From Tolkien Gateway
Smoke Rings by Stephen Schwartz
"No, not a pipe. I don't think I'll smoke again."
Merry Brandybuck[1]

Smoking was an activity or custom begun by the Hobbits (who referred to it as an 'art'). It consisted of inhaling the smoke of the burning leaves of a herb called Pipe-weed.

The Hobbits of Bree claimed to be the first to have smoked the Pipe-weed, but the first who cultivated it was Tobold Hornblower of Longbottom of the Shire, around the year S.R. 1070. Smoking had spread from the Hobbits to Dwarves, Rangers, and Wizards.[2]

Inspiration[edit | edit source]

Tolkien lighting a pipe
"I am in fact a Hobbit (in all but size). [...] I smoke a pipe..."
Letter 213

J.R.R. Tolkien was an avid pipe smoker. He attributed his addiction to his childhood, when he watched Father Francis Xavier Morgan smoking his pipe in a specific location each time.[3]

People who had met Tolkien noticed that a pipe was almost always in his hand or mouth, often making difficult to understand his speech.[4] In a 1966 interview, Tolkien said: "Every morning I wake up thinking, 'Good, another 24 hours of smoking'".[5]

An auctioned cigar bill from early 1972 shows that Tolkien favoured Capstan Medium Navy Cut.

Portrayal in adaptations[edit | edit source]

1995-8: Middle-earth Collectible Card Game:

The card "Smoke Rings" enables the player to re-use one of his discarded characters.[6]


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Houses of Healing"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, "Prologue", "Concerning Pipe-weed"
  3. Humphrey Carpenter, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien Talks about the Discovery of Middle-earth, the Origins of Elvish by Richard Plotz, in Seventeen
  5. Charlotte and Denis Plimmer, "The Man Who Understands Hobbits", The Daily Telegraph Magazine (22 March 1968)
  6. "Smoke Rings", (accessed 26 June 2012)

External links[edit | edit source]