Dunning grew up in Tipperary, Ireland. He was educated at Castleknock College before earning a masters and, in 1939, a doctorate from University College, Dublin. He was also ordained a priest in 1939 in the Congregatio Missionis. He was elected a member of the Royal Irish Academy in 1954.
In October 1953 the Applications Committee at Merton College appointed Tolkien to be Dunning's supervisor for his thesis on early English homiletic literature. Tolkien served in that capacity until early December of 1953 when he was replaced by J.A.W. Bennett, a fellow professor at the college and also a fellow member of The Inklings.
On 30 May 2013, Bloomsbury House in London auctioned off a first edition, autographed, three-volume set of The Lord of the Rings with ink ownership inscriptions identifying it as belonging to "T. P. Dunning". Tolkien had inscribed a Quenya sentence — a variation on a phrase occuring in Galadriel's Lament — in The Fellowship of the Ring: "Sí man i·yulmar men enquantuva?". This phrase translates, "Now who shall fill my cup for me?" In the The Two Towers, Tolkien had inscribed, "Come back to me and say my land is fair" which is a variation of a line from The Ent and Ent-wife Song in "Treebeard". In the The Return of the King, Tolkien inscribed, "Sing, be glad all ye children of the West / for your King shall come again" which is a variation of two lines from The Eagle's Song in "The Steward and the King". According to the auctioneers, these autographed quotations "appear to relate to Dunning's departure for Ireland (a country for which Tolkien's love is well documented) and give an indication of the close friendship between both men." The three-volume set sold for a price of £36,000 (£44,640 with associated fees).
 Bibliography, selected
- 1962: English and Medieval Studies Presented to J.R.R. Tolkien on the Occasion of his Seventieth Birthday
- "God and Man in Troilus and Criseyde"
 See also
- ↑ "Father Dunning to Speak" in University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's The Daily Tar Heel, Tuesday, April 4, 1967, page 6.
- ↑ Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (2006), The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: I. Chronology, pp. 390, 418.
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Carl F. Hostetter, "Re: Quenya inscription: "Sí man i·yulmar men enquantuva?"" dated 13 May 2013, Lambengolmor mailing list (accessed 18 May 2013)
- ↑ Bloomsbury Auctions, "Lot No. 390, Important Books & Manuscripts - 30th Anniversary Sale", Bloomsbury Auction House, London (accessed 24 December 2015)