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The Lord of the Drinks

Mine's a pint, Frodo

If you find yourself in need of an excuse to go to the pub, wait no longer. Take a stroll northwards along leafy St Giles in Oxford. Keep your eyes open for the unobtrusive frontage of the Eagle and Child pub.  
It's on the left-hand side of the street as you leave Oxford. Wander inside. Order a drink. And chalk up your visit to Literary Research. Because you have entered the favourite pub of the Inklings.  

An illustrious drinking club

Who were the Inklings? They were a group of Oxford friends and writers, including JRR Tolkien (author of Lord of the Rings) and CS Lewis (author of Narnia).
For years, the friends met in one of the tiny inner bars, at a table by a fire. There they drank, chatted and discussed their work. If you are lucky, their table may be vacant. If it is, settle down with your drink (and a copy of The Hobbit if you have one to hand) and soak up the history.

An Oxford life

Tolkien was born and brought up around Birmingham, England's second city, 70 miles to the north. He first came to Oxford as an undergraduate at Exeter college. Ever since then, his life became interwoven with Oxford.
His early years at the university were bitter-sweet. Two years before coming up to Oxford, Tolkien met and fell in love with a woman 3 years his senior. She was a Protestant, he an ardent Catholic.   

Love triumphs

While Tolkien could overlook this, his Guardian could not. He forbade Tolkien from having any contact with her until he reached the age of 21. Remarkably, Tolkien obeyed his guardian. 
On the day of his 21st birthday he wrote to Edith, his love. She had given up hope of hearing from Tolkien and had accepted a proposal of marriage. Still, they met and he won her round. They married in 1916 and remained devoted to each other to the end of their lives.

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