Hello and welcome to chapter 7-All About Hobbits. It’s been a while since I’ve posted a chapter- due to studying I haven’t had much time; however I’ve managed to piece this one together for you all.
This chapter is all about hobbits- I actually started writing it before the Hobbit pack news release, so it’s turned out to be a happy coincidence. Seeing as many of you know about hobbits, there may not be much new here, but hopefully this will hold some fresh insight to the race, instead of just being a repeat of what you all already know.
Hobbits are naturally core to Tolkien’s work. In fact they are pretty much the central race in the Trilogy (one could argue that in The Hobbit, dwarves were central, but you could argue either way I suppose). Keeping this in mind, you would think there’d be hoards of information out there, but this isn’t necessarily true. For one thing, we don’t really know the main aspect of the hobbit race; what they are. This enigma will be dealt with in the second part of this chapter, but for now, let me focus on what we do know.
The hobbit race first showed up in middle earth history in the year 1050 of the 3rd age. Mysteriously nothing is known of them before this time. It is said in legend that they dwelt near the banks of the Anduin, between the vales of Greenwood the Great (later to be Mirkwood) and the Misty Mountains. At the year 1050 the first of the Hobbit clan, the Harfoots, are said to have came to Eriador. It is not known for sure why the migration of the Hobbit people began, however it is generally believed to be the darkness that fell upon Greenwood the Great that drove them from their homes to take the perilous crossing over the Misty Mountains.
Whilst in the lands of the Anduin, the Hobbits had already divided in three clans- the Harfoots, the Stoors and the Fallohides. The Harfoots were the first to come west. They were browner of skin, shorter and more nimble. They preferred the hillsides and mountains as homes. Friends of the dwarves, they were longest of the three clans to preserve their love for living in holes and underground (most likely from their dwarven friends).
The Stoors came after the Harfoots and on the other hand were broader with larger hands and feet, preferring the riversides as homes. Many of them dwelt in the area of Dunland before moving further west. It was a Stoor named Deagol that found the One Ring, only to be murdered by his friend Smeagol, who became the pitiful creature known as Gollum.
Lastly came the Fallohides. They crossed north of Rivendell and were thus friendly with the elves. They were taller and fairer skinned than the others, and were lovers of trees and woodlands. More skilled in woodcraft and hunting than their counterparts, they were often the more adventurous, and thus became leaders of the Hobbit race, later to be known as Tooks and Brandybucks.
It was here in the west of Eriador that the Hobbits settled, befriending the Dunedain, whom they learnt much from. However it was not until the year 1601 that the migration continued to what became known as The Shire. Gaining permission from the current king of Arnor - Argeleb II, Marcho and Blanco, two brothers of the Fallohides, set out from Bree to settle further west. All that was demanded from the king in return was for them to keep the roads in repair, to speed the king’s messengers (a bit of a good deal if you ask me!).
Thus the years of the Shire Reckoning began, and the crossing of the Brandywine became known as the first year of the Shire. Despite being under the rule of the king of Arnor, in reality the hobbits lived in a secluded world, being under the rule of their own Thain. In fact, so peaceful and secluded was the Shire, that the hobbits eventually forgot all about the outside world, and after the fall of the North Kingdom, the outside world forgot all about Hobbits.
Despite Hobbit’s love for tunnels and holes, this became a scarcer thing in the time of Bilbo and Frodo. It was in this age that only the very rich, or very poor lived in holes. The rich lived in Smials- great tunnels with dozens of round windows, with the room to accommodate many families. The poor on the other hand lived in very basic holes, usually with one or no windows at all.
The Hobbits were a very peaceful race, and only a very few times had they gone to war. The battle of the Greenfields was the last battle in Shire memory (before the battle against Saruman of course), where Bandobras Took (Bullroarer) lobbed off the head of Golfimbul - the leader of an orc invasion. It is said the head fell down a rabbit hole leading to the game of golf!
Here I will ‘attempt’ to shine some light upon the origin of Hobbits. I do not try to pretend I am right, however hopefully at the very least this will spark an interesting discussion.
In the prologue of the Fellowship, we are given this quote
“Hobbits are relatives of ours, far nearer to us than elves, or even than dwarves.”
So what does this tell us? Well firstly that Hobbits at the very least are more closely related to men than any other race on middle earth. But how does this come about? Without going into any sticky details, we have two choices. 1. there must have been some cross inter-marriage with another race at some point. Or 2. the Hobbits evolved into a race of shorter, stockier men.
So which one seems most likely? Well let’s take a look at what we know. Firstly the Hobbits crop up near the Anduin. It is here that they are said to have interacted with the Eotheod- the ancestors of the Rohirrim (this is shown by the Rohirrim having a name for the Hobbits- Holbytla). However it is unlikely this interaction went any further. We certainly don’t see any reason to assume any Hobbits permanently settled near Rohan, nor do the Rohirrim remember the Hobbits in any form other than legend when they meet Merry and Pippin. In any case, the Hobbits were obviously a unique, individual species well before the time of Rohan.
Secondly we know of no race similar to Hobbits in earlier middle earth history. There is no mention of them in the Silmarillion. Now admittedly we can’t rule this out immediately. The reason I say this is that the Silmarillion is one of Tolkien’s oldest works of fiction, and just because Hobbits do not feature, it does not mean they weren’t there. However this is much like saying that a Starbucks has a chance of existing in middle earth, just because we aren’t told otherwise- in which case we have to be sensible and say the most likely wasn’t a Starbucks. Can we say the same for Hobbits? Well that I shall leave up to you, however be assured the word ‘Hobbit’ never once crops up in any edition of the Silmarillion, nor are they mentioned as one the three Children of Illuvatar. However we do know that the creator did not create any other children, and this only leaves Maiar, Valar, creatures (horses, eagles etc) and whatever it is that Bombadil is….and Hobbits are most certainly not any of them.
So therefore we are back where we started! Hobbits are men- we just don’t know how they separated. I am afraid i shall rather embarrasingly have to leave it here for now….
I shall leave you all with a question. How is this so? I shall be perfectly honest and say I have not the slightest idea!
stay tuned for the series to continue where it left off (weekly…or at least fortnightly )
Till next time….happy gaming