John Ronald Reuel Tolkien -- more commonly known by his pen name, J.R.R. Tolkien -- was born to English parents in the town of Bloemfontein, South Africa. Shortly after his third birthday, Tolkien's family migrated to England, the varied landscapes of which would come to inspire those of Middle-earth in his legendary trilogy, The Lord of the Rings. Before he wrote the epic series, however, Tolkien attended England's prestigious Oxford University, where he received a First Class Honors degree in English Language and Literature. Shortly after his graduation and marriage to long-time acquaintance Edith Bratt, the author served briefly in the British Army during World War I. Despite suffering from shell shock, Tolkien, upon his return, immersed himself in creating a mythology which, unbeknownst to him at the time, would have a profound influence not only within the literary world and aspiring gamers, but also in film. The Lord of the Rings and, albeit to a lesser extent, The Hobbit, took the fantasy genre to mainstream movie audiences during the '60s and '70s, and was revitalized to a seemingly insurmountable extent in the early 2000s. This is, of course, is in reference to director Peter Jackson's epic -- and multiple Oscar-winning -- adaptation of the trilogy. Mirroring the novel itself, Jackson's films were vast and complex enough in scope to raise the bar for even the most established of directors. The film inspired an enthusiasm and following not seen since the release of Star Wars in 1977; long-time fans of the novel slept outside of the theaters on opening night, often dressed in traditional Elvin garb, while a new generation lined up to buy the books that inspired the movie. Unfortunately, Tolkien died well before the 2001 release of Jackson's The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, though his legacy and influence are perhaps stronger than they have ever been. Interestingly enough, the second most popular fantasy series of modern times -- Harry Potter, of course -- was largely inspired by Tolkien's work, according to its author, J.K. Rowling.