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The Lord of the Rings is an epic high fantasy novel written by the British academic J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien’s earlier fantasy book, The Hobbit, and soon developed into a much larger story. It was written in stages between 1937 and 1949, with much of it being created during World War II. It was originally published in three volumes in 1954 and 1955 — much to Tolkien’s annoyance, since he had intended it to be a single volume. It has since been reprinted numerous times and translated into at least 38 languages, becoming one of the most popular works in 20th-century literature.