John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, the author of the fantasy classic The Lord of the Rings, was born in South Africa and grew up in the Birmingham (then Worcestershire) village of Sarehole. He lived here with his widowed mother for a few years beginning in 1896, and the rural area later helped inspire the vision behind his landmark fantasy world, Middle-earth.
Near young Tolkien’s childhood home was Moseley Bog, a local nature reserve rich in wildlife, which he later described as a “kind of lost paradise.” It is made up of woodland both wet and dry, together with patches of fen vegetation that developed on the site of an old millpond. There are also two Bronze Age burnt mounds in the area, which are designated as scheduled monuments.
It is believed that Moseley Bog was one of the major inspirations behind the Shire, home of the hobbits, as well as the ancient forests of Middle-earth. Nearby Sarehole Mill, which Moseley Bog used to feed as a reservoir, also appears in The Lord of the Rings, as a location in Hobbiton.