Bilbo Baggins

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This article is about Bilbo Baggins. For the tenth child and fifth son of Samwise Gamgee, see Bilbo Gardner.
Bilbo Baggins
"Bilbo Baggins" by Mike Szabados.
Biographical Information
Other namesSee below
PositionBurglar, Ring-bearer
LocationBag End, Hobbiton
Tol Eressëa
AffiliationThorin and Company
LanguageWestron and Sindarin
Birth22 September T.A. 2890[1]
Sailed west29 September T.A. 3021 (aged 131)
Grey Havens
Notable forThe Quest of Erebor
Recovering the One Ring
ParentageBungo Baggins and Belladonna Took[1]
SpouseNever married
Physical Description
HeightBetween 3' and 3'6''
Hair colorBrown, later White
ClothingGreen velvet breeches, red or yellow waistcoat (with brass/gold buttons), brown or green jacket, dark green hood and cloak, mithril coat, boots[2]
GalleryImages of Bilbo Baggins

Bilbo was very rich and very peculiar, and had been the wonder of the Shire for sixty years, ever since his remarkable disappearance and unexpected return.

Bilbo Baggins was a Hobbit who lived in The Shire during the final years of the Third Age. His adventure with the dwarves Thorin and company earned him a fortune, and brought the One Ring of Sauron back into knowledge.


Before his adventures, Bilbo was considered a very prim and respectable Hobbit for his polite disposition and aversion to anything out of the ordinary. He had strict culinary and hygienic principles, being often less than thrilled with the rough conditions of travel at first. But, being the son of Bungo Baggins and Belladonna Took, Bilbo had blood from two important Hobbit families, the Bagginses and the Tooks. Because of his adventurous "Tookish side" (which was sometimes conflicting with his stay-at-home "Baggins side"), Baggins was rather restless and "strange" for a Hobbit. After his return from Erebor, he was regarded much less fondly than before by his fellow Hobbits, but paid them no mind. Though considering himself happily retired from adventures, he often left his home for many days to meet with old friends and strangers, including Dwarves.

Bilbo was noteworthy as the first ring-bearer in the history of Middle-earth to give up the One Ring voluntarily; he surrendered the ring to Frodo Baggins at Gandalf's request.


Early life

Bilbo Baggins by J.R.R. Tolkien

Bilbo Baggins was born on September 22 by Shire Reckoning,[note 1] in the year 2890 of the Third Age, the son of Bungo Baggins and Belladonna Took. He was a grandson of the Old Took.[1]

During his youth Bilbo attended several parties during which he loved to listen to Gandalf's stories[3] about Dragons, Goblins and princesses and was impressed by the Wizard's fireworks. Bilbo also saw the Fell Winter, and was the last hobbit by the End of the Third Age to remember it. His role in the Winter is unknown. After the death of his parents, respectively in T.A. 2926 and T.A. 2934, he inherited Bag End. In the eyes of his neighbours, he originally seemed just like his father, a solid, sensible, unadventurous and respectable hobbit.[4] But when becoming older he started to become "strange" and often left his home for many days to meet with strangers, including Dwarves.

Eventually, Gandalf came to believe that Bilbo was the ideal person for an important task he had at hand, for Bilbo was both small-sized and adventurous. Gandalf came to the Shire to visit him in T.A. 2941 but he had disappeared again because of Elven new year.[3]

Quest of Erebor

An Unexpected Party in The Hobbit (film series)

Gandalf managed to address him on a morning, while he sat outside his hobbit-hole. He reluctantly asked Gandalf for tea next day. Indeed Gandalf came back, bringing thirteen Dwarves with him. First came Dwalin, followed by Balin, next were Fíli and Kíli, then Dori, Nori, Ori, Óin and Glóin, and at last Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, Thorin and Gandalf. The Dwarves remained in Bag End for supper and afterwards sang a song about the Sack of Erebor and explained the reasons for their unannounced coming: the Dwarves begun a quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain (and its sizable hoard) from the Dragon Smaug and Gandalf had volunteered Bilbo to be the company's burglar. Even with the Dwarves' protests and Bilbo's feeble objections, Gandalf convinced Thorin that Bilbo was the right person. Thus the Hobbit became the fourteenth member of the Company which left the Shire in T.A. 2941.[4]

Across Eriador

The Trolls by J.R.R. Tolkien

The next day, after assembling at the Green Dragon, the company's journey to the Lonely Mountain began. Thorin and company travelled through the Lone-lands along high hills and beside castles. After approximately one month, Gandalf disappeared. Oín and Gloín failed to make a fire during a rainy night, and Balin spotted a fire in the distance, which was rare in those regions, and sent Bilbo to investigate.

Bilbo saw three Trolls when he approached the camp fire. He tried to steal one of the Trolls' money purses but was discovered and captured by William, one of the trolls. He escaped the trolls but was helpless to prevent all the dwarves from being captured when they came looking for him. Gandalf, however, came in the nick of time and saved them all by imitating the Trolls' voices. This led to an argument between the Trolls, who argued until dawn, when the sun turned the Trolls to stone. Upon discovery of a troll cave, Gandalf and Thorin took two fine elvish swords from the Trolls' treasure. Bilbo discovered a small elvish blade, no longer than a small knife in size.[5] He kept it with him for the rest of his adventure, wearing it inside his breeches.[6]

In June they came to Rivendell. During their visit Bilbo met Elrond, and became enchanted with the Elves. On midsummer eve Elrond inspected the swords of Thorin and Gandalf, and looked at Thrór's Map. Elrond explained that the swords were forged in Gondolin and were named Orcrist and Glamdring. When inspecting the map Elrond found Moon letters that spoke of the back door of Erebor, which read:[7]

Stand by the grey stone when the thrush knocks, and the setting sun with the last light of Durin's Day will shine upon the keyhole.

Over the Misty Mountains

Expulsion by Donato Giancola

The next day the company left Rivendell[7] and found, with Elrond's advice, the correct way over the Misty Mountains, the High Pass. During a stormy night the company took shelter in a dry cave. When everybody was sleeping, Goblins appeared and took their ponies to Goblin-town. At this moment Bilbo woke up and after seeing that the ponies had disappeared, yelled. Goblins swarmed the cave and captured Bilbo and the dwarves. But thanks to Bilbo's yell, Gandalf awakened in time and avoided capture. Bilbo and the dwarves were brought before the Great Goblin. When he saw Thorin's sword, Orcrist, he was enraged and wanted to kill Thorin and his companions. But Gandalf came in time to save them and killed the Great Goblin. While escaping, Bilbo was carried by Dori. But when a goblin attacked Dori, he dropped Bilbo.[8]

When Bilbo's consciousness returned he picked up a strange golden ring. After wandering through the dark passages he came to the lake of Gollum. Gollum, desiring to eat the hobbit but not willing to face his blade, engaged in a riddle contest. If Bilbo won, according to the predetermined rules, Gollum would lead him to safety. If Gollum won, Bilbo would allow himself to be eaten. As Bilbo saw no other way to escape, he agreed with Gollum's proposal.[9]

Bilbo won the contest by accident, wondering out loud as he fingered the ring he had picked up, "What have I got in my pocket?" Gollum mistook this for a question, and Bilbo decided to stick to it. Gollum lost, but went back to his little island to take the ring Bilbo had picked up (as it was a magic ring) to turn himself invisible and kill the hobbit anyway. But of course the ring was not there, and Gollum, enraged, suddenly guessed that Bilbo had it. He chased Bilbo, but Bilbo unwittingly used the ring and escaped his notice. Gollum led Bilbo to the eastern door of the goblin-tunnels, through which Bilbo departed in safety.[9] Soon after leaving the caves Bilbo found his companions and used the Ring to slip past Balin, the look-out. Balin was very impressed that he hadn't noticed Bilbo and his reputation among the dwarves increased. Bilbo told Gandalf and the dwarves about his encounter with Gollum and his escape, but he said nothing of the ring. Thus he rejoined his fellow adventurers.[10]

The company had not journeyed long when they heard the howl of a Warg. On Gandalf's order they climbed in a group of trees. Bilbo, however, was not able to climb in one of the trees:[10]

He could not get into any tree, and was scuttling about from trunk to trunk, like a rabbit that has lost its hole and has a dog after it.

With the help of Dori, Bilbo managed to climb in one of the trees. Immediately thereafter, hundreds of Wargs arrived. Gandalf kept them at bay with pyrotechnical pinecones, but eventually goblins came and set the trees on fire. Even Gandalf had begun to despair when the Eagles of Gwaihir came to rescue them, taking Bilbo last. The Eagles brought them first to a wide shelf of rock on the mountain-side, where they spent the night,[10] and then to the Carrock.[11] Bilbo did not enjoy his experience being carried by his rescuers, apparently suffering from a fear of heights.[10]

Across Wilderland

From the Carrock they came to Beorn's Hall. Gandalf took only Bilbo at first, but with a story introduced the dwarves in pairs of two, convincing Beorn to invite them for dinner. Bilbo slept uneasily, fearing to be killed by Beorn, while the company spent the night in Beorn's hall. They remained in Beorn's hall, while Beorn had disappeared, for the next two days. On the third day of their stay Beorn returned and gave them mounts, bows, and stocks. He also provided them with council for their coming journey. They departed Beorn's house and traveled three days before they arrived at the edge of Mirkwood. Bilbo alone (and perhaps Gandalf) noticed that a bear still followed them. At the edge of Mirkwood they returned the ponies, and Gandalf said farewell to Bilbo and the Dwarves. Bilbo was saddened by Gandalf's parting.[11]

After many days' journey the company came to the Enchanted River. Bilbo noted that there was a boat at the other shore. Fíli threw an iron hook to grapple the boat and pulled it across the river toward them. The company crossed the river in pairs. While crossing the river, Bombur fell in. They rescued him, but he was asleep because of the river's magic and had to be carried on a litter. Eventually, the dwarves started to give up hope and sent Bilbo to climb a tree midway through the wood. Bilbo declared he could see only trees, not realising they were at the bottom of a bowl formation. Giving up hope, the company noticed campfires of the feasting Wood-elves and, despite the warnings of Beorn and Gandalf, they left the road to contact the elves. However, whenever the company tried to contact them, they extinguished the fires, leaving a complete darkness in the forest, and disappeared suddenly. Thrice the dwarves tried to contact the Elves but all of their attempts failed. After their third attempt Bilbo lost his companions.[12]

Later, a spider attacked Bilbo, who had fallen asleep. Bilbo woke up on time to defend himself with his little blade. He named his blade Sting after his first kill. Bilbo discovered that his companions had been captured by the spiders and stowed in their webs. Calling the spiders' names, he lured them away (with his ring) and came back to rescue the Dwarves. When the spiders returned, the dwarves fought them in a long battle. Eventually, the company won with no serious injuries, but found out that Thorin was missing. Unknown to Bilbo and the other Dwarves, he had been captured by the Wood-elves whose feasts they had interrupted.[12] Shortly after the fight with the spiders the remaining members of the company were also captured and brought before Thranduil, king of Mirkwood. Bilbo, with his ring, escaped notice and thus capture. He followed the elves into the Elvenking's Halls, where the dwarves refused to tell their errand to Thranduil and were locked up.[13]

Barrel Rider by Jef Murray

Later, exploring the elven halls with the aid of his magic ring, Bilbo discovered that Thorin was also captured by Thranduil and devised a plan for the dwarves to escape. One day, Galion (Thranduil's butler) and the head of the guard, were drunk, and Bilbo was able to steal the keys. He freed the Dwarves from their cells and packed them in barrels. His plan worked, with the dwarves being packed and launched into the Forest River. Poor Bilbo was forced to cling to the barrels, invisible, and grew cold and wet.[13]

He came up again spluttering and clinging to the wood like a rat, but for all his efforts he could not scramble on top. Every time he tried, the barrel rolled round and ducked him under again. It was really empty, and floated light as a cork. Though his ears were full of water, he could hear the elves still singing in the cellar above.

Upon reaching the Long Lake, Bilbo, with the aid of Thorin, Fili and Kili, searched for the barrels with Dwarves and freed them. They then went to Lake-town, where they received a warm welcome. The Master of Lake-town invited Thorin and his companions to the feast he'd organised. Despite the feigned hospitality of the Master of Lake-town and his people Bilbo had an awful cold and could hardly say anything during the banquet. The company stayed two weeks in Lake-town. They were given new ponies and provisions for many days, and they were brought, by boat, to the northern tip of the Long Lake.[14]

Encounter with the Dragon

On their way again, the party came to the Lonely Mountain when autumn waned. Thorin sent Balin, Fíli, Kíli and Bilbo to spy the Front Gate. Bilbo saw smoke coming out of the front gate, which made the party assume that Smaug was still alive. They returned to their camp and at Bilbo's suggestion they started to search for the Back Door at the western slopes of the Lonely Mountain. Eventually, the company discovered the back door. But none of them were able to open it, and Bilbo sat for days on the doorstep, thinking. Soon the dwarves began to grumble about the hobbit, but Bilbo finally solved the riddle of the thrush knocking at the last light of Durin's Day:[15]

At the very moment he heard a sharp crack behind him. There on the grey stone in the grass was an enormous thrush, nearly coal black, its pale yellow breast freckled with dark spots. Crack! It had caught a snail and was knocking it on the stone. Crack! Crack!
Suddenly Bilbo understood. Forgetting all danger he stood on the ledge and hailed the dwarves, shouting and waving.

Smaug the Mighty by Olanda Fong-Surdenas

The dwarves found that he was right, and with the key managed to open the passage.[15] Bilbo was, of course, elected to enter the passage first, taking only Balin with him. Soon Balin halted, but Bilbo went on, finding Smaug's lair and stealing a single jewelled cup before returning. While the Dwarves passed the retrieved treasure to each other and praised Bilbo for his deed, they heard the mountain rumbling. Bilbo had done ill in this, Smaug had awoken and was raged when he missed his cup. Smaug ravaged the mountain and the dwarves were forced to hide in the tunnel, though they lost their ponies. Despite their grumbling, the dwarves had begun to rely on Bilbo's advice for their course of action, and agreed to wait. Bilbo soon decided, however, to return and try and find a weakness in Smaug. Slipping on his ring, he approached the dragon's hoard.[16]

Gandalf had indeed done well in choosing Bilbo, for the old worm did not recognise Bilbo's scent, neither could see him, and was puzzled. Nevertheless he sensed the hobbit's presence, and challenged him. Knowing that it would be unwise to reveal his true name or stay quiet, Bilbo replied with a series of riddles, which no dragon can resist puzzling out. Bilbo gave himself a series of names such as "Ringwinner" and "Luckwearer", referring to his adventures on the way to the Mountain. Becoming pleased with his riddling, one of the names Bilbo conferred upon himself was "Barrel-rider", and flattered the dragon:[16]

"Well, thief! I smell you and I feel your air. I hear you breathe. Come along! Help yourself again, there is plenty and to spare!"
But Bilbo was not quite so unlearned in dragon-lore as all that, and if Smaug hoped to get him to come nearer so easily he was disappointed. "No thank you, O Smaug the Tremendous!" he replied.
"I did not come for presents. I only wished to have a look at you and see if you were truly as great as tales say. I did not believe them."
"Do you now?" said the dragon somewhat flattered, even though he did not believe a word of it.
"Truly songs and tales fall utterly short of the reality, O Smaug the Chiefest and Greatest of Calamities," replied Bilbo.
"You have nice manners for a thief and a liar," said the dragon.

Scouring the Mountain by Ted Nasmith

This confrontation did not last especially long, for Bilbo tricked Smaug into showing his underside. Bilbo then saw the gap in the dragon's hard scales, an unprotected place. Bilbo, upon seeing this, cracked a joke and hastily departed, and for this was nearly burned to death. All the same, he escaped and recovered, and told the dwarves what he had learned. This indirectly aided the company, for a thrush overheard, and this would prove beneficial in the end.[16]

Death of Smaug

As darkness fell, Bilbo urged the dwarves to close the door for fear of Smaug's vengeance. Reluctantly, but at last, they gave in. Just as the door closed, Smaug ravaged the side of the mountain, blocking up the door and destroying the doorstep. However, by mentioning the word "Barrel-rider", Bilbo had led Smaug to believe that the company had been aided by the people of Laketown.[16] Thus, Smaug wreaked his vengeance on Laketown. Smaug destroyed the town, but one company of archers, led by Bard, resisted the dragon. When only one arrow, the Black Arrow, remained, a Thrush, who had overheard Bilbo talking about the unprotected patch of Smaug's skin, fluttered around Bard's shoulder. The Thrush passed his knowledge on to Bard who, armed with the knowledge, shot Smaug dead. Smaug fell onto the town, which was devastated by the dragon's attack, but Bard survived and swam to the shores of the lake. There, Bard, an heir of Girion of Dale, was proclaimed by the people to be king of restored Dale. Bard summoned Thranduil to help rebuild Laketown and Dale in return for part of the treasure. The armies of Mirkwood and Lake-town joined together and marched to the Lonely Mountain to take their share of the treasure.[17]

Meanwhile, in the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo and the dwarves decided to inspect the hoard while Smaug was away. During this time Bilbo stumbled across a gigantic and beautiful gem. Recalling an earlier conversation, Bilbo realised that it was the famous Arkenstone, but felt strangely reluctant to give it up. Instead, he put it in his pocket and continued on. After a song and gathering of treasure, Thorin gave Bilbo a beautiful coat of mithril as the first reward for his services. Thorin led the party to the front gate, and then Balin led them to the guardroom, where they sheltered.[18]

After Bilbo and his companions awoke the next morning they found that many birds, including the aforementioned Trush, assembled at the Lonely Mountain. Although the Thrush tried to say something to the company, none of them could understand him. Therefore the Thrush summoned the raven Roäc, who was able to speak Westron. Roäc told Bilbo and the dwarves about the events in Lake-town and told Thorin about the approaching armies. He counseled them to make peace with Bard and Thranduil, though it cost them dearly in gold. Thorin rejected this advice and announced that he would not share the treasure with anyone. Then, Thorin sent Roäc as a messenger to his nephew Dáin, lord of the Iron Hills, to request aid. The next days they made preparations and blocked the gate with a wall, while they received news from the ravens.[19]

Battle of the Five Armies and return journey

When Bard and Thranduil came to the Front gate, Thorin harshly responded in polite words to Bard. Bard's reasoning did little for the stubborn King under the Mountain and Thorin rejected Bard's proposal to share the treasure.[19] Bilbo feared war, and to prevent this gave the Arkenstone into the hands of Bard for negotiation. With the praise of Bard, Thranduil, and Gandalf he returned, only to be rejected and cast away for his deed by Thorin. But Bilbo was successful in that Thorin was willing to negotiate, and war was prevented temporarily.

And yet war did come. Dáin II Ironfoot, at the summons of Thorin, came from the Iron Hills with an army of Dwarves. Bard refused to let the dwarves enter the mountain, which would mean a long and almost certainly unsuccessful siege. But just as battle was about to be joined, Gandalf called them all to be wary of the new coming danger - the alliance of Wargs and Goblins against them. Dáin, Bard, and Thranduil took council together, and decided upon a strategy of defending the slopes of the Lonely Mountain. Then the enemy came. Thus was the Battle of Five Armies fought.

The Death of Thorin Oakenshield by Darrell Sweet

During the battle Bilbo stood with Thranduil and Gandalf on Ravenhill. As the battle went against the Men, Dwarves, and Elves, Bilbo reflected gloomily on the ingloriousness of war and the bitterness of the end. But then the Eagles of Gwaihir came, and Beorn too, and the battle was won. But Bilbo did not see this result, for a falling stone knocked him out. Invisible as he was, his bruised body was not discovered until the next day. Bilbo then bade farewell to the mortally wounded Thorin and his other friends.

The victors divided the treasure and Bard took Bilbo's fourteenth share of the gold and silver in return for the Arkenstone. Bilbo, despite having forfeited his share, was offered a rich reward but refused to take more than two small chests of gold and silver. When Bilbo and Gandalf bid farewell to Thranduil Bilbo gave him a necklace of silver and pearls. Thranduil gave the hobbit the title "Elf-friend" and then he returned with Gandalf to the Shire. There he discovered that he was believed dead, and an auction was going on of his house and possessions. He bought back his own things, and settled once more peacefully into Bag End.

Years between

Bilbo lived on in health and comfort. He was considered somewhat of an oddity, because of his unexplained wealth and his travelling nature and also because he stopped growing old at 50, these of course having their explanation in his previous adventure.[20]

Occasionally he received strange visitors; dwarves or Gandalf, or he often left the Shire for journeys from time to time. Other hobbits looked at him with amazement and suspicion, but his generous and kind nature put him high in the regard of those who knew him best especially the poorest and less significant hobbits.[20]

Although he had no close friends, he maintained visiting relations with his relatives (except the Sackville-Bagginses) and especially favored young Frodo Baggins, his cousin from both the side of his father and mother; and with whom they shared same birthday. Frodo was an orphan living in Brandy Hall, crowded with "queer" Bucklander relatives, until T.A. 2989 when Bilbo adopted Frodo as his heir, and raised him in Bag End. Together they celebrated lively their common birthdays and Bilbo was notorious for his (inevitable) after-dinner speeches, reciting boring poetry and, after drinking, allusions to his absurd adventures.[20] The two went often out for long walks along the lanes of the Water-valley and talked about adventure; they were often seen by Wandering Companies of Elves (although the hobbits did not see them). When they returned home Bilbo often told Frodo that the Road is like a big dangerous river and all porches are its "springs" and all paths are its "tributaries".[21]

Most of his time was spent reading, writing his memoirs, which only Frodo was allowed to read, writing poetry, translating Elvish and avoiding his nasty relatives. Young Sam Gamgee started helping his father tending the garden, whom Bilbo taught reading and writing and also some poetry and lore,[20] such as The Fall of Gil-galad (which Sam wrongly believed Bilbo composed himself).[22]

Despite his health and youthfulness, Bilbo himself began to feel stretched and thin. As time passed and he used his magic ring (and perhaps because of Sauron's growing power), his mind was preoccupied with it, often worrying if it is safe and checking on it; once he tried locking it somewhere but he couldn't relax if it wasn't in his pocket, and wanted to use it more often. Sometimes he felt it like "an eye" watching on him.[20]

Bilbo's Farewell Party

At last, in September of T.A. 3001, Bilbo threw a grand party for his 111th birthday (which happened to be shared with Frodo) that was long prepared and Bilbo became the favorite matter of gossip for the region. During this party he did a vanishing act with his ring and sneaked to Bag End. He only took with him a book that he was composing, his sword Sting, his mithril coat, and a dark green hood and cloak which had been given to him by Thorin years before. He attempted to leave the Ring for Frodo, along with Bag End and the rest of his possessions, but had an internal struggle; he left it only thanks to the urging of Gandalf, and Bilbo was the first ringbearer to give up the One Ring in this way. Three Dwarven companions were working on his farewell gifts, and left for the east with them.[20]

On his way to the east he passed through Woody End and said farewell to Gildor and other Elves at their encampment above Woodhall.[23] The next year he visited Rivendell and became a guest of Elrond[24] and apparently he met Gildor once more again around there.[23][note 2]

End of the Third Age

Bilbo in Rivendell by Matěj Čadil

He lived a very pleasant life of retirement in Rivendell: eating, sleeping, writing poetry, and working on his memoir, There and Back Again and wrote a book called Translations from the Elvish.

When Frodo came to Rivendell seventeen years later, they reunited in the Hall of Fire. While alone, Bilbo mentioned his old ring to Frodo, wishing to see it, but Frodo refused and a shadow fell upon the two. Bilbo briefly turned into a fleshy figure, though he quickly apologized. Shortly afterwards Bilbo finishes composing (with Aragorn; whom he calls the Dúnadan) the Song of Eärendil.[25]

Bilbo attended the Council of Elrond, offering to take the Ring to Mount Doom. Nevertheless this task fell to the younger Frodo, and in farewell Bilbo gave him Sting and his old mithril coat, both of which served Frodo well in the struggles to come.

The War of the Ring was fought far from where Bilbo dwelt, but successfully, and in the end Frodo returned home. Because of the Ring's destruction, that prolonged his life, Bilbo started ageing again; as Arwen told to Frodo later, Bilbo started looking ancient according to his kind.[26]

Passage west

Departure at the Grey Havens by Ted Nasmith

Two years later, however, Bilbo as a former ringbearer accompanied Frodo Baggins, Gandalf, and certain Elves to the Grey Havens, there to take ship for the West, on 29 September, T.A. 3021. He had already celebrated his 131st birthday, becoming the oldest Hobbit in the history of Middle-earth. As a mortal, he died in the West.

While sailing west, Bilbo composed a last poem looking back on Middle-earth in farewell.


Already an eccentric during his life in Hobbiton, the disappearance of the "Mad Baggins" was a long-lasting discussion around the Shire. Many speculated that he got mad and seeking adventures he found his death in a river or pool, with Gandalf being responsible for not letting him settle down. Meanwhile Frodo, knowing that he is alive and well somewhere, continued to honor Bilbo's birthday along with his, every year.[27] Bilbo thus was one of the many legendary hobbits that were incited by Gandalf to seek adventures; and other hobbit figures of traditions (such as his uncles Hildifons and Isengar[28] or Basso Boffin) that were taken by the 'wandering-madness', either lost for ever, or returning to remain eccentric and uncommunicable.[29]

Many years after his second "disappearance" he became a fireside-story for hobbit-children, a legendary figure who used to vanish magically and reappear with bags of treasure.[27]

Sam Gamgee named his tenth child Bilbo after his hero.[30]

The keepers of the Red Book who copied and translated it were unwilling to make alterations to Bilbo's own text, out of respect for the hero of old, and stuck close to it and its faults. But other later copiers of the Book, based on other notes, wrote the true account on the finding of the Ring, resulting to the two differing versions of the story.[31]

Literary work

Bilbo was not assiduous, nor an orderly narrator, and his account is involved and discursive, and sometimes confused: faults that still appear in the Red Book, since the copiers were pious and careful, and altered very little.


Within the legendarium, "Bilbo" represents a translation of the original Hobbitish Bilba.[32]

John D. Rateliff has suggested that the name Bilbo is very likely a name invented by Tolkien, a "short, simple, made-up name appropriate for a hero of a children's book or light-hearted fantasy story".[33]

It has also been noted by Jim Allan that bilbo is a kind of Spanish sword deriving its name from Bilbao. The element bil ("sword") is found in some Germanic names (such as Bilihar).[34]

According to the Bosworth-Toller Anglo-Saxon Dictionary, a dictionary of Old English, the element bil refers to either a farming or military blade, significant in that it must have two edges.[35] The element , equivalent to , means both.[36]

Other names

  • Barrel-rider, given by himself during his conversation with Smaug, used also by the dragon.[16]
  • Bilba Labingi, the original Hobbitish name for "Bilbo Baggins".[32]
  • Burglar, given by Gandalf, which he wrote in Bilbo's door.[4]
  • Child of the Kindly West, given by Thorin II Oakenshield.[37]
  • Clue-finder, given by himself during his conversation with Smaug.[16]
  • Elf-friend, given by Thranduil.[37]
  • Luckwearer, given by himself during his conversation with Smaug.[16]
  • Mad Baggins, first given by Rorimac Brandybuck after Bilbo disappeared suddenly from his Birthday Party.[38] It later became the name of a favourite character of legend who would vanish with a bang and a flash, only to reappear with bags of jewels and gold.[39]
  • Mr. Lucky Number, given by Smaug.[16]
  • Bilbo the Magnificent, given by Thranduil.[37]
  • Ring-bearer, for his bearing of the One Ring.
  • Ringwinner, given by himself during his conversation with Smaug.[16]
  • Stinging Fly, given by himself during his conversation with Smaug.[16]
  • Thief, from Gollum after Bilbo stole the One Ring. Smaug also used it after he stole a cup.[9]
  • Web-cutter, given by himself during his conversation with Smaug.[16]


Family tree of the Bagginses of Hobbiton

Showing the prominent members of the Baggins clan.[40] The figures after the names are those of birth (and death where that is recorded). A dashed line indicates marriage, or when extended vertically, indicates a line of descent with one or more generations not shown. Names in italics signify those who attended Bilbo's Farewell Party on 22 September S.R. 1401. Names in parentheses represent significant hobbits related to the Baggins.

Balbo Baggins
Berylla Boffin
Laura Grubb
Fastolph Bolger
Mimosa Bunce
Tanta Hornblower
Togo Goodbody
Belladonna Took
Rudigar Bolger
Camellia Sackville
Bodo Proudfoot
Chica Chubb
Hildigrim Took
Ruby Bolger
[Note 1][41]
Otho Sackville-Baggins
Lobelia Bracegirdle
(Odo Proudfoot)
Falco Chubb-Baggins
Gilly Brownlock
Wilibald Bolger
[Note 2][42]
Primula Brandybuck
[Note 3][43]
Filibert Bolger
Milo Burrows
[Note 4][41]
Griffo Boffin
(Peregrin Took)
(Meriadoc Brandybuck)
(Various Goodbodies)

Family tree notes

  1. Of Bag End, left the Shire in S.R. 1421 and said to have passed over the sea
  2. Drogo and Primula went boating on the Brandywine River and drowned together.
  3. Murdered by Gríma Wormtongue
  4. Left the Shire in S.R. 1421 and said to have passed over the sea

Portrayal in adaptations

Bilbo Baggins in adaptations
Bilbo in The Hobbit (1966 film)
Bilbo in The Hobbit (1977 film)
Bilbo in The Lord of the Rings (1978 film)
Bilbo in The Return of the King (1980 film)
Bilbo in J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Ring, Vol. I
Bilbo in The Lord of the Rings (film series)
Bilbo in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game)
Bilbo in The Hobbit (2003 video game)
Bilbo in The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest
Bilbo in The Lord of the Rings Online
Bilbo in The Hobbit (film series)
Young Bilbo in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey


1966: The Hobbit (1966 film):

Many characters are omitted, and Bilbo takes over the roles of several. He causes the "Groans" (substitutes for the trolls) to quarrel, and he kills the dragon Slag with the Arkenstone. At the end, he marries the princess of Dale.[44]

1977: The Hobbit (1977 film):

Orson Bean was the voice of Bilbo.

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

Norman Bird was the voice of Bilbo, and Billy Barty the body double. Although Bilbo returned to physical aging after giving up the ring, when we see Bilbo again in Rivendell, he has not physically aged.

1980: The Return of the King (1980 film):

Orson Bean reprised his role as Bilbo. He lives in Rivendell, and listens to the tale of Frodo of the Nine Fingers. Some archive footage from Rankin/Bass' The Hobbit is also shown at the start of the film.

1985: The Fairytale Adventures of Mr. Baggins, the Hobbit (1985 film):

Mikhail Danilov played Bilbo.

2001-03: The Lord of the Rings (film series):

Bilbo is played by Ian Holm, who also played Frodo Baggins in the radio series 20 years earlier. Although the book states that he didn't visibly age after finding the Ring, Holm portrays Bilbo somehow older than he should look. In his brief appearance in the Prologue showing the finding of the Ring, he is disguised to look younger.

2012-14: The Hobbit (film series):

Ian Holm reprised his role as an older Bilbo,[45] whilst the younger Bilbo was portrayed by Martin Freeman.[46] A description of Bilbo in The Hobbit films was released by the studio:

Like all Hobbits, Bilbo Baggins is fond of his comfortable existence; all he needs to be happy is a full pantry and a good book. When the Wizard Gandalf and 13 Dwarves unexpectedly appear on Bilbo’s doorstep and invite him to join them on a dangerous adventure, Bilbo’s life changes forever. Initially sceptical of the invitation, Bilbo’s spirit of adventure leads him to join the Company of Thorin Oakenshield and become the “burglar” required to complete their quest to outwit a ferocious dragon and reclaim the Dwarves’ stolen treasure. To everyone’s surprise, including his own, Bilbo’s wit and courage prove that there is indeed more to this Hobbit than meets the eye.

Radio series

1955: The Lord of the Rings (1955 radio series):

The voice of Bilbo is provided by Felix Felton.

1968: The Hobbit (1968 radio series):

Bilbo is portrayed by Paul Daneman, and several times, when he introduces himself, he spells out his last name ("B-A-GG-I-N-S").

1979: The Lord of the Rings (1979 radio series):

The voice of Bilbo is provided by Ray Reinhardt.

1979: The Hobbit (1979 radio series):

The voice of Bilbo is provided by Ray Reinhardt.

1980: Der Hobbit (1980 German radio series):

Bilbo is played by Horst Bollman.

1981: The Lord of the Rings (1981 radio series):

Bilbo is portrayed by John Le Mesurier.

1989: Hobit (1989 Slovak radio series):

The voice of Bilbo Baggins is provided by Peter Bzdúch.

1992: Der Herr der Ringe (1992 German radio series):

Bilbo is played by Klaus Herm.

2001-2003: Pán prsteňov (2001-2003 Slovak radio series):

The voice of Bilbo Baggins is provided by Marián Labuda. Though Bilbo appears as a character in the same scenes he does in the novel's narrative, his primary role is that of an omniscient, overarching narrator of the entire series. This is portrayed as Bilbo reading from and commenting on the War of the Ring while writing new chapters in the Red Book of Westmarch. There is a slightly metafictional or postmodern tone to Bilbo's narration, as he occassionally breaks the fourth wall and addresses his nephew Frodo (and sometimes other characters from the Fellowship) directly, with Frodo or the other characters sometimes equally breaking the fourth wall and briefly responding to Bilbo. Until his journey to the Grey Havens at the end of the story, Bilbo spends almost its entirety in Rivendell (from where he narrates and writes the Red Book and notes for it). The prologue about hobbits and the events of his 111th birthday are briefly summarized by Bilbo at the start of the first episode and then the action shifts towards Frodo and Gandalf, and then to Frodo and his three hobbit companions.

Video games

1982: The Hobbit (1982 video game):

Bilbo Baggins is the main character of the game. Together with his companion, Thorin, he travels to the Lonely Mountain. There they plunder Smaug's lair.[48]

1990: J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, Vol. I (1990 video game):

Bilbo Baggins first appear in the introduction of the game, in which Bilbo's Farewell Party appears.
Bilbo makes a second appeareance in Rivendell, where he can be found in the bedrooms. He asks the player about the Ring and gives him Sting and a mithril mail.[49]

2002: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game):

The first time that the game references to Bilbo is during the introduction, when Gandalf mentions that Bilbo won the Ring from Gollum.[50] He also makes an appearance in Rivendell, after the Council of Elrond. When Frodo comes to say goodbye he gives him Sting and his mithril shirt.[51] He is voiced by Jim Piddock.

2003: The Hobbit (2003 video game):

Bilbo is the main protagonist and the titular playable character of the game. The story of The Hobbit is adapted rather faithfully, but many additional side-adventures for Bilbo are present, involving him killing multiple enemies. He performs several quests in the Shire before reaching Green Dragon, saves an elf named Lianna in Troll cave, rescues a Dwarf named Balfor from Goblin-Town, uncovers a treachery among men of Lake-Town and helps Dwarves restore ancient working of Erebor, among other things. He is portrayed with red hair and is voiced by Michael Beattie.

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Bilbo is a non-playable character, who resides at the Last Homely House in Rivendell. The player can find him at the Hall of Fire, chatting with Lindir. Among other things, he sends the players to Goblin-Town with a task to verify several directions and turns in the place, which he had forgotten, but requires for the book he is writing.

2010: The Lord of the Rings: Aragorn's Quest:

Bilbo appears in Rivendell.

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

Bilbo is present in Rivendell, where players can discuss with him various topics at different stages of the story.


  1. How the date of Bilbo's (and Frodo's) birthday corresponds with our calendar is a matter of debate. Appendix D of The Lord of the Rings says that our New Year's Day (January 1) corresponds "more or less" to the Shire's "January 9", and in standard years our September 14 and the Shire's "September 22" both fall 256 days after that date. However, Appendix D also says that the Shire calendar's "Midyear's Day" is "intended to correspond as nearly as possible to the summer solstice." In the Shire calendar, "September" (Halimath) 22 is 83 days after Midyear's Day. If we take the summer solstice to be our June 21, then Bilbo's and Frodo's birthday must be 83 days later, which is our September 12.
  2. Gildor says he met Bilbo a second time far from the Shire, and as Gildor presumably is one of the Elves of Rivendel, it's possible they met at or near Rivendell.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 27, (dated March or April 1938)
  3. 3.0 3.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), Unfinished Tales, "The Quest of Erebor"
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Roast Mutton"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Riddles in the Dark"
  7. 7.0 7.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Short Rest"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Over Hill and Under Hill"
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Riddles in the Dark"
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Out of the Frying-Pan into the Fire"
  11. 11.0 11.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Queer Lodgings"
  12. 12.0 12.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Flies and Spiders"
  13. 13.0 13.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Barrels Out of Bond"
  14. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "A Warm Welcome"
  15. 15.0 15.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "On the Doorstep"
  16. 16.00 16.01 16.02 16.03 16.04 16.05 16.06 16.07 16.08 16.09 16.10 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Inside Information"
  17. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Fire and Water"
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Not at Home"
  19. 19.0 19.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Gathering of the Clouds"
  20. 20.0 20.1 20.2 20.3 20.4 20.5 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Long-expected Party"
  21. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Three is Company"
  22. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Knife in the Dark"
  23. 23.0 23.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Three is Company"
  24. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Third Age"
  25. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "Many Meetings"
  26. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "Many Partings"
  27. 27.0 27.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Shadow of the Past"
  28. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix C, "Took of Great Smials"
  29. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, "Preface"
  30. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "Prologue", "Of the Finding of the Ring"
  31. 32.0 32.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Peoples of Middle-earth, "II. The Appendix on Languages", pp. 48-50
  32. J.R.R. Tolkien, John D. Rateliff (ed.), The History of The Hobbit: One-volume Edition, pp. 47-8
  33. Jim Allan (1978), An Introduction to Elvish, "Etymological Excursion", p. 184
  34. "BIL", Bosworth-Toller Anglo-Saxon Dictionary (accessed 25 August 2015)
  35. "", Bosworth-Toller Anglo-Saxon Dictionary (accessed 25 August 2015)
  36. 37.0 37.1 37.2 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Return Journey"
  37. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Long-expected Party"
  38. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Shadow of the Past"
  39. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix C, "Baggins of Hobbiton"
  40. 41.0 41.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Chief Days from the Fall of Barad-dûr to the End of the Third Age"
  41. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Long-expected Party"
  42. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Scouring of the Shire"
  43. "The Hobbit.mp4" dated 5 January 2012, YouTube (accessed 10 January 2012)
  44. Peter Jackson, "One comment that..." dated 22 April 2011, Facebook (accessed 23 December 2011)
  45. Peter Jackson, "Production begins in New Zealand on The Hobbit" dated 20 March 2011, Facebook (accessed 23 December 2011)
  46. Warner Bros., "Hobbit Movies" dated 7 September 2012, Apple iPhone/iPad App (accessed 19 September 2012)
  47. Phil Garratt, "Software Review: The Hobbit", (accessed 23 December 2011)
  48. Chris Wallner, "Lord Of The Rings: Volume 1 - Walkthrough", (accessed 2 March 2012)
  49. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game), Introduction
  50. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (video game), Rivendell
Bilbo Baggins
Baggins Family
Born: 22 September T.A. 2890 Died: Unknown
Preceded by:
T.A. 2941 - 22 September T.A. 3001
Followed by:
Frodo Baggins

Members of Thorin and Company
Thorin · Balin · Dwalin · Fíli · Kíli · Dori · Nori · Ori · Óin · Glóin · Bifur · Bofur · Bombur · Gandalf · Bilbo Baggins
Route of Thorin and Company
Bag End · Green Dragon · The Shire · Lone-lands · Last Bridge · Trollshaws · Trolls' lair · Rivendell · High Pass · Front Porch · Goblin-town · Goblin-gate · Eagle's Eyrie · Carrock · Beorn's Hall · Wilderland · Forest Gate · Elf-path · Mirkwood · Elvenking's Halls · Forest River · Lake-town · Long Lake · River Running · Desolation of the Dragon · Ravenhill · Back Door · Lonely Mountain · Great Hall of Thráin
Ring-bearers of the One Ring
Sauron (S.A. 1600 - 3441) · Isildur (S.A. 3441 - 25 September, T.A. 2) · Déagol (c. 2463) · Sméagol (c. 2463 - 2941) · Bilbo Baggins (2941 - 22 September, 3001) · Frodo Baggins (22 September, 3001 - 13 March, 3019) · Samwise Gamgee (13 March, 3019 - 14 March, 3019) · Frodo Baggins (14 March, 3019 - 25 March, 3019) · Gollum (25 March, T.A. 3019)
Also briefly held the Ring: Gandalf (13 April, T.A. 3018) · Tom Bombadil (27 September, T.A. 3018)
Attendees of the Council of Elrond
Aragorn · Bilbo Baggins · Frodo Baggins · Boromir · Elrond · Erestor · Galdor · (Samwise Gamgee) · Gandalf · Gimli · Glóin · Glorfindel · Legolas
The Hobbit film series
Source material: The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
Films An Unexpected Journey (extended editionThe Desolation of Smaug (extended edition) · The Battle of the Five Armies (extended edition)
Music An Unexpected Journey (Special Edition) · The Desolation of Smaug (Special Edition) · The Battle of the Five Armies (Special Edition) · "Song of the Lonely Mountain" · "I See Fire" · "The Last Goodbye"
Tie-in books An Unexpected Journey Official Movie Guide · Visual Companion · Movie Storybook · Annual 2013 · Chronicles: Art & Design · Chronicles: Creatures & Characters · The World of Hobbits
The Desolation of Smaug Official Movie Guide · Visual Companion · Movie Storybook · Annual 2014 · Chronicles: Art & Design · Chronicles: Cloaks & Daggers · Smaug: Unleashing the Dragon · Activity Book · Sticker Book · Ultimate Sticker Collection
The Battle of the Five Armies Official Movie Guide · Visual Companion · Movie Storybook · Annual 2015 · Chronicles: Art & Design · Chronicles: The Art of War · Activity Book
Video games Kingdoms of Middle-earth · Armies of The Third Age · Lego The Hobbit
Characters Bilbo · Thorin · Gandalf · Balin · Fíli · Kíli · Dwalin · Dori · Nori · Ori · Óin · Glóin · Bifur · Bofur · Bombur · Smaug · Radagast · Elrond · Galadriel · Saruman · Azog · Bolg · Thranduil · Legolas · Tauriel · Bard · Bain · Tilda · Sigrid · Master of Lake-town · Alfrid · Dáin Ironfoot · Necromancer · Bert · William · Tom · Beorn · Thráin · Thrór · Goblin King · Gollum · Frodo
The Lord of the Rings film series
Source material: The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
Films The Fellowship of the Ring (extended editionThe Two Towers (extended edition) · The Return of the King (extended edition)
Music The Fellowship of the Ring (The Complete Recordings) · The Two Towers (The Complete Recordings) · The Return of the King (The Complete Recordings) · "May It Be" · "Gollum's Song" · "Into the West"
Tie-in books Official Movie Guide · The Making of the Movie Trilogy · Complete Visual Companion · Gollum: How We Made Movie Magic · There and Back Again: An Actor's Tale · Weapons and Warfare · The Art of The Lord of the Rings · Sketchbook
The Fellowship of the Ring Visual Companion · The Art of The Fellowship of the Ring
The Two Towers Visual Companion · Photo Guide · The Art of The Two Towers
The Return of the King Visual Companion · The Art of The Return of the King
Video games The Two Towers · The Return of the King · The Third Age · Tactics · Conquest · Aragorn's Quest · Lego The Lord of the Rings
Characters Frodo · Bilbo · Gandalf · Sam · Merry · Pippin · Gandalf · Aragorn · Boromir · Legolas · Gimli · Elrond · Galadriel · Théoden · Éomer · Éowyn · Saruman · Sauron · Witch-king · Denethor · Faramir · Gollum · Gríma · Treebeard · Celeborn · Haldir · Lurtz · Sharku · Grishnákh