Family healed as author steps out of Middle Earth's shadow

Weighty legacy … the Hollywood adaptation of <i>The Lord of the Rings</i>.
Weighty legacy … the Hollywood adaptation of The Lord of the Rings.

THE grandson of the novelist J.R.R. Tolkien has disclosed how the Lord of the Rings films tore his family apart and provoked a feud with his father.

Simon Tolkien admitted for the first time how the immense popularity of Peter Jackson's Hollywood adaptations damaged his family in what was akin to being ''hit by a juggernaut''.

The former barrister, now himself a successful novelist, said he began to lose sight of his identity and became ''suffocated'' by being known as J.R.R. Tolkien's grandson.

The problems also provoked an ''incredibly, dreadfully painful'' feud with his father, Christopher, so bad they stopped speaking.

His son also got bullied at school. He writes in London's Daily Telegraph: ''Maybe some people assumed it was about money … I don't know.

''In hindsight, I think all of my anger was being driven by this feeling that I was trapped. All I was ever going to be was the grandson of a very famous writer.''

He said he managed to turn his life around, thanks in part to his wife, Tracy, with whom he now lives in California.

While his grandfather died in 1973, his 87-year-old father is still alive and the pair have since ''sorted out all our differences''.

He dedicates his latest book to his father, adding: ''I guess I just feel lucky that I got the chance to put things right with my dad.

''But I'm grateful that he took the time to read my books and tell me that he liked them.

''The arrival of a Tolkien blockbuster no longer fills me with the trepidation it once did. I won't be getting another sideswipe from the juggernaut.''

His wife said it was traumatic watching her husband ''shrinking away''.

''He knows he's never going to be as famous as his grandfather, or sell as many books, but at least he feels he's achieved something on his own terms.''

Telegraph, London

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey is out on December 26.

This story Family healed as author steps out of Middle Earth's shadow first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.