Was Ethiopia the inspiration for Middle-earth in the Lord of the Rings trilogy? That’s what a several writers and LOTR bloggers seem to think. Their theory is based on the fact that so many of the place names on the classic fantasy series by J.R.R. Tolkien are remarkably similar to Ethiopian place names – the fictional Gondor and the real-life Gondar, Rohan and Roha, Harad and Harar, Barad-dûr and Bahir Dar.
Although Tolkien never visited Ethiopia, other facts bolsters the theory that at least some of LOTR was inspired by the Horn of Africa. For one thing, Tolkien was a native African – born in Bloemfontein in South Africa’s Orange Free State in 1892. And he began writing the first book shortly after Italy’s controversial invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. So even though the author lived in England at the time he wrote the books, without doubt Africa was part of his heritage and his psyche.
Read more about the theory in The Real Middle-earth: Discovering the Origin of The Lord of the Rings, a book by Michael Muhling. You can also find discussions about the theory at these links:Ethiopia, Lord of the Rings, Middle Earth, Middle Kingdom, Tolkein