Hobbits are a fictional, diminutive, humanoid race who inhabit the lands of Middle-earth in J. R. R. Tolkien’s fiction.
Let’s see some facts about them!
1. They are also referred to as Halflings.
2. Hobbits first appeared in the novel The Hobbit, whose titular hobbit is the protagonist Bilbo Baggins.
3. The novel The Lord of the Rings includes as major characters the hobbits Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Peregrin Took, and Meriadoc Brandybuck, as well as several other minor hobbit characters.
4. Hobbits are also briefly mentioned in The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales.
5. According to the author in the prologue to The Lord of the Rings, hobbits are “relatives” of the race of Men. Elsewhere, Tolkien describes Hobbits as a “variety” or separate “branch” of humans.
6. 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 people.
7. 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, though by the end, some had moved out to the Tower Hills and to Gondor and Rohan.
8. Tolkien believed he had invented the word hobbit as a speculative derivation from Old English when he began writing The Hobbit (it was revealed years after his death that the word predated Tolkien’s usage, though with a different meaning).
9. 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.
10. The Snergs were, in Tolkien’s words, “a race of people only slightly taller than the average table but broad in the shoulders and have the strength of ten men.”
11. Tolkien wrote to W. H. Auden that The Marvellous Land of Snergs “was probably an unconscious source-book for the Hobbits” 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 grading a set of student essay exams, writing on a blank piece of paper: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit”.
12. While The Hobbit introduced this comfortable race to the world, it is only in writing The Lord of the Rings that Tolkien developed details of their history and wider society.
13. He set out a fictional etymology for the name in an appendix to The Lord of the Rings, to the effect that it was ultimately derived from holbytla (plural holbytlan), meaning “hole-builder” (and corresponding to Old English).
14. In the language of the Rohirrim the hobbits were called kûd-dûkan (in plural?), which had rendered the autonym kuduk.
15. In Tolkien’s first draft, Gandalf the wizard was called Bladorthin. Even more confusingly, Dwarf-leader Thorin was going to be called Gandalf. 11 Only three wizards ever appear in Tolkien’s stories – Gandalf “the grey”; Saruman “the white” and Radagast “the brown”. Radagast doesn’t actually appear in The Hobbit, but Beorn the shape-changer mentions that he has met him.
17. In 1969 Tolkien sold movie rights, plus rights to tie-in products, for The Hobbit and LoTR to United Artists for £100,000.
18. Martin Freeman had to shave his legs to make it less uncomfortable getting Bilbo’s prosthetic feet on and off. 30 James Nesbit decorated his trailer with pictures of the Northern Irish seaside, where he’s from, and a photograph of his racehorse, Riverside Theatre. There’s a picture of his kids, too.