When the bright fire of Arien the Sun came into the World and there arose the race of Men, it is claimed that in that same Age there also arose in the East the Halfling people said to be related to Men, yet they were smaller than Dwarves, and the span of their lives was about a hundred years.
Nothing is known of the Hobbits of race before 1050 of the Third Age, when it is said they lived with the Northmen in the northern Vales of Anduin between the Misty Mountains and the Greenwood. In that century an evil force entered the Greenwood and it was soon renamed Mirkwood. It was perhaps this event which forced the Hobbit people out of the Vales. For in the centuries that followed, the Hobbits migrated westwards over the Misty Mountains into Eriador, where they discovered both Elves and Men in open fertile land.
All Hobbits, both male and female, shared certain characteristics. All measured between two and four feet in height; they were long-fingered, possessed of a well-fed and cheerful countenance, and had curly brown hair upon their heads and peculiar shoeless, oversized feet. An unassuming, conservative people, they judged their peers by their conformity to quiet Hobbit village life. Excessive behavior or adventurous endeavor were discouraged and considered indiscreet. The excess of Hobbits were limited to dressing in bright colors and consuming six substantial meals a day. Their one eccentricity was the art of smoking Pipe-weed, which they claimed as their one contribution to the culture of the World.
It is said Hobbits were of three Strains. These were named the Harfoots, the Fallohides and the Stoors.
The Harfoots, the most numerous of Hobbit strains, were also the smallest. They had nut-brown skin and hair. They loved hill lands and had often enjoyed the company of dwarves. These Harfoots were the first of the Hobbit people to cross over the Misty Mountains and enter Eriador.
Nearly a century later, in the year 1150 of the Third Age, the Fallohides followed their kindred Harfoots and crossed the mountains. They entered Eriador by way of the passes of Rivendell. The fallohides were the least numerous of Hobbit strains. They were taller, thinner and were thought to be more adventurous than their kin. Their skin and hair were fairer, and they preferred woodlands and the company of Elves. They preferred hunting to ploughing, and of all Hobbits demonstrated the greatest traits of leadership.
The Stoors were the last of the Hobbits to enter Eriador. The most Mannish of their race, they were bulkier than the other strains and, to the amazement of their kin, some could actually grow beards. They were the most southerly of the Hobbits in the vales of Anduin and they chose to live on flat river lands; again in a very un-hobbit-like fashion they knew the arts of boating, fishing and swimming. They were the only Hobbits to use footwear; in muddy weathers, it was claimed, they wore boots. It is said that the Stoors did not begin their western migration until the year 1300, when many passed over the Redhorn Pass; yet small settlements remained in such areas as the Gladden fields as many as twelve centuries later.
For the most part the Hobbits of Eriador moved into the Mannish lands near the town of Bree. In the year 1601 most of the Hobbits of Bree marched westwards again to the fertile lands beyond the Brandywine River. There they founded the Shire, the land that was thereafter recognized as the homeland of Hobbits. Hobbits reckon time from this date.
By nature the Hobbits had peace-loving temperaments and by great luck they had discovered a land that was as peaceful as it was fertile. So, except for the Great Plague of 1636 which devastated all the peoples of Eriador, it was not until the year 2747 that an armed encounter took place in the Shire. This was a minor Orc raid which the Hobbits rather grandly named the Battle of Greenfields. More serious by far was the Long Winter of 2758 and the two famine years that followed. Yet, compared to the other peoples of Middle-earth, they lived in peace for a long time; other races, when they saw them, believed them to be of little worth, and in return the Hobbits had no ambitions towards great wealth or power of others. Their limitations proved their strength, for, while greater and more powerful races fell about them, the Hobbits lived on in the Shire quietly tending their crops. Throughout the Shire lands their little townships and settlements expanded; Hobbiton, Tuckborough, Michel Delving, Oatbarton, Frogmorton and a dozen more; and after their fashion Hobbits prospered.
Of famous Hobbits little can be said before the thirtieth century of the Third Age of Sun, for before that time the entire race was almost totally unknown to the World at large. Yet, of course, the Hobbits themselves had their own sense of famous. In the lore of the Shire the first Hobbit to be named were the Fallohide brothers Marcho and Blanco, who led the Hobbits out of Bree over the Bridge of Stonebows into the Shire. This land had been ceded by the Dúnedain of Arnor, to whose king the Hobbits paid nominal allegiance in return. In 1979 the last king of Arnor vanished from the North and in the Shire the office of the Thain of the Shire was set up. The first Thain was the Hobbit Bucca of the Marish from whom all the Thains descended.
A giant among Hobbits was Bandobras Took, who stood four feet and five inches tall, and, astride a horse, he had led his people valiantly against the Orcs in the Battle of Greenfields. With a club, it is claimed, he slew their chieftain Golfimbul. For his size and deeds he was called Bullroarer Took. Another Hobbit notable for his deeds within the small land of the Shire was Isengrim Took, who was named Isengrim II, the twenty-second Thain of the Shire, architect of the Great Smials of Michel Delving and grandfather of Bandobras Took.
Yet typically among Hobbits perhaps the most honored of heroes before the War of the Ring was a humble farmer named Tobold Hornblower of Longbottom, who in the twenty-seventh century first cultivated the plant Galenas, also known as Pipe-weed. For this deed he was praised, and delighted Hobbit smokers named one superior strain "Old Toby" in his memory.
In the thirtieth century of the Third Age, however, fame in a very real sense came to the Hobbit folk. For, by chance, a great and evil power fell into Hobbit hands with which the fate of all Hobbits became entwined.
The first Hobbit to become famous to the World was Bilbo Baggins of Hobbiton, who was tempted into a leading role in the Quest of Erebor by the Wizard Gandalf and the Dwarf-king Thorin Oakenshield. This is the adventure that is told in the first part of the "Red Book of Westmarch". It is the memoir that Bilbo himself called "There and back again", wherein Trolls, Orcs, Wolves, Spiders and a Dragon are slain. In that adventure Bilbo Baggins achieved many deeds that those of stronger and wiser races in Middle-earth could not, and unexpected strength and bravery were revealed in the Hobbit character.
Part of that adventure tells how Bilbo Baggins acquired a magic ring and, though this seemed of little importance at the time, it was an act that imperiled all who inhabited Middle-earth. For Bilbo Baggins, gentleman of the Shire, had unknowingly become possessor of the One Ring.
In time the identity of the One Ring was discovered and it was passed onto Bilbo's heir Frodo Baggins. Bilbo then went to the refuge of Rivendell, where he indulged his literary pursuits. For besides his memoirs in "There and back again" he composed a good number of original poems and a major scholarship, the three-volume "Translation from the Elvish".
Frodo Baggins had become the Ringbearer at the time that Sauron the Ring Lord was preparing to make war upon all the World. In the year 3018 the Wizard Gandalf came to Frodo and set him on the road to Rivendell on the Quest of the Ring. If the mission was successful the One Ring would destroyed and the World would be saved from the domination of Sauron.
In Rivendell the Fellowship of the Ring was made, wherein eight others were chosen as companions and bodyguards of the Ringbearer in his Quest. Three of that Fellowship were also Hobbits destined for fame nearly as great as the Ringbearer himself. Samwise Gamgee, Frodo's man-servant was one of these. A simple and loyal soul, Samwise more than once saved both his master and the Quest itself, and for a time was Ringbearer.
Peregrin Took, heir to the Thain in the Shire, and Meriadoc Brandybuck, were the other two Hobbits of the Fellowship. In the course of the Quest both Pippin and Merry (as they were most often called) were made Knights of Gondor. Merry was also made the Squire of King Theoden of Rohan, and, to the amazement of all, with the shield-maiden Eowyn he slew the Witch-king of Morgul at the Battle of Pelennor Fields. Pippin, as a Guard of Gondor, fought with the Captains of the West and in the last Battle before the Black Gate he slew a mighty Troll.
Merry and Pippin were the tallest of all Hobbits in the history of their race, for upon their journey they drank Ent-draughts, the food of giant Ents. So they towered above their people and by Mannish measure were four and a half feet tall. Further, Merry was a Hobbit scholar of note and compiled the "Herblore of the Shire" the "Reckoning of the years", and the treatsie "Old Words and Names in the Shire".
Frodo Baggins, champion of the Quest of the Ring, was also the chief historian of the War, for he wrote the great part of the "Red Book of Westmarch". he named the story "The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and the Return of the King". Yet though this humble and valiant Hobbit was Heralded the noblest of his race, in the end it was not Frodo but another Hobbit who destroyed the One Ring in a way both unexpected and unintentional.
This was Sméagol Gollum, the only Hobbit ever to have succumbed truly to evil ways. Of all his race Sméagol Gollum's tale is the strangest. For, as it is told in the histories of the One Ring, he was once a Stoorish Hobbit who in the Twenty-fifth century of the Third Age lived near the Gladden Fields. There Sméagol and his cousin Déagol first discovered the lost Ring. But Sméagol murdered Déagol and took the ring for himself. By the power of the Ring his life was lengthened., yet by it as well he was twisted beyond recognition. His form became ghoulish; he lived by foul deed of murder, on unclean meats and the dark influence of the Ring made him shun light. He lived by dark pools and in deep caverns. His skin became hairless, black and clammy, and his body thin and gaunt. His head was like a skull, yet his eyes grew great like those of fish that flourish far beneath the seas; they bulged yet were pale and his vision were poor. His teeth grew long, like Orc fangs, and his Hobbit feet grew flat and webbed. His arms became long and his hands larger and filled with evil grasping strength.
The "Red Book of Westmarch" records that Gollum (for so he became named in this form because of the ugly guttural sound he made) resided for nearly five centuries hidden in caverns beneath the Misty Mountains, until the year 2941. Then, guided no doubt by a destiny beyond his understanding, the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins came to Gollum's cavern and took the One Ring. From Bilbo it passed to Frodo Baggins and in all the eighty years that the Ring was out of his groping hands, Gollum never ceased his searching for it. At last he came upon the Ringbearer himself. For a time Frodo Baggins almost seamed able to tame him, but Gollum's soul was entirely given over to evil and he still lived by treachery. So it was that in the moment of decision, when the power of the Ring overcame the good of Frodo Baggins upon Mount Doom, Gollum came upon him and fought him upon the edge of Doom. By his evil strength Gollum won the Ring, but he toppled backwards with his precious prize down into the fiery bowels of the earth.
So by the combination of the noblest and most evil of Middle-earth's smallest and least people the One Ring was Destroyed. The World was thus saved from the horror of eternal darkness, and though Hobbits now are few, for many centuries of the Fourth Age they dwelt in honor and peace because of the deeds of their people in the mighty conflict.