One of the most often repeated pieces of advice any writer will hear is "Write what you know," and many of the most respected authors in history have done exactly that: Joseph Conrad knew a lot about watching friends die in a river in the middle of the jungle, Dr. Dre knows a lot about smoking weed every day, and so on. However, we tend to forget that sometimes writers just make shit up that has nothing to do with their real lives, and as a result we have an image of them that directly contradicts their actual personality.
For instance, if you only know them from their work, you'd never guess that ...
J.R.R. Tolkien Hated His Hippie Fans
What We Know Him For:
Long before The Lord of the Rings series became 20 hours' worth of blockbuster films, the book trilogy was massively popular with 1960s hippies and flower children, who enjoyed the books' back-to-nature vibe and the fact that the characters are never described washing.
Look, he's laughing his ass off -- there has to be weed in that pipe.
Since then, neo-pagans and new-age types have continued to embrace the Middle-earth mythology to varying degrees of insanity. There's even a religious group called the Elvin Holy Order of Mother Earth that runs the nerdiest sounding celebrations ever at their "sanctuary" in Indiana. This isn't surprising: After all, Tolkien even came up with his own set of gods, the Lords and Ladies of the Valar, which the characters in his books constantly pray and talk to.
But In Real Life ...
J.R.R. Tolkien was a Catholic. And not just a "go to church twice a year" Catholic, but a hardcore one who was so conservative that he reacted to changes in church services in the 1960s by storming out of the building. And Tolkien described Lord of the Rings as a fundamentally Catholic work.
New Line Cinema
"And lo did he return three acts later."
Those Valar dudes? They're not gods, he said: They're more like angels, and anyone who thinks otherwise is dumb. According to him, pagan religions were "ultimately hopeless and futile," and his hippie fans were a "deplorable cultus" -- granted, this hostility might have been influenced by the fact that American fans repeatedly called Tolkien in the middle of the night to spout drug-fuelled ramblings about how they were at one with Tom Bombadil.