Saturday, September 19, 2009

Tolkien did not Make up Hobbits...

...well, the name, at least. Back in my college days, I knew I had seen the name "hobbits" in a book about beings of traditional lore. It appeared in a list of "spirits" (fairies, bogies, and other night-fears), probably copied from Volume II of The Denham Tracts. I recently saw the list from The Denham Tracts posted in someone's on-line journal, which made me recall my own discovery of this interesting bit of information many years ago. The list does appear in An Encyclopedia of Fairies, Hobgoblins, Brownies, Bogies, and Other Supernatural Creatures by the folklorist Katharine Briggs. I may have originally noted the mention of "hobbits" while browsing that particular tome, or I may have run across it elsewhere. In any case, since Michael Aislabie Denham died in 1859 (his works were complied by the Folk-Lore Society into the two volumes of The Denham Tracts in 1892 and 1895) I think it's safe to say that Denham's mention of "hobbits" predates Tolkien's use of the term for his halflings. Tolkien apparently adopted, rather than invented, that particular race name.

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