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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 appeared 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 arrived at The Prancing Pony, he was furious with Barliman's forgetfulness, but quickly forgave him when he found out the Hobbits are 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.

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

1978: Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings:

Barliman was voiced by Alan Tilvern.

2001: 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.

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".