Hobbit

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Hobbits are a fictional diminutive race in J. R. R. Tolkien's legendarium who inhabit the lands of Middle-earth.

Hobbits first appeared in the novel, The Hobbit, in which the main protagonist, Bilbo Baggins, is the titular hobbit. The novel, The Lord of the Rings, includes more Hobbits as major characters; Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Peregrin Took and Meriadoc Brandybuck as well as several other minor hobbit characters. Hobbits are also briefly mentioned in The Silmarillion.

According to the author in the prologue to The Lord of the Rings, Hobbits are "relatives"[1] of the race of Men. Elsewhere Tolkien describes Hobbits as a "variety"[2] or separate "branch"[3] of humans. Within the story, Hobbits and other races seem aware of the similarities (hence the colloquial terms "Big People" and "Little People" used in Bree). However, within the story, Hobbits considered themselves a separate race, especially personality-wise.[4] At the time of the events in The Lord of the Rings, Hobbits lived in the Shire and in Bree in the north west of Middle-earth.

Contents

Development

Tolkien believed he had invented the word "hobbit" when he began writing The Hobbit (Though it was revealed years after his death that the word pre-dated Tolkien's usage, though with a different meaning).[5] He later set out a fictional etymology for the name, to the effect that it was being derived from the word "Holbytla" which translates "hole-dweller" in Old English, which appears as the tongue of the fictional Rohirrim in the books.[citation needed] Tolkien's concept of hobbits, in turn, seems to have been inspired by Edward Wyke Smith's 1927 children's book The Marvellous Land of Snergs, and by Sinclair Lewis's 1922 novel Babbitt. The Snergs were, in Tolkien's words, "a race of people only slightly taller than the average table but broad in the shoulders and of great strength."[6] Tolkien wrote to W. H. Auden that The Marvellous Land of Snergs "was probably an unconscious source-book for the Hobbits"[5] and he told an interviewer that the word hobbit "might have been associated with Sinclair Lewis's Babbitt" (like hobbits, George Babbitt enjoys the comforts of his home). However, Tolkien claims that he started The Hobbit suddenly, without premeditation, in the midst of rating a set of student essay exams, writing on a blank piece of paper: "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit".[7] While The Hobbit introduced this race of comfortable homebodies to the world, it is only in writing The Lord of the Rings that Tolkien developed details of their history and wider society.

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