On January 3, 1892, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein in the Orange Free State (now Free State Province in South Africa) to Arthur Reuel Tolkien and his wife, Mabel, née Suffield. The image above shows the Tolkien family's 1892 Christmas card, sent by Mabel to her family in Birmingham, England on November 15, 1892.
J. R. R. Tolkien became a major scholar of the English language, specializing in Old and Middle English. He was a professor at the University of Oxford for years, but became famous as the author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. The success of these stories led to a popular resurgence of the fantasy genre. In honor of Tolkien's birthday today, you may wish to check out or request one of his books or a movie based on his writings or read a biographical sketch on the website of the Tolkien Society.