Ruth Tolkien surfing

Ruth Tolkien - great granddaughter of the Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien, was born in Leicester and spent her childhood in Rutland and the RNIB school in Worcester. Born with a genetic degenerative eye condition, she is registered blind. After A-Levels, she studied Geography at Reading University before settling in York and Cornwall.


Ruth Tolkien British Fencer - Foil

Ruth Tolkien is believed to be the only blind fencer competing in sighted competitions in the UK. Her UK ranking in 2015 is 186 in the UK. After fencing for four years at Truro Fencing Club, Ruth was not only selected to fence for Cornwall in the Ladies Foil Team at a regional level at Excalibur, but went on to win her first individual medal at the Wellington Open in May 2015.

In her own words

I began lessons at Truro Fencing Club age 28 and purely out of choice began taking the British Fencing Achievement Awards in February 2013, determined to conquer all nine before by my 31st birthday!

Unaware of any other VI fencer in the UK to receive every grade, I only discovered I was the first after I had got the last one in late September 2013. An incredible birthday present! Following this, I was inspired to push further.

In May 2014 I entered my first ‘open’ competition in Wellington. Winning every fight in my first poule and in the final DE I only missed a bronze medal by seven hits. According to my coach this was “an incredible achievement even if I could see where I was going!”

Continuing to train devotedly every day at home and two nights a week at the club, including sparing and two individual lessons, the following April 2015 I was selected to fence for Cornwall in the Women’s Foil Team for Excalibur, a regional competition. An enormous honour and an utterly mind-blowing experience, I managed to win over half my bouts overall. Less than a month later I again entered the Wellington Open, and won my first medal – bronze for Women’s Foil.

In September this year, I took part in my first major individual event at the Bristol Open and honestly went not expecting to win a fight but to give it my all and for the experience of a high level event. I did, however, win one fight in the poules and the DE was certainly no knock-out! No medals this time, but there’s next year! Currently, I’m training hard for the Welsh Open in less than two weeks at the beginning of November. Following this, my next goal will be the Nationals in 2016 which I believe is the next ‘landmark for my “levelling of playing fields” in terms of the limitations of vision. En guarde!

Ruth's Music

Ruth Tolkien Singer Songwriter

Ruth Tolkien acoustic singer songwriter

Early experiences

The earliest memories I have are music-saturated! By association, everything ‘happy’ was rooted and connected to music. Perhaps the limitations of eyesight were one reason which gave music greater impact and gravity. It was and still is pure and complete escapism to me, solace even. A world I could understand emotionally and creatively where hearing rather than seeing was most important. A glorious disconnection at times from as for everyone, a painful reality especially during my late teens.
I began learning piano and reading music at the age of 4, but it wasn’t until I was 12 or 13 I unearthed and my true love and began playing guitar. In the following 13 years I completed all the grades and eventually, because of life ‘getting in the way’ I got Grade 8 classical guitar at 25.


My influences are diverse and eclectic to say the least. From childhood my music ‘education’ began mostly through my Mum in the car on the way to and from school. I was pretty much word perfect on countless Neil Diamond songs, as well as Bridge Over Troubled Water, Graceland, Rumours and Mirage by age of 5 or 6. I’d say this was where my initial grounding in particularly rhythm and a need to sing originated.
As a child I also had a deep love of the passion and expression in classical and purely instrumental music and became obsessed by the rag-time piece The Entertainer by Scott Joplin and later the minor movement of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata. After begging the school organ teacher, as my piano teacher refused to teach it to me, I’d just about nailed the Entertainer by age 8. By age 9 I’d stopped having lessons but by means of hassling again I’d got the trumpet teacher to help me learn the Beethoven piece.
At home, being the youngest the music my brother listened to also worked its way into my music-conscious. By my early teens I was utterly obsessed with Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, The Byrds, The Police and Fleetwood Mac to name the main, After hearing the ‘Hard Promises’ album at 13 not long after picking up a guitar, when I wasn’t trying to learn the scales and classical stuff for exams, all I would try to play was ‘Insider’. It ended up being the first song I ever learned to sing and play and I still believe Stevie Nicks taught me how to sing! 10 years later it was the first song I played at the first open mic’ I did.


I started writing from age 8 or 9 mostly poetry which by 12 or 13 had morphed into basic songs. Throughout my late teens was the most vivid and varied expansion of influence through friends at college and university and going to as many festivals and concerts as I could get tickets for. Amongst many others; Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marely as well as Eva Cassidy and Joni Mitchell where the most pivotal in influence.  I’m not entirely sure which genre I’d fit and honestly I try not to tick boxes. What I write is inspired greatly by personal experience, auto-biographical in the main. Admittedly it’s all more on the ‘uncomfortable’ side of life, as I like to challenge my own ‘comfort zone’ so I guess that comes across.

To contact Ruth Tolkien, please click on the ‘Get in Touch‘ tab on the menu bar.

Ruth’s Music Videos


Media Appearances

BBC Radio Cornwall

BBC Radio Cornwall

Ruth was featured on BBC Radio Cornwall Sport on Friday 2nd October 2015 and Saturday 3rd October 2015. To hear the interview, click the button below. Listen
BBC World Service Outlook with Matthew Bannister

BBC World Service Outlook

Ruth was featured on BBC World Service Outlook on Thursday 22nd October 2015. To hear the interview with Matthew Bannister, click the button below. (Interview starts at 27.00 minutes.) Listen
Bristol Community FM Radio 93.2

Bristol BCFM Radio 93.2

Ruth was featured on Bristol Community FM Radio Station on Tuesday 22nd September 2015. To hear the interview with Neil Maggs, click the button below.

Upcoming events

Ruth Tolkien acoustic singer songwriter

Private Booking – acoustic

Saturday 7th November 2015 Private Wedding - Acoustic Singer Songwriter performance. To book Ruth, please contact her below. Contact Ruth

Guitar Lessons in Cornwall

Private guitar tuition lessons in Cornwall from beginners to intermediate. To contact Ruth, please see below. Contact Ruth

Motivational Speaking

Monday 11th January 2016 Motivational Speaking Booking - Private Event To book Ruth, please contact her below. Contact Ruth
Contact Ruth

Get In Touch