Hobbits?...And what may they be?

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Vol: 4, Issue: 1

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Flowers, Michael
Hobbit; Tolkien; Wales; agricultural measure; origin; Denham Tracts; Literature in English, British Isles
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Hobbits…And what may they be? This study considers the possible origin of the word ‘hobbit’ on the eightieth anniversary of the publication of the first edition of Tolkien’s book - The Hobbit. It examines the most widely discussed supposed origin by contemporary commentators, and undermines its credibility. Instead, it foregrounds what was originally a medieval Welsh word widely used in agricultural circles, which Tolkien may have encountered in his youth. Proof that the word had a widespread use in a specific sector of the provincial Welsh press is amply demonstrated, and consideration is given to Tolkien’s childhood visit to Wales. Tolkien’s comments on the probable process of inspiration are examined and shown to be applicable to this example. A focus on a neglected, or underrated plausible origin of the word illustrates its true potential for being considered in the future when origins of the word are discussed.