On this day in 1937, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit was published. Tolkien began the book in a rather unexpected way. As a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University, Tolkien would augment his salary in the summers by marking School Certificate exams, a test taken by 16 year-olds in the United Kingdom. In a 1955 letter to the poet W.H. Auden, Tolkien recounted the moment that launched what was to become a classic in fantasy and children’s literature. Taking a small break from correcting student papers, he scribbled the following sentence on a blank sheet of paper:
‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.’ (1).
The opening line that Tolkien scribbled on a blank page that fateful day remained intact in the published final draft.
Today’s Challenge: From Blank Page to Page Turner
What character and setting would you introduce in the first two sentences of a story? Grab your own blank piece of paper, and draft at least two sentences that introduce a character and a setting for a story. Hold a contest to see whose novel first lines resonate the most with readers. (Common Core Writing 3 – Narrative)
1-Flood, Alison. JRR Tolkien Called Teaching ‘Exhausting and Depressing’ in Unseen Letter.