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The Lord of the Rings Prologue

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A Part of the Shire map by Christopher Tolkien

The Prologue to The Lord of the Rings gives background to the nature of Hobbits and to The Hobbit.


Concerning Hobbits

A brief history of Hobbits from their origins in the Vales of Anduin, to their movement into Eriador, their trusteeship of The Shire, and the events leading up to the War of the Ring. Concerning Hobbits also provides a broad description of the physical characteristics of Hobbits, as well as their manners, customs and important families.

Concerning Pipe-weed

Explanation of the Hobbits' fascination with pipe-weed, its history (as laid out in Meriadoc Brandybuck's Herblore of the Shire) and the notable varieties of Old Toby, Longbottom Leaf and Southern Star.

Of the Ordering of the Shire

Describes the division of The Shire (North, South, East and Westfarthings; with Buckland and Westmarch), as well as the governing of The Shire (the Thain, the Mayor of Michel Delving and the Shirriffs).

Of the Finding of the Ring

Covers the chapters in The Hobbit which deal with Bilbo's finding of The One Ring.

Note on the Shire Records

Details the documentation in The Shire on the history of the War of the Ring.

History of composition

Christopher Tolkien published a detailed description of how his father composed this text in The Peoples of Middle-earth, in the first chapter "The Prologue".

"Concerning Hobbits" derives from a text providing background information on the Hobbits, written in the latter half of 1938, while rewriting the Lord of the Rings.[1]

The basis of "Concerning Pipe-weed" was a lengthy speech of Merry about pipe-weed in a draft of the chapter The Road to Isengard, eventually removed and reworked.[2]

The Prologue would include a description of hobbit gift-giving customs and the ribadyan (birthday celebrant) but it was dropped, being too lengthy.[3]

The Prologue was further worked with more background material, during Tolkien's final proofreading in 1949.[4]

Portrayal in adaptations

2001: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring:

In the first scene, titled "Prologue: One Ring to Rule Them All...", there is a brief description of how Bilbo Baggins found the One Ring, clearly related to "Of the Finding of the Ring".
"Concerning Hobbits" is the name of the second scene of the Extended Edition wherein "Concerning Hobbits" is the first chapter of Bilbo's book, in which he describes the nature of Hobbits. The audience hears Bilbo reading this aloud as a voiceover on top of scenes of life in The Shire. The scene's soundtrack composed by Howard Shore is also called "Concerning Hobbits" and is used as a primary theme of the Shire.


The Lord of the Rings
Foreword · Prologue · The Fellowship of the Ring · The Two Towers · The Return of the King · Appendices · Index