Simon Tolkien

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Simon Tolkien
Simon Mario Reuel Tolkien

(1959-01-12) 12 January 1959 (age 63)
Alma materUniversity of Oxford
OccupationNovelist, barrister
Tracy Steinberg
(m. 1984)
Parent(s)Christopher Tolkien
Faith Faulconbridge

Simon Mario Reuel Tolkien (born 12 January 1959) is a British novelist and former barrister. He is the grandson of J. R. R. Tolkien, and the eldest child of Christopher Tolkien.


Simon was born in Oxford on 12 January 1959, the only child of Christopher Tolkien and his first wife, Faith Faulconbridge. His parents separated when he was five years old and he grew up with his mother. He was educated at the Dragon School in Oxford and then Downside School. He studied modern history at Trinity College, Oxford, after which he embarked on a fifteen-year career as a criminal lawyer. He became a barrister in 1994.

In 1984, he married Tracy Steinberg, who was born in 1962. She is Jewish.[1] Tracy owned and operated a vintage clothing store in Chelsea, London, called Steinberg & Tolkien, which shut in September 2007.[2][3][4][5] They have two children, a son Nicholas and a daughter Anna. Nicholas is a playwright and director,[6] who debuted with his first play Terezin in June 2017.[7]

Tolkien currently lives in southern California with his wife Tracy.[2]


In January 2000, he began writing fiction.[2] His first novel, which he has described as a black comedy, was not accepted for publication. His second novel, a courtroom drama, was published in the United States as The Final Witness in 2002 and in the United Kingdom as The Stepmother in 2003.[3][8][9] His second published work, The Inheritance (the first of a trilogy featuring Inspector Trave of the Oxfordshire Criminal Investigation Department), was published in 2010.[10] The second book of the Inspector Trave trilogy, The King of Diamonds, was published in 2011.[11] The third and final book in the trilogy, Orders from Berlin, was published in 2012.[12]

His 2016 novel, No Man's Land: a Novel, was published concurrent with the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme; the middle third of the novel is set in that months-long World War I battle. The novel follows the life of a poor English child and young adult (Adam Raine), beginning with episodes of labour unrest in London and on to the strikes in coal mining communities, class distinctions, and home front experiences of World War I. Simon Tolkien acknowledges that the experiences of Adam Raine only superficially resemble those faced by his grandfather (J. R. R. Tolkien) in the same large long battle of the war, but he wanted to write something that in part paid tribute to his grandfather's pivotal war experience as a young man, only a few years older than the age of the protagonist of No Man's Land.[13]

Reaction to filmed versions of J. R. R. Tolkien's works[edit]

Simon Tolkien disagreed with the policy of his grandfather's estate in regard to The Lord of the Rings films. When Christopher Tolkien issued a statement that the "Tolkien estate would be best advised to avoid any specific association with the films",[14] Simon Tolkien broke ranks, offering to cooperate with the filmmakers, stating, "It was my view that we take a much more positive line on the film and that was overruled by my father."[15] Following up a 2001 interview with the Independent, Simon in 2003 gave interviews to the Daily Telegraph and other media in which he discussed his strained relationship with his father, describing it as a permanent breach;[16] however, they subsequently reconciled.[2]

As of 2022, he is currently a consultant on the Amazon TV series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.[17]


Inspector Trave novels[edit]

  • The Inheritance (2010)
  • The King of Diamonds (2011)
  • Orders from Berlin (2012)

Other works[edit]

  • The Final Witness / The Stepmother (2002)
  • No Man's Land (2016)[13]


  1. ^ "J.R.R. Tolkien's Jewish Great-Grandson Has A Play On Terezin". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 6 June 2017. Retrieved 4 September 2022.
  2. ^ a b c d Hough, Andrew (18 November 2012). "Simon Tolkien: J R R Tolkien's grandson admits Lord of the Rings trauma". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 15 December 2012.
  3. ^ a b Drout, Michael D. C. (6 November 2006). J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia. ISBN 1135880344.
  4. ^ David Thomas (24 February 2003). "A leaf torn from the family tree". The Daily Telegraph.
  5. ^ Susanna Lau (4 August 2007). "The Classic Fat Cat Tale". Retrieved 16 December 2014.
  6. ^ Sandy Brawarsky (6 June 2017). "J.R.R. Tolkien's Jewish Great-Grandson Has A Play On Terezin". The Times of Israel.
  7. ^ Michael Kaminer (26 June 2017). "A Tolkien Takes on the Holocaust". The Forward.
  8. ^ "Simon Tolkien". BBC News. 17 December 2003. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  9. ^ Flynn, Gillian (17 December 2003). "Final Witness". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  10. ^ "From Mordor to murder: Another Tolkien hits the books" – via tribunedigital-chicagotribune.
  11. ^ "Book review: The King of Diamonds, by Simon Tolkien". The Dallas Morning News.
  12. ^ "Fiction Book Review: Orders from Berlin by Simon Tolkien". Publishers Weekly.
  13. ^ a b Flood, Alison (1 July 2016). "JRR Tolkien's war experiences inspire novel by his grandson". The Guardian.
  14. ^ Duncan, Hugo (9 December 2003). "From Mold to Middle Earth". Daily Post. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  15. ^ Susman, Gary (10 December 2001). "Tolkien Opposition". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 18 July 2009.
  16. ^ Thomas, David (24 February 2003). "J R R Tolkien's grandson 'cut off from literary inheritance'". The Sunday Telegraph. Retrieved 23 April 2010.
  17. ^ Coggan, Devan (19 July 2022). "How Simon Tolkien helped guide The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 19 July 2022.

External links[edit]