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Barliman Butterbur

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Barliman Butterbur by John Howe

Barliman Butterbur (late Third Age – early Fourth Age) was the owner of the Inn known as The Prancing Pony in Bree.

Barliman appears to have had a rather bad memory, "One thing drives out another" he says. He forgot to send Gandalf's letter to Frodo, leaving Frodo uncertain as to Gandalf's fate and causing him to start his journey much later than the letter indicated. He did not remember it until Frodo and his companions arrived to stay at the inn, and even then it was long before the connection was made. He did, however, remember to produce Strider's credentials.

When Gandalf finally arrives at The Prancing Pony, he's furious with Barliman's forgetfulness, but quickly forgives him when he finds out the Hobbits are alive. He even goes so far as to put a blessing on his beer.

In The Return of the King, Barliman was amazed to learn that Strider, a former patron of the Prancing Pony, had become king of Gondor and Arnor.

Barliman was a Man, but as Bree was inhabited by both Men and Hobbits, he had two hobbit employees: Bob, who worked in the stables, and Nob, a servant.

Portrayal in Adaptations

In Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings, Barliman was voiced by Alan Tilvern.

In Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring, he is played by David Weatherley, although the character is not named and most of his scenes from the book (including the reference to Gandalf's letter) are not in the film.