While Elves, Dwarves, and Trolls have long been a part of mythology and fables, it was Tolkien who took them in 1954 and gave them a place in Middle-Earth that would prove to have a lasting impact on the fantasy genre like no other author could.  His work has permeated into almost all media favored by Nerds.  Certainly the work itself is something that can speak for itself, but to consider that without him and his stories, we might not have Dungeons & Dragons or even Harry Potter today. That may be a lot of importance to place on one man, but it’s hard to argue that without him, Nerdom would be drastically different.

Painting by William S. Wiist