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- "In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a Hobbit-hole, and that means comfort."
- ― The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"
Bilbo Baggins inherited the home from his parents, Bungo and Belladonna Baggins, who built the smial in Third Age 2889. The Hobbit-hole is noted to have a green door with a round brass knob, all but countless rooms with round windows, and a garden. Although Hobbits are known to be of small stature, larger visitors were often seen, indicating that the ceilings were certainly taller than might be expected. The grounds and home were kept by the Gamgee family, most notably Hamfast ("The Gaffer") and later his son, Samwise. The beautiful hole was a point of contention between Bilbo and his relatives, the Sackville-Bagginses, who very much desired to own it.
Here, Bilbo lived a quiet existence until the wizard Gandalf appeared with thirteen Dwarves at the beginning of The Hobbit. Upon his return, he discovered the contents of the smial being auctioned off, due to his presumed death. The Sackville-Bagginses were extremely disappointed and frustrated at his return, and their subsequent loss of Bag End.
In 2989, the eccentric Bilbo adopted his cousin (and nephew) Frodo as his heir. Frodo became the Master of Bag End on their mutual birthday, at the age of 33, when Bilbo, then 111 years old, left to live with the Elves at Rivendell. Frodo remained content at Bag End until Gandalf returned and confirmed that Bilbo's ring was actually the One Ring. Preperations for departure ensued, with Frodo selling Bag End to the Sackville-Bagginses and removing to Crickhollow, before beginning the quest to destroy the ring.
Upon their return during the Scouring of the Shire, Frodo and company discover that Lotho Sackville-Baggins had made Bag End his power base as he became Chief of the Shire. He succeeded, if only too well, and lost control of the entire enterprise. After Saruman arrived, Gríma Wormtongue killed Lotho in his sleep.
Frodo resumed living in Bag End and was joined by Sam, upon his marriage to Rose Cotton. However, with wounds too deep to heal, in 3021 he named Sam his heir, and departed across the sea. Bag End remained in the Gamgee family (later known as the Gardners) for at least three generations following Sam.
Portrayal in Adaptations
In The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy, a life-sized exterior of Bag End was constructed as part of the Hobbiton set near Matamata, New Zealand. The interior sets of Bag End were built on two different scales, and their design was based on artwork by John Howe.
Inspiration and Origin
J.R.R. Tolkien's aunt Jane Neave's farm was called Bag End by the locals in Dormston, Worcestershire.
- "It [Bag End] was the local name for my aunt's [Jane Neave] farm in Worcestershire, which was at the end of a lane leading to it and no further..."
- ― Nomenclature
The name can also be seen as a pun on "cul-de-sac" (literally "bottom of the bag").<ref name="Nomen">J.R.R. Tolkien, "Nomenclature of The Lord of the Rings" in Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. 753</ref>
In the books, it is supposedly a translation of the Westron Laban-neg, Labin-nec, which has much the same meaning, and the same relationship to the Westron form of Baggins: Labingi.<ref name="PM">J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "The Appendix on Languages", p. 48</ref>