Young Tolkien (also known as “Tollers” by his close friends) endured much as a little boy, including the death of his father, Arthur. His childhood days in South Africa did not leave too many impressionable moments in his mind, but a few of the incidents remind us of some of the well-known scenes in hisTrilogy.
In one of the few stories remembered by a grown Tolkien, he recalls how as he was beginning to walk he stumbled into a tarantula. It bit him, and he ran in terror across the garden until the nurse snatched him up and sucked out the poison. Tolkien later observed that the incident left him “with no special dislike of spiders.” But as his biographer, Humphrey Carpenter observed: “In his stories he wrote more than once of monstrous spiders with venomous bites.”