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Barliman Butterbur

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Barliman Butterbur
John Howe - Barliman Butterbur.jpg
Biographical Information
LocationThe Prancing Pony, Bree
Birthlate Third Age
Deathearly Fourth Age
Physical Description
Hair colorNone
ClothingWhite apron
GalleryImages of Barliman Butterbur

Barliman Butterbur (late Third Age – early Fourth Age) was the owner of the Inn known as The Prancing Pony in Bree. He had two hobbit employees: Bob, who worked in the stables, and Nob, a servant.

Barliman appeared to have had a rather bad memory, "One thing drives out another" he says.



During the War of the Ring, Gandalf wrote a letter to Frodo and told Barliman to send it to Hobbiton. Barliman could not find anyone for the task, and eventually forgot the letter altogether, leaving Frodo uncertain as to Gandalf's fate and causing him to start his journey much later than the letter indicated.[1]

He did not remember it until autumn, when 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.[1]

When Gandalf finally arrived at The Prancing Pony, he was furious with Barliman's forgetfulness, but quickly forgave him when he found out the Hobbits were alive. He even went so far as to put a blessing on his beer.

After the War of the Ring, Barliman was amazed to learn that Strider, a former patron of the Prancing Pony, had become king of Gondor and Arnor.

Other Versions of the Legendarium

In the first version of the events at the Prancing Pony, written in pencil, the name of the innkeeper was "Timothy Titus", a name from an old incomplete story by Tolkien (in which the character bore no resemblance to Mr. Butterbur). "Timothy Titus" was written over in ink with the name "Barnabas Butterbur" in Tolkien's manuscript and was created as a very fat Hobbit before he was subsequently changed into the man called "Barliman".[2]


Barliman means "barley-man", a suitable name for an ale-brewer.[3]

Portrayal in adaptations

1978: The Lord of the Rings (1978 film):

Barliman was voiced by Alan Tilvern.

2001: The Lord of the Rings: 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.

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Barliman is a non-playable character that can be found at the Prancing Pony. The player meets with him during Volume I Shadows of Angmar, Book I: Stirrings in the Darkness, Foreword: "An Unwanted Guest".

2011: The Lord of the Rings: War in the North:

Barliman Butterbur is the inn-keeper, and can be found behind the bar in the Prancing Pony. He tells the player news about troubles in the south, and Southernors who have come lately to Bree, and information about the Prancing Pony, that it almost exists as long as Bree.[4]


  1. 1.0 1.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Strider"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The First Phase: VIII. Arrival at Bree, Notes", note 3
  3. 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, pp. 754-5
  4. The Lord of the Rings: War in the North, Prologue