Simonne RTO d’Ardenne was a medieval philologist who studied under Tolkien during the 1930s in Oxford. She later became the Professor of English at the University of Liège in Belgium. One of her collaborative projects with Tolkien was her work on The Life and Passion of St. Juliene, a work Tolkien’s favourite West Midland dialect.
The village where she lived in Belgium with her elderly father was occupied by German troops during the war. Simonne took great risks helping Allied Servicemen to escape, once driving an RAF man, disguised as a peasant, through the village in her horse and cart. While they were confronted by the SS, they were assumed to be locals, and were not stopped.
After the start of the war, they heard nothing from her or about her until 1943, when the Tolkiens received a letter from the International Red Cross saying that Simonne and her family were well.
After the war, in the 1950s, Tolkien visited Simonne at her home – which had originally been her family’s hunting lodge in the days of their aristocratic wealth – in the Ardennes.
She continued to correspond with the Tolkiens up until her death in 1986. She was particularly close to Priscilla, and entrusted her with a great bundle of letters that she had received from Tolkien over a period of forty years.