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: JRR Tolkien trained as British spy. Il raconte comment il a refusé un temps plein pour décrypter le langage codé des allemands pendant la seconde guerre mondiale.
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Tolkien, one of his generation's most respected linguists, was ''earmarked'' to crack Nazi codes in the event that Germany declared war. Intelligence chiefs singled him and a 'cadre' of other intellectuals to work at Bletchley Park, the codebreaking centre in Buckinghamshire.
Its staff - which included Alan Turing, the gay codebreaker - would later decipher the 'impenetrable' Enigma machines. This saved Britain from German conquest by allowing the Navy to intercept and destroy Hitler's U-Boats. According to previously unseen records, Tolkien trained with the top-secret Government Code and Cypher School (GCCS).
He spent three days at their London HQ in March 1939 - six months before the outbreak of the Second World War and just 18 months after the publication of his first book, The Hobbit. But although he was ''keen'', Tolkien - a professor of English literature at Oxford University - declined a £500-a-year offer to become a full-time recruit. The reasons behind his decision are not known.
But he went on to write the Lord of the Rings trilogy, one of the most popular and influential works in 20th-Century literature. Tolkien's involvement with the war effort was revealed for the first time this week in a new exhibition at GCHQ, the new name for GCCS, the Government's spy base in Cheltenham, Glos. The display includes a number of previously unseen exhibits relating to Bletchley Park's war preparations.