A Dragon, A Ring, and the Hobbit published 21 September 1937

Hobbit was published on September 21, 1937. It was sold out by December because of favourable reviews. In 1938 it was awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction. The Hobbit still remains popular and has been translated in over forty languages. It is regarded as a classic in children’s literature. The real hero of The Hobbit? A ten-year-old boy called Rayner Unwin. As the son of Sir Stanley Unwin, the latter-half of book publishers George Allen & Unwin’s, he was asked to rubber stamp any children’s fiction the firm released. His short review sealed the deal for Tolkien’s career. “This book… is good and should appeal to all children between the ages of 5 and 9.”     It turned out to be a brilliant investment. There isn’t a single female character in The Hobbit, and the only woman mentioned by name is Bilbo’s mother, Belladonna Took. Fili and Kili are the sons of Thorin’s sister, but you’ll have to go to one of the family trees in The Lord of the Rings (of which there are many) to find out that she was called “Dis” – making her the only lady Dwarf mentioned anywhere in Tolkien’s writings. 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. The names for the dwarves – and even the mighty wizard Gandalf, himself – didn’t just pop fully-formed into JRR Tolkien’s head. The Oxford Don ‘borrowed’ the names wholesale out of the Völuspá – an old Norse poem telling the story of the Earth’s creation. The following names were Dwarves in Norse mythology: Dvalinn, Bífurr, Báfurr, Bömburr, Nóri, Óri, Óinn, Gandalfr, Fíli, Kíli, Glóinn, Dóri, Þorinn (pronounced as Thorin). Even Gandalf (Gandalfr) is named after a Dwarf from Norse mythology.B early 1930s, while grading examination papers, Tolkien found a blank page and was suddenly inspired to write – “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” The line became the introductory words of The Hobbit. Tolkien believed that he had coined the word ‘hobbit’ but it was later found that there is prior evidence of the word, though with a different meaning. In 1971 Tolkien stated that he remembered making the word ‘hobbit’ himself but that there was nothing but his word to support the claim. Since the 1970s the Oxford English Dictionary has credited Tolkien with the invention of the word.Tolkien apparently didn’t even come up with the word Hobbit, though it’s usually attributed to him. The Oxford English Dictionary threw a spanner in the works by pointing out that the word first turned up in a 19th Century book of folklore, as an obscure word for little people or fairies. The Oxford English Dictionary is presumably written by Tooks. Major Conflict  Bilbo’s timidity, complacency, and uncertainty work against his inner strength and heroism. As he travels and embarks on adventures, he must gradually learn to rely on his own abilities and to take the initiative to do what he feels is right. The Hobbit’s main theme is Bilbo’s development into a hero, which more broadly represents the development of a common person into a hero. At the beginning of the story, Bilbo is timid, comfortable, and complacent in his secure little hole at Bag End. When Gandalf talks him into embarking on the quest with Thorin’s dwarves, Bilbo becomes so frightened that he faints. But as the novel progresses, Bilbo prevails in the face of danger and adversity, justifying Gandalf’s early claim that there is more to the little hobbit than meets the eye.

4 thoughts on “A Dragon, A Ring, and the Hobbit published 21 September 1937

  1. I’m happy to say we actually remembered it was Monday and why that was significant and switched to KRNN before I saw this e-mail. GREAT show (and great topic) as usual!



    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s been so long since I read Tolkien’s books, I had completely forgotten there were no women characters in The Hobbit. (Really?!) I do remember having trouble getting into the book until at least a third of the way through. It’s a good thing they added women to The Hobbit films which I can’t get enough of. I’m also glad Tolkien added strong women in his later books.

    Liked by 1 person

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