Hobbits really are amazing creatures. You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you. As Gandalf himself explains, Hobbits are in some ways the simplest of Tolkien’s creatures and in others the most complex.
Despite featuring as the central players in The Lord of the Rings, their evolution is less detailed than the other creatures that make up Middle Earth. Their exact origins are unknown. By the Third Age, they are settled in the fertile fields and idyllic dales of the Shire but much of their development is left unexplored.
Happy-go-lucky creatures, Hobbits prefer a quiet life of farming, eating, and partying. It comes as something of a surprise then to see them journeying, fighting, thieving, and ultimately saving the world in The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
It is impossible to imagine the two epic trilogies without Bilbo, Frodo, Samwise, Pippin, and Merry. It becomes clear as the story progresses that there is more to these curly-haired characters than second-breakfast and pipe-weed.
Even then, understandably, there are more layers left unexplored by the movies that can be found in Tolkien’s wider canon.
With that in mind, here are 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Hobbits.
15. They Don’t Have Actually Big Feet
Hobbits are between 2 foot and 4 foot tall, averaging at 3 feet 6 inches. They have brown curly hair, slightly pointed ears, and most cannot grow beards.
Their preferred mode of dress involves bright colors, specifically earthy shades such as greens and yellows. They have very hairy feet and hardy leathery soles, meaning most hardly wear shoes.
Curiously, in adaptations, Hobbits keep being depicted with unusually large feet. Although this is something Tolkien wrote as a distinctive trait of the Proudfoot Hobbit clan, it is not actually something the author specified for all Hobbits.
The prevalence of this trait is more likely influenced by the illustrations of the Brothers Hildebrandt and the large prosthetic feet used in the films by Peter Jackson. Hobbit feet are hairy, but not necessarily over-sized.
14. They Are Trademarked
Tolkien may have popularized many of the stereotypes we associate with Elves and Dwarves but he did not invent them. He took these from existing folklore and legend. Conversely, the hairy-footed heroes considered in this list were, in fact, entirely his own creation.
Tolkien first wrote about the Hobbit creature and the company Middle-earth Enterprises owns the trademark. For this reason, popular fantasy-based role-playing games such as Dungeons & Dragons use the term Halfling for those diminutive, happy-go-luck races with a penchant for burglary which, of course, do not resemble Hobbits at all.
13. ‘Hobbit’ skeletons have been found
In 2003, diminutive humanoid skeletons were discovered in Indonesia. These Homo floresiensis were nicknamed “hobbits” due to being around 3’ 7’’ in height.
Almost 18,000-years-old, it is difficult to be certain of anything about these fellows. Scientists believe the Homo floresiensis might represent one of the earliest forms of human but there is still debate as to where the “hobbits” fit on the evolutionary tree. They seem to have disappeared before or around the time that modern humans arrived on the scene.
We may not know if these “hobbits” liked fireworks or ate second breakfast, but, if nothing else, it is a shame Tolkien is not around to comment on the exciting discovery of real-life versions of his fictions heroes.
12. The rejected Fifth Hobbit
Fredegar “Fatty” Bolger is not a household name, but in some ways, Fatty resembles all of us more than the Hobbits who joined the Fellowship.
A friend of Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin, Fatty decides to stay behind when the gang set out to take the Ring to Rivendell. He attempts to keep up the appearance of normality and delay the news of the Fellowship’s departure. Fatty was almost persuaded to join them on the way to the Old Forest but he was too afraid.
Ultimately, Fatty turns out to be one of the unsung hero of the story. When the Nazgûl invade the Shire, it is Fatty who runs to the nearest house and rings the Horn-call of Buckland to raise the alarm to drive them away. It is a shame that he was not featured in the movies more.
11. There’s More Than One Type Of Hobbit
The Hobbits originally hail from the Valley of Anduin, between Mirkwood and the Misty Mountains. At this time there were three different types of Hobbit.
The Harfoots were the most numerous. They resemble most closely the sedentary, hole-dwelling farmers as described in The Hobbit.
The second most numerous were the Stoors. These had an affinity for water and their lifestyle revolved around boats, swimming, and fishing. They lived on the marshy Gladden Fields and it is from these that Déagol and Sméagol were descended.
Finally, the Fallohides were the fewest but also the most adventurous of the Hobbits. They lived in the woods under the Misty Mountains. Frodo, Pippin, and Merry had Fallohide blood through their common ancestor, the infamous Old Took, which might explain their more daring tendencies.
10. They Eat Six Meals a Day
Understandably there are certain differences between Tolkien’s novels and the Peter Jackson adaptation but some truths remain universal. The fact that Hobbits eat an impressive number of meals a day is indisputable.
Tolkien explains how Hobbits: “eat, and drink, often and heartily, being fond of simple jests at all times, and of six meals a day (when they could get them).”
In the movies, the Hobbits describe how they eat breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, and supper. Except of course when they are questing to save Middle-earth.
Brits interchangeably refer to supper and dinner so this might explain why Jackson described seven meals here, compared to Tolkien’s six. Or perhaps he was exaggerating.
9. Sam Becomes Mayor Of The Shire
Everyone knows that Samwise is the real hero of the Lord of the Rings. Practical, dependable, and cheerful, Sam carries the One Ring when he believes his friend is dead but immediately gives it back when he discovers him alive. He literally carries Frodo to Mount Doom. And he cooks a mean rabbit stew.
Fittingly, Sam receives the happy ending that his heroic actions deserve as he gets the girl and is elected to office. When he returns to the Shire, he marries his sweetheart, Rosie Cotton, and has thirteen children. He is made Mayor of the Shire, an important title among Hobbits, and serves seven consecutive terms.
8. Pippin Names His Son After Faramir
Once the War of the Ring is over and the Shire saved, the Hobbits return as triumphant heroes.
Many of our once immature characters are now battle-hardened and wiser for their trials. Several of them marry, with Pippin settling down to wed Diamond of Long Cleeve. The couple give birth to a son, who they name Faramir. Later, Faramir Took marries Samwise Gamgee’s daughter Goldilocks.
Pippin becomes Thain of the Shire. The Thain was the military leader of the Shire, first held by Bucca of the Marish, who founded the Oldbuck family. Later this title became hereditary, the Thain being chosen from the powerful Took family.
Often seen as comic relief in the movies, Peregrin Took is the youngest of the Hobbits and can be a little bit hapless. Yet by the end of the story, his titles include Thain of the Shire, Guard of the Citadel, and Knight of Gondor. Not bad for a fool of a Took.
7. What Happened To Frodo’s Parents
Like many a heroic protagonist, Frodo Baggins is an orphan. In this case, his parents were not killed by criminals in Gotham, inspiring him to dedicate his life to fighting evil – Frodo’s parents actually died in a tragic boating accident on the Brandywine River.
His father Drogo Baggins and his mother Primula Brandybuck were killed when Frodo was twelve. Frodo spent his adolescence living with his maternal family in Brandy Hall.
When he turned 21, his cousin Bilbo adopted him and he came to live at Bag End. Although Frodo refers to Bilbo as uncle, they are really first and second cousins. Bilbo had spent his life a bachelor, becoming fond of his young cousin and deciding to leave his amassed wealth to the (for a Hobbit) adventurous youth.
6. The Name of any Female Hobbits
The Hobbit movies invent warrior elf-maiden, Tauriel, to inject a female presence into a story essentially about short, bearded soldiers stealing jewelry.
It is true that The Hobbit has no main female characters. However, there are definitely female Hobbits. Although women are given very little development in the story, Hobbit society is not necessarily male-centric.
Despite there being very few named female Hobbits, they are described as possessing a similar autonomy in the community as male Hobbits and Tolkien mentions several women who ruled as Matriarch of their families.
Named characters include Rosie Cotton, the cheerful Hobbit-maiden who was somewhat put out when her man left the Shire on a quest and patiently waited for Samwise to return so she could marry him. And Bilbo’s mother, Belladonna Baggins, is one of the three remarkable daughters of The Old Took, who was an all round a good influence on the burglar-to-be.
5. They live longer than Man
Hobbits are considered a “relative” of the race of Man. They are thought to be a branch of mankind, hence why Bree utilizes the colloquial terms “Little People” and “Big People” to show their common ancestry. Yet the Hobbits themselves have apparently lost the genealogical details of how they are related and consider themselves a separate race.
It is clear that their lifespans are unique. Most Hobbits live longer than Men, the average lifespan of a Hobbit being about 100 years. At 33-years-old a Hobbit would be considered an adult and so a 50-year-old is middle-aged.
4. Weird calendars and birthday customs
From their eating habits to their birthday customs, the Hobbits are incredibly particular. This is even reflected in their calendars. Every year begins on a Saturday and ends on a Friday. Each of their twelve months consists of precisely thirty days.
The Hobbits have special days which do not sit in any month – Yule 1 (New Year’s Eve) and Yule 2 (New Year’s Day) and Midsummer Lithe Day. Every fourth year there is an extra Litheday used as we use leap years to sort out the shift in seasons.
Birthdays are also very important to the Hobbits. A Hobbit would be expected to throw a party on the eve of their birthday, providing gifts for those invited. Guests would give gifts to the host as well but they would be delivered in person before that date, never on the day.
3. Merry is actually brilliant
Sharing the bravery and tenacity of his fellows, Merry is also the more intellectual of the Hobbits.
Merry was one of the only Hobbits to know about the history of the One Ring and its incredible power before Frodo left for Rivendell. It is less obvious in the movies as most of the preparations in the novel are cut short, but in the book, it is Merry who organizes the “conspiracy” to help prepare Frodo to leave the Shire, organizing the route and preparing gear.
After the War of the Ring, like Pippin, Merry returns triumphant. He eventually marries Estella Bolger and becomes the Master of Buckland. With this new found spare time, he writes an academic thesis, Old Words and Names in the Shire, exploring the relationship between the languages of the Rohirrim and Shire-Hobbits, proving a shared heritage. A smart Hobbit indeed.
2. Peter Jackson Only Wanted Martin Freeman As Bilbo
Can you imagine Daniel Radcliffe or Shia LeBeouf as Bilbo Baggins?
It is difficult to visualize anyone besides Martin Freeman playing the reluctant hero in The Hobbit trilogy and, thankfully, Peter Jackson thought so too. The director wanted Freeman for the role before he even met him and was stricken when Freeman’s prior commitment to BBC’s Sherlock threatened to conflict with his ability to play Bilbo.
Jackson described how the “stuffy, repressed English quality” that Freeman had shown in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and Sherlock was perfect for the Hobbit.
1. Gollum Is A Pre-Hobbit
It is well known that the sneaking, sniveling, jewelry obsessed creature called Gollum was not always as we know him from the Lord of the Rings.
Originally named Sméagol, he was a river dweller. After he had been deformed and twisted in both body and mind by the corruption of the Ring, he changed. His name “Gollum” was derived from the disgusting retching, gurgling sound that he made.
It is thought that Sméagol was a Stoor, one of three early Hobbit creatures. In their earliest recorded history the Stoors, like the other Hobbits, lived in the Vales of Anduin. They lived in the Gladden Fields and their livelihood was fishing.
It is his similar heritage that, in part, causes Frodo to be so sympathetic towards the pathetic creature that Gollum becomes. He could easily have ended up in a similar state.
Do oyu have any trivia to share about the Hobbits from The Lord of the Rings? Let us know in the comments!
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