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The Adventures of Tom Bombadil

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
Tom Bombadil 1962.png
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
EditorWayne G. Hammond, Christina Scull (2014 edition)
IllustratorPauline Baynes
Roger Garland (1990 edition)
PublisherGeorge Allen and Unwin (UK)
Houghton Mifflin (US)
Released22 November 1962 (UK)
1963 (US)
FormatHardcover; paperback

The Adventures of Tom Bombadil and Other Verses from the Red Book is a 1962 collection of poetry by J.R.R. Tolkien. The book contains 16 poems, two of which feature Tom Bombadil, the rest of the poems are an assortment of bestiary verse and fairy tale rhyme. Three of the poems appear in The Lord of the Rings as well. The book is part of Tolkien's legendarium.

The book was originally illustrated by Pauline Baynes. 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 that is not found elsewhere: e.g. the name of the tower at Dol Amroth and the names of the Seven Rivers of Gondor. There is some fictional background information about those poems, linking them to Hobbit folklore and literature and to their supposed writers, in some cases Sam Gamgee.


[edit] Contents

The poems are all supposedly works that Hobbits enjoyed; all are in English. Several are attributed in a mock-scholarly preface to Hobbit authors or traditions. Three are also among the many poems in The Lord of the Rings.[1]

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 eventually omitted were:

Two other poems are included in the extended edition of the book (2014):

[edit] Background

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 earlier 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[2][3] but as he wrote to his aunt, he enjoyed rediscovering and rubbing them up[4] 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.[2] 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.[5]

The Illustrations

Despite Baynes suggested that his poems were rather "felt", Tolkien insisted that his images were definite, clear and precise.[6] He instructed Baynes that the illustrations "shouldn't be comical". Then she collaborated with art editor Ronald Eames, and finished six illustrations by August 1962. Though there were some criticism from Tolkien to Baynes' work, in the end, Tolkien credited for a large part Baynes for the commercial success of the book.

[edit] Extended Edition

In 2014, an extended edition of The Adventures of Tom Bombadil was published, edited by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull.

The new edition includes: an introduction by the editors, earlier versions of 13 poems with textual notes, a later 'Bombodil' poem Once upon a Time, a previously unpublished text The Bumpus — the predecessor of Perry-the-Winkle, and the complete fragment of a prose story featuring Tom Bombadil.[7]

Poem history

Many of the poems have been revised by Tolkien in the past, some even several times. The details are shown below.

  • Not revised
    • Bombadil Goes Boating
    • Cat
  • Revised, title unchanged

[edit] Publication history and gallery

UK Editions
1962 edition  
1990 edition hardcover  
1990 edition paperback  
2014 extended edition  
Audio performances

[edit] External links

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


  1. Richard C. West, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil (Review), Tolkien Studies: Volume 12
  2. 2.0 2.1 Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond (2006), The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: I. Chronology
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 233, (dated 15 November 1961)
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 234, (dated 22 November 1961)
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 237, (dated 12 April 1962)
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 235, (dated 6 December 1961)
  7. Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, "New Tolkien Projects, Part One" dated 15 January 2014, (accessed 19 January 2014)
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