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The Adventures of Tom Bombadil

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This article is about the poetry collection titled The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. For the poem by the same name, see The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (poem).
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil cover.jpg
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
PublisherGeorge Allen and Unwin (UK)
Houghton Mifflin (US)
Released22 November 1962 (UK)
FormatHardback in dustwrapper

The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book is a collection of poetry by J.R.R. Tolkien, published in 1962. The book contains 16 poems, only two of which deal with Tom Bombadil, a character who is most famous for his encounter with Frodo Baggins in The Fellowship of the Ring, the first volume in Tolkien's best-selling The Lord of the Rings. The rest of the poems are an assortment of bestiary verse and fairy tale rhyme.

The book was originally illustrated by Pauline Baynes and later by Roger Garland.

The book, like the first edition of The Fellowship of the Ring, is presented as if it is an actual translation from the Red Book of Westmarch, and contains some background information on the world of Middle-earth which is not found elsewhere. Examples are the name of the tower at Dol Amroth and the names of the Seven Rivers of Gondor. There is some dispute about its canonical status since the information presented about the secondary world is considered only as folklore among the Hobbits.


[edit] Contents

  • Preface
  1. The Adventures of Tom Bombadil
  2. Bombadil Goes Boating
  3. Errantry
  4. Little Princess Mee
  5. The Man in the Moon Stayed Up Too Late
  6. The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon
  7. The Stone Troll
  8. Perry-the-Winkle
  9. The Mewlips
  10. Oliphaunt
  11. Fastitocalon
  12. Cat
  13. Shadow-Bride
  14. The Hoard
  15. The Sea-Bell
  16. The Last Ship

The order of the poems form a thematical progress: two poems with the titular character, two "faerie" poems, two with the Man in the Moon, two with Trolls; three "bestiary", and four "atmospheric/emotional". The Mewlips doesn't fit to a category, and placed in the middle as a divider.

Some of the proposed poems that were finally omitted were Kortirion among the Trees and The Dragon's Visit; You & Me was also possibly revisited during that process.

[edit] Development

J.R.R. Tolkien's aunt Jane Neave enjoyed the figure of Tom Bombadil and asked him if he could make a book out of him that would make an affordable Christmas present. Tolkien didn't feel that anything more could be told about Tom, but considered his earler poem about him, that would be made into an illustrated booklet,[note 1] thinking about Pauline Baynes. Rayner Unwin suggested to him to collect more poems with it so as to be a more publishable book, and Tolkien researched some older, half-forgotten poems the value of which he doubted[1][2] but as he wrote to his aunt, he enjoyed rediscovering and rubbing them up[3] and took a lot of work to re-write them.

Tolkien thought (and Baynes agreed) that the poems didn't fit together as a collection.[1] Tolkien worked a lot to make them fit with each other and into Hobbit-lore; he decided including a Foreword that would make this connection, and wrote a second poem with Tom in order to fit him better into the world of the Shire and Hobbits.[4]

[edit] Illustration

While Tolkien considered The Adventures poem very pictorial, Baynes rather suggested that his poems were rather "felt", but Tolkien insisted that his images, although fantastical and nonsensical, were definite, clear and precise.[5] Tolkien's main instruction to Baynes was that the ilustrations shouldn't be comical as even the more lighthearted poems had a serious undercurrent.

Baynes began working on the book in June 1962, collaborating with art editor Ronald Eames. She was asked for five illustrations but completed six by August and were all printed. Tolkien had criticised her illustration of The Hoard which he opted to be omitted (eventually Baynes made a new version for Poems and Stories according to his criticism). Tolkien also disagreed with the cover and its lettering but it was too late for a change.

The illustrations for Cat and Fastitocalon were messed up, and in the following reprints the order of the poems was reversed and the art adjusted.

In the end Tolkien credited for a large part Baynes for the commercial success of the book.

[edit] Expanded edition

In 2014 was published an expanded edition of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book, edited by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull. The new edition includes earlier versions of several poems and the related poem Once upon a Time. It also contains the formerly unpublished "predecessor of Perry-the-Winkle, called The Bumpus, and the complete, tantalizingly brief fragment of a prose story featuring Tom Bombadil, in the days of 'King Bonhedig'". In addition, the editors provide a new introduction and a commentary on the text.[6]

[edit] Audio performances

[edit] External links

  1. Bilbo's Last Song was published years later in such a format.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond (2006), The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: I. Chronology
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 233, (dated 15 November 1961)
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 234, (dated 22 November 1961)
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 237, (dated 12 April 1962)
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 235, (dated 6 December 1961)
  6. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, "New Tolkien Projects, Part One" dated 15 January 2014, (accessed 19 January 2014)
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