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Tolkienology Chapter 6: Middle Earth Could've Beens Part 1: Bag End to Buckland


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#1 richsabre

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 06:07 AM

Hello and welcome to Chapter 6- Middle Earth Could’ve beens Part 1- Bag end to Buckland. I would like to start by thanking all those who have given their support and convinced me to continue on. As usual I warmly welcome comments/discussion however please don’t feel obliged to just to keep these going, as I will do them anyways now I know I have a continuing reader base (though the more interest the better!).

So onto topic. I have currently been reading the history series of middle earth. Now the term ‘history’ may be a little misleading here. This series is not based on the history of middle earth, but on the history of Tolkien’s writings- the outtakes if you will. It never fails to fascinate me when I discover some new, obscure part of Tolkien lore, and this series is jam-packed full of it. I think I will do several of these ‘could have beens’ as there is just so much to write about, so this will be part 1, and will focus on the very first draft of what would become the first book of the fellowship. The journey from Bag End to Buckland. Enjoy.

1. An Unexpected Party
2. Three’s Company, Four’s More
3. The Un-used Prologue
4. To Maggot’s Farm and Buckland


An Unexpected Party


When Tolkien set about writing a follow up to The Hobbit, he was at first hesitant, as he truly believed he had used all his good material on The Hobbit itself (oh how wrong he was!). So, it came to be, that when he began writing, he had absolutely no idea where it was heading. The first and most obvious road to take, was to make a ‘Hobbit 2.0’ – pretty much what it sounds like, a light-hearted adventure with some hobbits, some bad guys, and some treasure. So this was what Tolkien set out to write.

(1) The very first thing Tolkien wrote of our epic tale was When M. However this was immediately crossed out, and followed with When Bilbo. This was part of the chapter entitled ‘A Long Expected Party’ which was to remain in the final draft, however as you are about to find out, that’s where the similarities ended.

Bilbo was celebrating his 70th birthday (the elements of the ring being anything other than a magic ring was not yet present, and therefore Bilbo wasn’t ‘well preserved’ and therefore younger than 111 in the final draft), and the party pretty much goes as expected- there is dinner, a speech with the famous ‘I don’t like you half as well as I should like’ and also the ‘Proudfeet!’ however it ends rather abruptly when Bilbo announces he is off to get married! And as Tolkien writes- ‘that’s that.’ It was merely an explanation that Bilbo went off to get married, as Tolkien intended to tell a story about one of Bilbo’s descendants (not Frodo- he was long from existence yet).

However this was not the end of Bilbo in this draft. The story goes on to explain that the marriage was merely an excuse for Bilbo to leave The Shire. The real reason was that he had ran out of his treasure hoard, and the lust for dragon gold was upon him. So how does the story progress from here? Well it doesn’t. This is where the first draft of the story ends. However we know 2 things here. 1. the story had to involve some of Bilbo’s descendants and 2. Bilbo was off adventuring. The draft ends by stating that Bilbo had most certainly not said goodbye to everyone. So therefore we can assume that the story would have progressed (if Tolkien had left this draft as it is) to Bilbo joining one or more of his descendants and going off in search for dragon gold.

That is the first draft. As you can see Tolkien had no clue yet of the rings of power, or the hunt for the ring, or even the ring’s significance. The follow up to The Hobbit was going to be just an adventure like its predecessor.

(2) The second draft of A Long Expected Party follows a similar strain of narrative, however we are introduced to Gandalf who is present at the farewell party. However there is one very important addition here. During the speech Bilbo says that he is here to celebrate OUR birthdays, that being his and his father’s. This seems a little odd, why should Bilbo talk about his dead father in such a way? However we can take from this that Tolkien added this part to the draft later on, and it was not actually Bilbo saying this anymore, but Bilbo’s son- Bingo. Therefore it is Bingo who is having the farewell party, in honour of his father Bilbo.

The change in the story’s main character here was due to Tolkien stating at the end of The Hobbit, that Bilbo lived happily to the end of his days. So how could Tolkien contradict this with sending him back out into the wilds? Therefore the creation of a son came about.


Note 1: There are some notes here that were obviously Tolkien’s ideas on what was to come before he discarded the idea of Bilbo being a central character. Of particular interest is the fact that Bilbo goes off into the east in search for treasure with 3 nephews- Odo, Drogo and Frodo (not the same as THE Frodo). They all travel to Rivendell and Bilbo asks Elrond how he is to cure his treasure cravings, and Elrond tells him of an island (Britain? pencilled in) far west where the elves still reign, and a perilous journey occurs. There is also a very interesting, but discarded idea of a dragon attack on Hobbiton!!


(3) The third draft takes Bingo fully into the story, and it is he who disappears and leaves gifts to all the hobbits. It is also kept that Bingo had ran out of money and craved adventure.

(4) The fourth draft makes a major change to the chapter- that Bingo Baggins becomes Bingo Bolger-Baggins, and is Bilbo’s nephew not son.

Note 2: In reference to note 1, there are pencilled ideas on the revere on the page, some of which are Bingo goes to find his father and The ring…whence its origin. Necromancer? Not very dangerous when used for a good purpose. But exacts its penalty. You must either lose it or yourself. This is a very interesting passage as it is the first appearance of the idea in Tolkien’s mind that the ring comes with a great price, and that it latched itself onto the bearer. There was of course no real idea why, just that it had evil origins. Tolkien also had the early idea of The Old Forest, and the capture by the Willow Man, and Barrow Wights and the rescue by Tom Bombadil (all of which already existed before the time of writing LOTR).

So….the story so far, is that Bingo Bolger-Baggins, Bilbo’s nephew, is setting out on an adventure to Rivendell, possibly to find Bilbo, possibly to find treasure, along with two companions- Odo Took and Frodo Took (again not THE Frodo).


Three’s company, four’s more


(1) The first draft pretty much sets out as expected, Bingo, Odo and Frodo are setting out for Rivendell, however they must first pick up another hobbit, called Marmaduke in Buckland, and then continue on out of The Shire. It is here that something of great significance happens – the emergence of a rider on the road, however interestingly it is not at first a Black Rider, as per the final draft, but is Gandalf who turns up, hooded and cloaked. More interesting is the fact that even though the rider was Gandalf, the cloaked figure still stopped and sniffed. This is just one of many examples of Tolkien’s habit of writing material, then changing the entire meaning of what he wrote, but still managing to incorporate the little details of the draft.

It is here however that this draft ends, most likely as Tolkien discarded the idea of Gandalf appearing as soon as he wrote it.

(2) The second draft continues much as the first until the point of the rider. It is here that the first real encounter is made with a Black Rider, though at this point neither the reader nor Tolkien knew what they were. After the rider moves on, Frodo Took explains how he has seen one before, last spring, asking for Baggins, so we can see that in this draft the hunt for Bilbo/Bingo started much earlier than the final draft.

After this the text moves on swiftly until the meeting with Gildor, who takes them into his company for the night for fear of the riders returning. During the conversation with Bingo and Gildor, it is first hinted that the ring helps the riders locate the wearer rather than disguise them, and this is obviously kept throughout the final draft.

Note 3: There is a manuscript in regards to this conversation, however Gildor is not yet named, and the conversation merely takes part between Bingo and ‘they’ (elves most likely). It is an extremely important passage, as it is the first appearance of many elements, notably the first mention of ‘The Lord of the Ring’ (note - singular).

The passage is basically an account of what the ring and black riders are. The speaker says that there were many rings made and given out, many to the elves who became Elf-Wraiths (note that elves were not immune here, but the dark lord still couldn’t control them), goblins got many (goblin ring bearers!!!) and the dwarves didn’t get any. It is also here noted that Gollum was a ring bearer most like a hobbit than any other race. Now at some point (probably before Bombadil passage but after Maraduke appearance) Tolkien took this passage and decided that it was not fit to have Gildor say such things of importance to Bingo, but that it should be reserved for Gandalf himself, and it is through this that the following comes about.

The Un-used Prologue

This is obviously what became chapter II – Shadow of the Past, however Tolkien first used it for a forward to the book. It is something I am very fond of, and would have loved for something similar to be incorporated….though it would inevitably mean changing the entire book.

It begins with Gandalf and Bingo sitting by the fire in Bag End. Gandalf is explaining the importance of the ring to him, that the dark lord handed out rings to elves, dwarves, goblins and men, and all were retuned save one. It fell from the hand of an elf as he swam across a river fleeing the old wars (ie Isildur), and was later picked up by Gollum, and then onto Bilbo. Gandalf explains how one cannot merely throw the rings away, and can only be rid of it by either handing the curse to someone else, surrendering it to the dark lord, or casting it into the fiery mountain. (mount doom)

Gandalf advises that the ring must be made a light hearted matter, as using it for anything else ends in evil, therefore he advises Bingo to make his disappearance a huge joke. The forward ends with Bingo rocking in laughter as Gandalf tells him the plan to disappear at the party.

It is interesting to note that during the time of writing Tolkien was working alongside an earlier draft of The Hobbit, where Gollum wants rid of the ring and wishes to give it to someone else. In this draft of The Hobbit, Gollum willingly helps Bilbo out of the caverns, and his mission of freeing himself from the ring is complete. This was all changed in the later draft as Gollum loses the ring to Bilbo but wants it back.

It is therefore in the forward just shown, that Gollum used the ‘give the problem to someone else’ strategy, however this must be taken into context with the early draft of The Hobbit, not the present day copy as it wont make any sense.

To Maggot’s Farm and Buckland

This chapter happens with little events, a rider is seen on a hill top as per the final draft, the hobbits stop to see Maggot, and then onto meeting Marmaduke, and the catch up in what is pretty much Crickhollow. The four companions decide to travel through The Old Forest the morning after.

Note 4: In a letter to Charles Furth at Allen and Unwin (publisher) dated 24th July 1938, Tolkien wrote that the Hobbit sequel had come to a halt, and had lost his ‘favour.’ He stated that the sequel was destined to become thinner and repetitive. He lastly says that his mind is too much occupied with the Silmarillion and that he doesn’t see how he can move outside its limitations.

However on the 31st August he wrote again saying that the story was flowing along nicely and getting quite out of hand………..

Well I think that’s a nice place to end it there. As you can see the story as it stands has many similarities to their corresponding chapters in the final draft, however the story as a whole is still miles away from being developed, still swinging more to the Hobbit end of the spectrum than the Trilogy. Though as the narrative progresses we get more and more hints and the epic scale to come. So what exactly is getting out of hand??

Well tune in for the next part to find out, which will focus on The Old Forest To Rivendell.

RICH
 


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#2 Cotillion37

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 06:19 AM

Thanks for doing this! I've been meaning to read the History series, but haven't been able to find the books anywhere for a reasonable price.



#3 richsabre

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 06:23 AM

cheers man, im building up my collection via amazon 2nd hand, managed to get the 6 and 7 for £2.80 each with free next day shipping with a free trial of amazon prime

 

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#4 Ted Sandyman

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 08:36 AM

Well done again mate, thanks for taking the time to do another chapter in your series. There are so many threads concerning the books which make it the masterpiece it is.  Cheers



#5 richsabre

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 08:43 AM

cheers ted

 

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#6 Angus Lee

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 02:03 PM

While I enjoy reading this chapter, I find myself less interested in the what could have beens.  Maybe it's due to I'm not knowledgable enough about what have been!

Since we have already a chapter about Men and a chapter about Orcs, I look forward to a chapter about Elves (there are so many terms: Silvan, Noldor, Teleri, Sindar, green-elves, yellow-elves, dark elves) and maybe about the conflicting stories about Celeborn and Galadriel.  Also a chapter about Drawfs is good.

Anyway, thanks Rich and please keep up the good work.


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#7 richsabre

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 12:15 AM

hi angus

thanks, unfortunatly i find myself less interested in elves than other races, im not sure why that is- but i find them a little er.....bland

my main intersts lie with hobbits and dwarves, however dont worry elves shall not be left out, and i will give them their own chapter!

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#8 Angus Lee

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 05:26 AM

richsabre said:

my main intersts lie with hobbits and dwarves, however dont worry elves shall not be left out, and i will give them their own chapter!

Really look forward to these chapters.

Cheers


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#9 Dam

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 06:58 AM

richsabre said:

my main intersts lie with hobbits and dwarves,

[Mr Mackey voice]: "You sick little monkey!"[/Mackey]


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#10 richsabre

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 07:08 AM

Dam said:

richsabre said:

my main intersts lie with hobbits and dwarves,

 

[Mr Mackey voice]: "You sick little monkey!"[/Mackey]

 

M-KAY???


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#11 Budgernaut

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 09:10 AM

 I'm a hobbit/dwarf fan too. Maybe because I'm short . . .

Is it known where hobbits came from or why Illuvatar made them?


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#12 richsabre

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 09:16 AM

that in itself is a 'tolkien mystery' and one that needs research on my behalf before i asnwer- i am inteding doing a hobbit chapter- so ill answer in full there- however ill just say that there is a chapter in the prologue of the fellowship that states they were closer to humans than anyone other race...more closer to use than elves or dwarves.. and that the direct link is completely forgotten- they certainly arent mentioned in the early works- and are not any of the original children of illuvatar ie men elves then even dwarves.....i think they must have evolved from humans....ive seen it theorised that they are a mixture dwarf/human but i tend to disagree...they are too far gone from dwarves....anyway if any has any info on this id like to know!


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#13 lleimmoen

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 09:45 AM

I like how the prologue categorizes each branch of the Hobbits: Harfoots being closer in relation to Dwarves, Stoors to Men, and Fallowhides to Elves. Not that it means anything as to their origin, it is just very intriguing distinction, together with further differences of the three divisions.



#14 richsabre

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 09:59 AM

yeah...im gonna do some serious studying of that prologue when i come round to my hobbit chapter- which im tempted to do next, perhaps alternate between a race spotlight and one of these types


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#15 GrandSpleen

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 02:27 PM

lleimmoen said:

I like how the prologue categorizes each branch of the Hobbits: Harfoots being closer in relation to Dwarves, Stoors to Men, and Fallowhides to Elves. Not that it means anything as to their origin, it is just very intriguing distinction, together with further differences of the three divisions.

let's use our words carefully though -- not 'relation' in terms of kinship. The Harfoots "had much to do with Dwarves," the Stoors were "less shy of men," and the Fallohides were "more friendly with Elves."  The passage is about dealings with other races rather than blood ties.



#16 lleimmoen

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 07:17 PM

I did I thought. "Not that it has anything to do with their origin," thus kinship, I meant. It just shows that maybe Tolkien wanted to show their similarities, in nature, with other races. Harfoots prefered hills, Stoors plains, Fallohides forests. But they were unique still.



#17 Robert McMutton

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 08:16 AM

rich, great as always. You are entering a line that I don't know at all, and as I said in other chapters, I'm begining to gain interest in it. You have made me start the Silmarillion again, and about the HoME volumes, I think I'm going to look for them in ebay or something... I need them... my preciousss

And about preferences, Dwarves were always my favorites, along with Dúnedain... and I have less interest in elves.

Keep going pal. Great work



#18 richsabre

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 09:32 AM

cheers man

i looked on ebay for them, but amazon was still the cheapest, maybe ebay will have all of them going 2nd hand though

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#19 spalanzani

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 09:58 AM

Fantastic work, as ever!

My Return of the Shadow arrived today, so I leapt straight into the Mines of Moria chapter (because I can take or leave Hobbits, but I do love a good Dwarf), and they are pretty awesome books, these histories! Something that really impresses me is the way that the storyline is so clear from even the very first drafts, sometimes even down to really small details. Tolkien clearly knew what he wanted to do from the start, no matter how much he might have protested about certain elements! What a guy.


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#20 richsabre

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Posted 05 April 2012 - 11:53 AM

indeed- thats a good point- its fascinating how he could changed entire meaning of passages (eg the appearance of the rider) however still use it in the final draft


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