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'"How came you by it?" — Thorin
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T.C.B.S. is an acronym for Tea Club, Barrovian Society. J.R.R. Tolkien and his friends at King Edward's School in Birmingham met regularly at the Barrow Stores, which is where T.C.B.S. got their name. The core members were considered to be the "big four" of Tolkien, Geoffrey Bache Smith, Christopher Wiseman, and Robert Gilson.

The friends continued to stay in contact with each other's literary work until 1916. Sidney Barrowclough and the Payton brothers, Ralph and Wilfrid, were younger than Tolkien and continued it for some time after they left.

Almost all of them died in World War I. Of Tolkien's close personal friends, only Christopher Wiseman survived the war, a fact which greatly affected him.[1]



  1. John Garth, Tolkien and the Great War, passim.