Although the books are magical fantasy, they are beloved by many medievalists because of their rich alternate-world realism with mythology loosely drawn from ancient cultures in the real world.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was a native of Bloemfontein, South Africa, the son of English expatriates. He returned with his mother and younger brother to England at the age of three. Later, Tolkien would attend Exeter College in Oxford, and he eventually became a professor of Anglo-Saxon history at Oxford University and helped create the Oxford English Dictionary.
The article linked below has other interesting Tolkien biographical information and trivia about his life.