English author, scholar and philologist John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born on January 3, 1892, in South Africa. He was taken to England at age 3. After service in World War I, he was employed at the Oxford English Dictionary, where he worked on the history and etymology of words of Germanic origin beginning with the letter W. Later he produced A Middle English Vocabulary and a definitive edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. In 1925 he became a professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford, where he wrote The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1937-1949). His 1936 lectures on "Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics" enhanced modern understanding of the Old English epic as a dramatic poem that addresses human destiny. Tolkien detested the side effects of industrialization and disdained automobiles, preferring to ride a bicycle.