The Hobbit is the first major book of which I have a conscious memory.   Probably four or five years old, I remember being with my mother visiting a friend’s house; a vague recollection, perhaps garbled, of sharing a guestroom with Wedgwood blue walls and high ceilings.

And my mother showing me this book.  The cover illustration enthralled me and was my first exposure to perspective.  For years after, I would carefully draw serried ranges of pointed peaks receding to infinity.   I also remember, a few years later, a little boy visiting us with his mother, and both mothers calling him ‘Bilbo Baggins’ due to his small-but-sturdy appearance.

So a couple of years ago, seeing a reprint of this edition, present in our house for years, I bought it and just re-read it, delighted at the rediscovery of its wit, warmth, and lively vocabulary, such as two weapons called Goblin-cleaver and Foe-hammer (63).

And a renewed appreciation of the resilient, resourceful, dapple-skilled protagonist Bilbo Baggins who ‘could do lots of things, besides blowing smoke-rings, asking riddles and cooking’ (144) and fully deserving of his own ‘imperishable songs’ (226).  As he tells Smaug the Dragon, “I am the clue-finder, the web-cutter, the stinging fly” (200).  Something to put on your business card, surely?

Choice quotations are shared in other posts.

Source: The Hobbit: or there and back again, J.R.R. Tolkien (London: HarperCollins, 1995)


  1. Michael Fanning

    Béatrice, you’ve brought back fond memories, as “The Hobbit” was an electrifying read for me as a young boy, and it guided me to the epic pleasures of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy. I was hooked from the famous opening lines of “The Hobbit”: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.”

    • beatriceotto

      Delighted Michael, thanks so much for sharing your memories of reading ‘The Hobbit’, and the opening quote. All best, Béatrice

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