One day in the early 1930s in England, a university professor was correcting some School Certificate papers. The task was a boring one. He got distracted, picked up a blank piece of paper, and scribbled the following sentence: “In a hole in the ground there lived a [hero].” The original sentence, of course, named the hero explicitly but for those of you who don't recognize the sentence, I will conceal the hero's identity for now.

In a couple of years the sentence was developed into a book, which was published by George Allen & Unwin, Ltd. of London in 1937. The critical acclaim was almost unanimous; the book was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune. The publishers demanded a sequel, which took some years to complete, but eventually was published in 1954. It became one of the best-selling books of the 20th century and made it to first place in the BBC's Top 100 books. The screen adaptation became one of the most financially successful movie projects in history (currently the fifth highest-grossing series of all times) and won 17 out of the 30 Academy Awards it was nominated for. The missing word from that opening line, of course, is hobbit. It all started with a hero.

NOTE There's a slight problem with the word hero; some people think it's too male-centered and that the image of the hero is one of a warrior. Let me assure you that this is not my vision, for me Juliette is as much of a hero as Romeo.

Believe it or ...

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