Edith Bratt was born in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire. Her mother, Frances Bratt, was the unmarried daughter of a shoe and bootmaker. Edith was raised in Handsworth, a suburb of Birmingham, by her mother and her cousin. When Edith was 14 her mother died and she was sent to live at the Dresden House boarding school in Evesham. Here she developed her love for the piano. Her guardian, solicitor Stephen Gateley, had her stay at Mrs. Faulkner's boarding house at 37 Duchess Road, Birmingham.
Edith met Ronald Tolkien (i.e. "John Ronald Reuel") in early 1908, when he and his brother moved into 37 Duchess Road. At this time, Tolkien was 16 years old and Edith 19, and she lived in the floor below his. When their relationship began and became known to Tolkien's guardian, Fr. Francis Xavier Morgan, he viewed Edith as a distraction to Tolkien's schoolwork, and was bothered by her Anglican religion. He forbade them to meet again until Tolkien turned 21. Tolkien obeyed Father Morgan, but on the evening of Tolkien's 21st birthday he wrote a letter to Edith asking her to marry him. She replied that she was already engaged, but implied that she did so because she thought Tolkien had forgotten her. Tolkien journeyed to Cheltenham, where he and Edith met at the railway station. She returned her ring and later would announce that she was engaged to Tolkien.
Soon after Tolkien's and Edith's wedding, Tolkien embarked on a course at the British Army signals school at Otley. In order to be closer to John she moved into a cottage in the village of Great Haywood, with her cousin Jennie Grove. Tolkien was commissioned as a second lieutenant into the Lancashire Fusiliers, then transferred to the 11th (Service) Battalion with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and arrived in France on 4 June 1916. When Tolkien was serving in the Battle of the Somme it was very hard for Edith, for she feared that any knock on the door might carry news of her husbands death. In order to get around the British Army's postal censorship, Tolkien sent coded letters to Edith in order for her to track his movements on the Western Front.
- ↑ Humphrey Carpenter, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, pg. 38
- ↑ The Tolkien Family Album, pg. 27
- ↑ Humphrey Carpenter, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, pgs. 38-39
- ↑ John Garth, Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth, pg. 12
- ↑ Humphrey Carpenter, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography, pgs. 67-69)
- ↑ John Garth, Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth, pgs. 134 & 231
- ↑ John Garth, Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth, pgs. 89, 138, 147