When JRR Tolkien was attending Oxford University, he studied philology which is basically the study of language. It was there at Oxford he created the language of the elves that is spoken, written and often song in the Lord of the Rings. He wanted to write the entire book in the language of the elves, but realized that not even his closest friends would read such a volume written in a made up language. So he wrote it in English with the intent that his friend and colleagues to read it. One has to wonder what he would think of Peter Jackson's films and his current popularity. Maybe if he wrote the books in elven Mel Gibson would have taken the project on instead!
Luckily his colleagues did read his stuff because C.S. Lewis read The Hobbit and convinced him to publish it as a children's book. It was then then he decided that this elven project would be the sequel to The Hobbit. But evolved into a story geared more towards adults due to its complexity and darkness.
I also learned today that Tolkien was South African. He was born in Orange Free State (now name Free State Province), South African. His family moved to England when he was the age of 3.