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The Hobbit

The name The Hobbit refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see The Hobbit (disambiguation).
The name There and Back Again refers to more than one character, item or concept. For a list of other meanings, see There and Back Again (disambiguation).
The Hobbit
The Hobbit (1937).png
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
PublisherGeorge Allen & Unwin; Houghton Mifflin
Released21 September 1937; 1938

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, better known as The Hobbit, is the first of J.R.R. Tolkien published books set within Arda. It was first published on 21 September 1937 by George Allen & Unwin in the United Kingdom, and was subsequently followed by the publication of Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings in 1954 and 1955.


[edit] Plot

The Hobbit chapters
  1. An Unexpected Party
  2. Roast Mutton
  3. A Short Rest
  4. Over Hill and Under Hill
  5. Riddles in the Dark
  6. Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire
  7. Queer Lodgings
  8. Flies and Spiders
  9. Barrels Out of Bond
  10. A Warm Welcome
  11. On the Doorstep
  12. Inside Information
  13. Not at Home
  14. Fire and Water
  15. The Gathering of the Clouds
  16. A Thief in the Night
  17. The Clouds Burst
  18. The Return Journey
  19. The Last Stage
Donato Giancola - Expulsion
Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, is smoking in his porchway one day when Gandalf the Wizard visits him. After a lengthy discussion, during which Bilbo uses the phrase "Good Morning" several times, in several different ways, Bilbo, finding himself flustered, invites Gandalf to tea, and goes back inside his hobbit hole with a final "Good Morning". Gandalf scratches a secret mark on Bilbo's front door, which translated means 'Burglar wants a good job, plenty of excitement and reasonable reward'. Thirteen Dwarves (Thorin, Óin, Glóin, Dwalin, Balin, Bifur, Kíli, Fíli, Bofur, Dori, Bombur, Nori, and Ori) show up and begin excitedly discussing their planned treasure hunt while the hapless Bilbo provides the obligatory hospitality. After the dwarves clean up their mess, a map is produced and Gandalf arranges for Bilbo to get the burglary job—as well as to break the unlucky number 13. The company's quest: kill Smaug, the dragon who seized the Lonely Mountain (Erebor) from the Dwarves' forefathers, and, using a secret door into the mountain, recapture it, dividing the riches within its halls.

The next morning, after oversleeping and nearly missing the start of the journey, Bilbo goes off with the Dwarves. They are nearly eaten by three Trolls, but Gandalf tricks the trolls into staying up all night whereupon they are turned into stone by the first light of dawn. (The stone trolls appear later in The Lord of the Rings.) In the troll's cave they find some swords. Bilbo acquires Sting, which glows blue in the presence of Goblins (another name for Orcs).

The party travels to Rivendell where they enjoy the hospitality of the Elves, then proceed eastwards towards the Misty Mountains. There they are ambushed by goblins (Orcs), and carried under the mountain. They run away, and during the escape Bilbo loses the Dwarves. Alone in the dark after running away from the goblins, Bilbo finds a ring on the floor of a cave passage and puts it into his pocket.

Continuing down, he finds himself at the shore of an underground lake. Gollum quietly paddles up in his boat, and the two enact the Riddle-game, under the condition that if Bilbo wins, Gollum will show him the way out, but if he loses, Gollum will eat Bilbo. After several Riddles, which each manages to answer, Bilbo, whilst fiddling in his pocket unable to think of a riddle, asks himself aloud "What have I got in my pocket?" Gollum thinks this is supposed to be the next riddle, and as it doesn't comply with the rules of the riddle game, demands three guesses; in the end he fails to guess the answer. Bilbo demands his reward, but Gollum refuses and paddles off in his boat to an island in the lake, upon which he lives. After searching around for a while asking aloud "where is it? wheres my precious!?" to which Bilbo replies, "I don't know and I don't care, I just want to get out of here", Gollum becomes suspicious, gets in his boat, and starts paddling back across the lake towards Bilbo. Gollum is unable to find the one weapon he could use to betray and kill Bilbo, a magic ring that makes its wearer invisible; driven by rage, Gollum starts to realize the real answer to Bilbo's previous question "What have I got in my pocket?". Bilbo realises his life is in mortal danger and makes his escape down the maze of pitch black tunnels, and Gollum gives chase. Bilbo trips, and finds the ring on his finger. Realising he has no chance to escape his pursuer, he stays where he is and prepares to meet his fate, but Gollum runs right over him. Bilbo realises the ring makes him invisible. He manages to escape past Gollum, who has gone to guard the only exit, and finds his way to the surface where he rejoins the Dwarves.

Descending from the Misty Mountains, they survive an encounter with Wargs (wild wolf creatures) by climbing trees. Eagles rescue them. Then they meet Beorn, a man who can transform into a bear. They depart, having rested for several days. Gandalf leaves soon on an errand. The party traverses the great forest Mirkwood, eventually running out of supplies. Gandalf had warned them not to leave the path, but they saw fire and heard singing, so, hopeless, they leave the path to beg food from Wood-elves, only to get lost. They are captured by giant spiders, but Bilbo rescues the Dwarves by becoming invisible and killing many spiders with Sting. Elves then capture the Dwarves and imprison them, but Bilbo manages to sneak into the Elvenking's palace unnoticed using the ring; he then helps the Dwarves escape in barrels floated down the river.
J.R.R. Tolkien - Bilbo comes to the Huts of the Raft-elves

After staying for a short period of time at Lake-town, the treasure-seekers proceed to the Lonely Mountain. Finding themselves unable to locate the secret door, the company sit down disconsolate on a cliff. Hearing a thrush knocking on a stone, Bilbo looks up just in time to see the last rays of the Sun of Durin's Day, shining on the cliff wall, to magically reveal the secret door (as was foretold by moon-letters upon a map that the company was in possession of). Bilbo is sent down to encounter Smaug. The dragon, realising the Company received help from the people of Laketown, sets out to destroy it. However, the thrush that had been knocking on the stone, was no ordinary bird but of an ancient race with whom the men of the lake could communicate, and it had heard Bilbo's report to the dwarves, that Smaug had a bare patch on his belly that could be used to slaughter him, if only you could get close enough. It conveyed this message to one Bard the Bowman, who seeing the bare patch in the belly of Smaug, despatched the dragon with a single arrow, thus allowing the party of Dwarves to take possession of the treasure.

The citizens of Laketown arrive to make historical claims and demand compensation for the help they had rendered, as well as reparations for the damage Smaug inflicted during his attack. They're joined by the Elves, who also demand a share based on historical claims. The Dwarves refuse all negotiations and in turn summon kin from the north to strengthen their position. Seeing no other way to avert a war, Bilbo uses the ring to steal the prized Arkenstone from the Dwarves, which he tries to use to broker peace.

Just as Thorin is refusing a truce and battle is about to begin, the three armies at the Lonely Mountain (Elves, Men and Dwarves) must rally together as they are attacked by Goblins and Wargs from the Misty Mountains. A bitter battle ensues, named the Battle of Five Armies. Though suffering heavy losses, Elves, Men and Dwarves prevail. The treasure is apportioned. Bilbo refuses most of the riches, realising he has no way to bring them back home; he nevertheless takes enough with him to make himself a wealthy hobbit and live happily thereafter, unaware of the dangerous nature of his ring.

[edit] Characters

  1. Bilbo Baggins
  2. Belladonna Took (mentioned only)
  3. Bungo Baggins (mentioned only)
  4. Old Took (mentioned only)
  5. Gandalf the Grey
  6. Thorin Oakenshield
  7. Dwalin
  8. Balin
  9. Fíli
  10. Kíli
  11. Óin
  12. Glóin
  13. Dori
  14. Nori
  15. Ori
  16. Bifur
  17. Bofur
  18. Bombur
  19. Smaug
  20. Thráin (mentioned only)
  21. Thrór (mentioned only)
  22. Thráin I (mentioned only)
  23. Azog (mentioned only)
  24. Bullroarer Took (mentioned only)
  25. Golfimbul (mentioned only)
  26. William
  27. Tom
  28. Bert
  29. Elrond
  30. Durin (mentioned only)
  31. The Great Goblin
  32. Gollum
  33. Wargs
  34. The Lord of the Eagles
  35. Beorn
  36. Radagast the Brown (mentioned only)
  37. The Elvenking
  38. Galion
  39. Bard the Bowman
  40. Master of Lake-town
  41. Girion of Dale (mentioned only)
  42. Carc (mentioned only)
  43. Roäc
  44. Dáin Ironfoot
  45. Bolg

[edit] Conception

Tolkien recollects in a 1955 letter to W.H. Auden (Letters, no. 163) that, in the late 1920s, when he was Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Pembroke College, The Hobbit began when he was marking School Certificate papers, on the back of one of which he wrote the words "In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit". He did not go any further than that at the time, although in the following years he drew up Thrór's map, outlining the geography of the tale. The tale itself he wrote in the early 1930s, and it was eventually published because he lent it to the Reverend Mother of Cherwell Edge when she was sick with the flu; while the Reverend Mother was in possession of the manuscript, it was seen by the 10-year old son of Sir Stanley Unwin, Rayner Unwin, who wrote such an enthusiastic review of the book that it was published by Allen and Unwin.

Tolkien introduced or mentioned characters and places that figured prominently in his legendarium, specifically Elrond and Gondolin, along with elements from Germanic legend. But the decision that the events of The Hobbit could belong to the same universe as The Silmarillion was made only after successful publication, when the publisher asked for a sequel. Accordingly, The Hobbit serves both as an introduction to Middle-Earth and as a link between earlier and later events described in The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings, respectively.

Although a fairy tale, the novel is both complex and sophisticated: it contains many names and words derived from Norse mythology, and central plot elements from the Beowulf epic, it makes use of Anglo-Saxon Runes, information on calendars and moon phases, and detailed geographical descriptions that fit well with the accompanying maps. Near the end, the tale takes on epic proportions.

[edit] Publications and editions

George Allen & Unwin, Ltd. of London published the first edition of The Hobbit on 21 September 1937. It was illustrated with many black-and-white drawings by Tolkien himself. The original printing numbered a mere 1,500 copies and sold out by 15 December that same year due to enthusiastic reviews. Houghton Mifflin of Boston and New York prepared an American edition to be released early in 1938 in which four of the illustrations would be colour plates. Allen & Unwin decided to incorporate the colour illustrations into their second printing, released at the end of 1937.[1] Despite the book's popularity, wartime conditions forced the London publisher to print small runs of the remaining two printings of the first edition.

As remarked above, Tolkien substantially revised The Hobbit's text describing Bilbo's dealings with Gollum in order to blend the story better into what The Lord of the Rings had become. This revision became the second edition, published in 1951 in both UK and American editions. Slight corrections to the text have appeared in the third (1966) and fourth editions (1978).

New English-language editions of The Hobbit spring up often, despite the book's age, with at least fifty editions having been published to date. Each comes from a different publisher or bears distinctive cover art, internal art, or substantial changes in format. The text of each generally adheres to the Allen & Unwin edition extant at the time it is published.

[edit] Translations

The Hobbit has been translated into many languages. Known languages, with the first date of publishing, are:

[edit] Reception

The first literary review of The Hobbit was entitled "A World for Children", written by C.S. Lewis and published on 2 October 1937.[17][18]

There have been at least two suggestions of when the first "critical discussion" of The Hobbit appeared in a book: either Anne Carroll Moore's My Roads to Childhood: Views and Reviews of Children's Books (Doubleday, 1939) or Helen E. Haines's What's in a Novel (1942).[19][20]

[edit] Adaptations

The Hobbit has been adapted for other media. BBC Radio 4 broadcast The Hobbit radio drama, adapted by Michael Kilgarriff, in eight parts (4 hours) from September to November 1968, which starred Anthony Jackson as narrator, Paul Daneman as Bilbo and Heron Carvic as Gandalf.

Middle-earth has been featured in songs notably by Enya and the Brobdingnagian Bards. Led Zeppelin's songs "Misty Mountain Hop" and "Ramble On" both contain references to Tolkien's mystical world. For The Hobbit itself, "The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins", performed by Leonard Nimoy as part of his 1968 Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy album, is the most pertinent because it recounts the book's storyline in its two minutes. The ballad's music video became a minor Internet meme in the early 2000s when The Lord of the Rings movies were released.

In 1974, Argo Records released an audio adaption of the Hobbit, with Nicol Williamson providing the voices for all the characters in the book. It was an abridged adaption, as Williamson re-edited the original script, removing many instances of "he said" and so on, preferring instead to rely on his vocal characteristics to convey who was saying what to whom, feeling that this would keep the audience engrossed in the story rather than slowing the overall pace.

An animated version of the story debuted as a television movie in the United States in 1977.

A live action television dramatization was broadcast on USSR televsion in 1985.

David T. Wenzel's graphic format adaptation of The Hobbit was published in 1989.

Several computer and video games, both official and unofficial, have been based on the story. One of the first was The Hobbit, a computer game developed in 1982 by Beam Software and published by Melbourne House for most computers available at the time, from the more popular computers such as the ZX Spectrum, and the Commodore 64, through to such esoteric computers as the Dragon 32 and Oric computers. By arrangement with publishers, a copy of the novel was included with each game sold.

Vivendi Universal Games published The Hobbit: Prelude to The Lord of the Rings in 2003 for Windows PCs, PlayStation 2, Xbox, and GameCube. It is a hack and slash game produced as a prequel to The Lord of the Rings video games, but also as a softer version of those two games: less brutal, fewer enemies but with an important platform aspect, the game was designed for smaller children. A similar version of this game was also published for the Game Boy Advance.

A three-part live-action film version of The Hobbit based on the book, and incorporating elements from the Apprendices of The Lord of the Rings was produced and directed by Peter Jackson, who had also produced and directed a film adaption of The Lord of the Rings. Principal photography began in 2011 and ended in 2012, with the majority of the scenes being shot in New Zealand.

This film series was released in three parts: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was released on 14 December 2012; The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug was released on 13 December 2013; and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies was released worldwide on 17 December 2014.

[edit] See also

[edit] External links


  1. Laura Massey, "Identifying & Collecting Tolkien First Editions" dated 9 January 2012, (accessed 12 January 2012)
  4. 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 4.26 4.27 4.28 4.29 4.30 4.31 4.32 4.33 4.34 4.35 4.36 J.R.R. Tolkien; Douglas A. Anderson, (ed.), (2002) The Annotated Hobbit: Revised and Expanded Edition, pp. 387-96
  5. Marek Śliwiński, "Hobbit - Belarusian language", Babel Hobbits (accessed 26 August 2012)
  6. Suravi Chatterjee-Woolman, "Tolkien translations: Tolkien in Bengali" dated 5 January 2013, Tolkien Library (accessed 25 February 2013)
  7. "An Hobys, pò An Fordh Dy ha Tre Arta. The Hobbit, or There and Back Again in Cornish", (accessed 20 April 2015)
  8. "Le Hobbit - nouvelle traduction de Daniel Lauzon", (accessed 31 December 2012)
  9. "Hebrew", Elrond's Library (accessed 24 September 2013)
  10. "Some thoughts on the Irish language Hobbit…" dated 10 May 2012, (accessed 20 May 2013)
  11. Benedicte Page, "Latin Hobbit for Harper" dated 8 May 2012, (accessed 26 August 2012)
  12. Pieter Collier, "Interview with Nilesh Pashte and Meena Kinikar about The Hobbit in Marathi" dated 25 September 2011, Tolkien Library (accessed 26 August 2012)
  13. "Persian Hobbit 2004", Tolkien Collector's Guide (accessed 26 August 2012)
  14. "Iran to celebrate J.R.R. Tolkien’s birthday" dated 4 January 2011, Iran Book News Agency (accessed 26 August 2012)
  15. Mark T. Hooker, Tolkien Through Russian Eyes
  16. John D. Rateliff, "The Yiddish HOBBIT" dated 22 August 2013, Mailing list for the Mythopoeic Society (accessed 22 August 2013)
  17. Åke Bertenstam, "A Chronological Bibliography of Books About Tolkien", The Tolkien Society Forodrim (accessed 7 January 2012)
  18. Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond (2006), The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: I. Chronology, p. 202
  19. John D. Rateliff, "Helen Haines" dated 26 June 2013, Sacnoth's Scriptorium (accessed 14 September 2013) (see also comments field)
  20. David Bratman, "Fantasy: The View from 1942" dated 15 August 2013, Kalimac LiveJournal (accessed 14 September 2013)
Illustrators of The Hobbit
Internal art J.R.R. Tolkien (1937-present) · Eric Fraser (The Folio Society: 1979, 1992-present) · Michael Hague (1984-1992) · David T. Wenzel (graphic novel: 1989-present) · Alan Lee (1997-present) · David Wyatt (1998-2001, 2012-2013) · John Howe (pop-up: 1999) · Jemima Catlin (2013-present)
Cover art only J.R.R. Tolkien (1937-present) · Pauline Baynes (1961) · Roger Garland (1987-1989) · John Howe (1991-present) · Ted Nasmith (1989-1991) · Barbara Remington (1965 US)
The Hobbit film series
Source material: The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
Films An Unexpected Journey (extended editionThe Desolation of Smaug (extended edition) · The Battle of the Five Armies (extended edition)
Music An Unexpected Journey (Special Edition) · The Desolation of Smaug (Special Edition) · The Battle of the Five Armies (Special Edition) · "Song of the Lonely Mountain" · "I See Fire" · "The Last Goodbye"
Tie-in books An Unexpected Journey Official Movie Guide · Visual Companion · Movie Storybook · Annual 2013 · Chronicles: Art & Design · Chronicles: Creatures & Characters · The World of Hobbits
The Desolation of Smaug Official Movie Guide · Visual Companion · Movie Storybook · Annual 2014 · Chronicles: Art & Design · Chronicles: Cloaks & Daggers · Smaug: Unleashing the Dragon · Activity Book · Sticker Book · Ultimate Sticker Collection
The Battle of the Five Armies Official Movie Guide · Visual Companion · Movie Storybook · Annual 2015 · Chronicles: Art & Design · Chronicles: The Art of War · Activity Book
Video games Lego The Hobbit · Kingdoms of Middle-earth
Characters Bilbo · Thorin · Gandalf · Balin · Fíli · Kíli · Dwalin · Dori · Nori · Ori · Óin · Glóin · Bifur · Bofur · Bombur · Smaug · Radagast · Elrond · Galadriel · Saruman · Azog · Bolg · Thranduil · Legolas · Tauriel · Bard · Bain · Tilda · Sigrid · Master of Lake-town · Alfrid · Dáin Ironfoot · Necromancer · Bert · William · Tom · Beorn · Thráin · Thrór · Goblin King · Gollum · Frodo