The Hill: Hobbiton-across-the Water

From Tolkien Gateway

The Hill: Hobbiton-across-the Water is the title of an illustration by J.R.R. Tolkien.[1]


The illustration shows the road leading through Hobbiton to Bagshot Row and the Hobbiton Hill. Just below the Hill is seen the Party Tree. In the foreground is depicted the Water and the Old Mill. In the centre stands the Old Grange. In the distant, to the left of the Hill, one can glimpse what likely is the Bindbale Wood of the North Farthing.[2][1]


The tracing of the first, black-and-white version.

Tolkien made several sketches — at least five — before creating the final composition, first rendered as a drawing in black and white. This drawing was used as a frontispiece to the first British printing of The Hobbit in 1937. The second version (with some minor changes[note 1]), rendered in water colour by Tolkien, appeared as frontispiece to the second British impression of The Hobbit (also in 1937), and in the first American edition (1938).[1]

The coloured version has since been published several times. Early calendars reproducing the painting include The J.R.R. Tolkien Calendar 1973, The J.R.R. Tolkien Calendar 1974, and The Hobbit Calendar 1976.

In the first edition of Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien, a black-and white drawing depicting the same scene was published, said to be the ink frontispiece of the first printing of The Hobbit. However, Christopher Tolkien wrote in his foreword to the second edition of Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien that this was an error; the drawing was, as has been noted by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, "a tracing Tolkien had made of the ink frontispiece [of the first printing of The Hobbit] to transfer its outlines to a fresh sheet, on which he made the watercolour version".[3]

A passage in the last chapter of The Hobbit, describing Bilbo's return to Bag-end, suggests that Tolkien was looking at some version of the picture when it was written: “And so they crossed the bridge and passed the mill by the river and came right back to Bilbo’s own door.”


"German planes visiting Cassel" by William Orpen

Fans have speculated that Tolkien might have been inspired by the picture "German Planes visiting Cassel" (see Gallery below), painted by Sir William Orpen in 1917.[4]


  1. Most notably, perhaps, the windows of the mill and the words on the signpost, which in the drawing directs the traveller to Bag-End but in the painting to the Hill.