith was 14 and she was sent to the Dresden House, a boarding school where she developed a love for piano and soon moved into a boarding house.[1]

When Tolkien was living at 37 Duchess Road, Edgbaston, Edith was a young female lodger who lived in the bedroom beneath Tolkien and his brother Hilary. At the time Tolkien was 16 and Edith was 19. They quickly became close but when Tolkien's guardian Francis Xavier Morgan found out he forbade contact between them until Tolkien turned 21. During their years apart she got engaged to George Field but when Tolkien sent her a letter on the evening of his twenty-first birthday she broke off her engagement to Field and announced her engagement to Tolkien. Following her engagement she converted to Roman Catholicism.[1]

They were married on Wednesday, 22 March, 1916 in the Church of St Mary Immaculate, in Warwickshire, England. Only a few months later Tolkien was shipped to Étaples, France.[2] Her Husband being in the military during WWI was a very stressful time in her life. She kept a map of France on the wall to help her know where he was. After his return their first child John Tolkien was born on 16 November 1917

While stationed at Kingston upon Hull, Ronald and Edith went on a walk through the woods and she danced for him. He later tells an interviewer Bill Cater, "We walked in a wood where hemlock was growing, a sea of white flowers." This inspired the meeting of Beren and Lúthien.[3] After the war the Tolkiens had 3 more children, Michael, Christopher and Priscilla.

In the 1960s they moved near Bournemouth. Her grandson, Simon Tolkien writes:

The grave of J.R.R. and Edith Tolkien

Bournemouth was certainly not My Grandfather's first choice of place to live, and I'm sure he missed Oxford. However, my grandmother loved the Miramar, and My Grandfather wanted to make her happy in the last years of their lives.[4]

Edith Tolkien died on 29 November 1971 at the age of 82 and was buried in Wolvercote Cemetery. J.R.R. Tolkien never referred to Edith as Lúthien, but he considered her as such, so he asked that the name Lúthien be inscribed on her grave.[5] When he died 21 months later he was buried with her and had Beren inscribed on the gravestone.[6]

In the biographical drama film, named Tolkien, she was portrayed by actresses Lily Collins and Mimi Keene.

Family Tree

Edith Bratt
J.R.R. Tolkien
John Tolkien
Michael Tolkien
Faith Faulconbridge
Christopher Tolkien
Baillie Tolkien
Priscilla Tolkien
Simon Tolkien
Adam Tolkien
Rachel Tolkien

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Humphrey Carpenter, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, "II. 1892-1916: Early years", "‘Private Lang.’ – And Edith"
  2. John Garth, Tolkien and the Great War
  3. Bill Cater, "We talked of love, death and fairy tales" dated 4 December 2001, (accessed 13 January 2024)
  4. Simon Tolkien, "My Grandfather - JRR Tolkien" dated 16 June 2003, simontolkien.com (accessed 11 January 2024)
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 340, (dated 11 July 1972)
  6. Humphrey Carpenter, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, "VII. 1959-1973: Last years"