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J.R.R. Tolkien's fantastical works have served as inspiration to painters, musicians, filmmakers, and writers to an extent that Tolkien is sometimes seen as the "father" of the entire genre of high fantasy. The production of such derivative works is sometimes of doubtful legality, because Tolkien's published works will remain copyrighted until 2043. The film, stage and merchandise rights of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are owned by Middle-earth Enterprises, a division of the Saul Zaentz Company, while the rights of The Silmarillion and other material remain with The J.R.R. Tolkien Estate Ltd, a company owned by Tolkien's heirs.


Tolkien himself created the earliest illustrations of his works. In 1937, professional draughtsmen for the American edition first illustrated The Hobbit. Tolkien was very critical of the results, and in 1946 he rejected illustrations by Horus Engels for the German edition of The Hobbit as "too Disnified". Milein Cosman illustrated Farmer Giles of Ham in 1948, and Tolkien was not happy with this work, either. In 1949, Pauline Baynes, who became Tolkien’s favourite illustrator and who created drawings for The Adventures of Tom Bombadil as well as for Farmer Giles of Ham, replaced Cosman. Queen Margrethe II of Denmark was inspired to illustrate The Lord of the Rings in the early 1970's. She sent them to Tolkien, who was struck by the similarity to the style of his own drawings. In 1977, Queen Margrethe's drawings were published in the Danish translation of the book, redrawn by the British artist Eric Fraser.

Probably the widest-known Tolkien illustrators of the 1990's and 2000's are John Howe, Alan Lee, and Ted Nasmith; Alan Lee for illustrated editions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, Ted Nasmith for illustrated editions of The Silmarillion, and John Howe for the cover artwork to several Tolkien publications. (Howe and Lee were also involved in the creation of Peter Jackson's movie trilogy as concept artists. Nasmith was also invited to take part in the films, but was forced to reluctantly decline due to a personal crisis at the time.)

Artists who have found inspiration in Tolkien's works include:


Donald Swann set music to The Road Goes Ever On, a collection of Tolkien's lyrics and poems.

The Tolkien Ensemble published four CDs from 1997 to 2005 with the aim to create "the worlds first complete musical interpretation of the poems and songs from The Lord of the Rings". The project was given approval by both the Tolkien family and HarperCollins Publishers. Queen Margarethe II of Denmark gave permission to use her illustrations in the CD layout.

"The Hobbitons" released a CD in 1996 with song versions of poems from The Hobbit and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.

Other musicians inspired by Tolkien include David Arkenstone, Blind Guardian, Bo Hansson, and Led Zeppelin ("The Battle of Evermore," "Ramble On", Piano Guys [1], The Rotterdam philharmonic orchestra (performance with live orchestra ,choir and movie in  "De Doelen" in Rotterdam) and others.

Canadian Rock Composer and Drummer as well as Story Teller Neil Peart has based many of his classic lyrics on Tolkien, but the same is with Ayn Rand.

Johan de Meij’s first symphony “The Lord of the Rings” is based on the trilogy. The symphony consists of five separate movements, each illustrating a personage or an important episode from the series. The symphony was written in the period between March 1984 and December 1987, and had its première in Brussels on 15th March 1988.
The movements are:
I. GANDALF (The Wizard)
II. LOTHLORIEN (The Elvenwood)
III. GOLLUM (Sméagol)
a. The Mines of Moria
b. The Bridge of Khazad-Dûm

It is speculated that British rock band Led Zeppelin may have been influenced by The Lord of the Rings trilogy in their song The Battle of Evermore. In the song, there is a direct use of the word "ringwraiths."

Howard Shore composed the Soundtracks of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy.

The Loss and the Silence, a string quartet by Ezequiel Viñao (inspired by the story of Aragorn and Arwen.) The piece was commissioned for the 100th anniversary of the Juilliard School and was premiered by the Juilliard String Quartet.

The German power metal band Blind Guardian released their defining album "Nightfall in Middle-Earth" in 1998. The album is a collection of songs with short dramatic interludes that follows the plot and story of The Silmarillion, blending classic German power metal with classical and folk music.

Several black metal bands were inspired by the universe:

The band Burzum's mastermind changed his name from Kristian to Varg Vikernes, and the band itself was previously called Uruk-Hai. "Burzum" in black speech means "darkness", the frontman states.

The project called Summoning uses a waist amount of Tolkien relations, having song names such as Saruman and Orthanc and an album called Minas Morgul.

Other (not only) black metal bands often use a name borrowed from the LOTR universe.


Tolkien originally sold the film, stage and merchandise rights of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to United Artists in 1968, but they never made a film, and in 1976 the rights were sold to Tolkien Enterprises, a division of the Saul Zaentz Company.

In the early seventies John Boorman was planning a film of The Lord of the Rings, but the plans never went further because of movie studio politics. Some of the work done was resurrected for the film Excalibur in 1981.

Ralph Bakshi directed an animated movie adaptation of The Lord of the Rings in 1978 (partly made with the rotoscope technique), which covered only the first half of The Lord of the Rings. Rankin-Bass covered the second half with a children's TV animation The Return of the King in 1980; they had earlier made a TV animation of The Hobbit in 1977.

The Lord of the Rings was adapted as a trilogy of films from 2001 - 03, directed by Peter Jackson.

The split of Tolkien's works between Middle-earth Enterprises and the Tolkien Estate means that none of the Tolkien Enterprises' products can include source material from outside The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and therefore a film or stage version of The Silmarillion is highly unlikely.


Some people, after reading Tolkien's masterpiece, have even attempted to learn to write in Elvish. This unusual and interesting language has inspired many to learn to write and read it as well.


Many authors have found inspiration in Tolkien's work as well. Following the success of The Hobbit and the rest of the trilogy in the 1960's, publishers were quick to try to meet a new demand for literate fantasy in the American marketplace. Ballantine, under the direction of editor Lin Carter, published public domain and relatively obscure works under the banner of the Ballantine Adult Fantasy. Lester Del Rey, however, sought for new books that would mirror Tolkien's work, and published Terry Brooks's The Sword of Shannara (accused at the time of direct plagiarism of Tolkien's trilogy) and Stephen Donaldson's "Chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever." Nick Perumov created sequel stories about Middle-earth. Throughout the next two decades, the term fantasy became synonymous with the general aspects of Tolkien's work: multiple races including dwarves and elves, a quest to destroy a magical artifact, and an evil that seeks to control the world. The plot of novelist Pat Murphy's There and Back Again mirrors that of The Hobbit, but is transposed into a science fiction setting involving space travel. George R. R. Martin was another who found inspiration in J. R. R. Tolkien's work, creating the epic saga of A Song of Ice and Fire. Tolkien's fantasy epic has also inspired manga artists in Japan including but not limiting Kentaro Miura of Berserk and Hiro Mashima of Fairy Tail; both of which have stated in interviews that The Lord of the Rings was one of the primary inspirations for them in creating their respected series. Other notable authors influenced by J. R. R. Tolkien include Ursula K. Le Guin of Earthsea fame, J. K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame and Christopher Paolini, the author of the Eragon series. It is widely believed that the fantasy genre was heralded by J. R. R. Tolkien and every other fantasy work since his work have some or the other aspects influenced by him. This may extend to some non-fantasy works also.


Probably the best-known parody of Tolkien is Bored of the Rings (1968) along with its sequels, The Soddit (2003) and The Sellamillion (2004). More websites, books, and other works that parody The Lord of the Rings  can be found at The Lord of the Rings in pop culture.


Some people were inspired to compose poems in Quenya or Sindarin, the two most developed of Tolkien's created languages. For example, Helge Fauskanger translated the first two chapters of Genesis into Quenya. Tyalië Tyelelliéva is a journal dedicated to poems in the Elvish languages.


Main article: Tolkien research

Tolkien has also been the subject of a number of academic works. Vinyar Tengwar and Parma Eldalamberon are journals focusing on linguistic study of Tolkien's works.

External link: A Bibliography of Scholarly Studies of J. R. R. Tolkien and His Works by Michael D.C. Drout


Many computer games, and role-playing games such as MERP (Middle-earth Role-playing) have been created.

The creators of the Dungeons and Dragons role-playing game were also strongly influenced by Tolkien. The game has (clearly Tolkien-influenced) dwarves and elves as playable characters, and formerly had hobbits as well. After being threatened with a lawsuit by the Tolkien estate, they replaced hobbits with the similar "halflings" - a term also used in The Lord of the Rings. In most versions of the game, halflings were especially good at being thieves/rogues, a nod to Bilbo the burglar in The Hobbit. The Kender of Krynn (from the Dragonlance Campaign setting) are again essentially renamed hobbits.

It is clearly evident that the famous Warcraft series is greatly inspired by LOTR.

Equally common is the use of the term orc for a variety of hobgoblin type creatures in later fantasy although Tolkien created this modern usage of the word. Even more removed genre games such as Shadowrun and Warhammer 40,000 use the term, therein spelt Ork, possibly to sidestep possible legal issues.

The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion has many things which are influenced by Tolkien's works, such as the way the Deadra resemble orcs and White gold tower resembles Orthanc. A quest called Unfriendly competition had served as a main source of the shout outs to The Lord of The Rings. Also, Sean Bean was the voice actor for Martin Septim.

Runescape, a middle age game, also has many things which are influenced by Tolkien's work. For example, Runescape has a helmet called slayer helmet that resembles the helmet worn by Sauron from the film. Also in Runescape a Character name the wise old man says to the player "raise the army of undead soldiers" is reference to The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King, when Elrond (in the movie) or Gandalf (in the book) tells Aragorn he must summon an Army of the Dead.

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