The Lord of the Rings is an epic high fantasy novel written by English philologist J. R. R. Tolkien. The story began as a sequel to Tolkien's earlier, less complex children's fantasy novel The Hobbit (1937), but eventually developed into a much larger work. It was written in stages between 1937 and 1949, much of it during World War II. Although intended as a single-volume work, it was originally published in three volumes in 1954 and 1955, due to post-war paper shortages, and it is in this three-volume form that it is popularly known. It has since been reprinted numerous times and translated into many different languages, becoming one of the most popular and influential works in 20th-century literature.