Bill Painter of Harrisonburg explains his 40+ year fascination with The Lord of the Rings and with the Middle Earth backstory.
There’s a lot of Middle Earth history eluded to in The Lord of the Rings that is detailed in Tolkien’s earlier writings on the history of Middle Earth. Bill gives a two minute history of one of these places, the Island of Númenor on this "Web Extra" page.
Bill teaches a Lifelong Learning Institute class (info link --scroll down to #F13A13) at JMU. The course description says attendees will also "see how this work of fiction is able to inform and inspire us for life in our time and place."