The History of The Lord of the Rings: At Rivendell

After Bingo wakes and sees Gandalf at his bedside, the wizard says the hobbit would have become a wraith “before long – certainly if you had put on the Ring again” (Return of the Shadow 207) and that Elrond had treated him for hours the night before. Tolkien was yet to discover Frodo’s graver and more immediate peril. It is interesting that becoming a wraith is tied to the Ring and not to “the sword of the Necromancer,” (208) as Gandalf calls the blade that wounded Bingo. About the injury itself and the powers that combined to make it not anywhere as serious as Frodo’s, the wizard notes, “But by some grace of fortune, or by your own courage…and by the confusion caused by the elf-name which you cried, only your shoulder was grazed” (ibid.). Another draft of...

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The History of The Lord of the Rings: From Weathertop to the Ford

Athelas is not noted as coming from Men but only Elves and some travelers in the woods know of it. There is no mention in this earliest draft of the point of the Black Rider’s blade breaking off and moving toward Bingo’s heart. On the way to Rivendell, Bingo has the same dream Frodo later does about the wraiths and their fell beasts. The hobbits also come across the trolls, but there is no mention of the song Sam later sings about them. They also come across a stone marked in the runic script for Gandalf and Bilbo, where the trolls’ once was hid. Glorfindel, who comes seeking the hobbits at the behest of Gandalf, hails Trotter by his Elvish name, Padathir. He aids Bingo in clearing the mist that grew between the Ring-bearer’s perception of his friends, as he does...

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The History of The Lord of the Rings: Attack on Weathertop

Trotter and the other hobbits find that Gandalf had left them some firewood and a box of cram-cakes and tobacco. As Aragorn will later, Trotter gives the tale of Beren and Lúthien but in greater detail. Much of the rest of the chapter is virtually the same. Bingo valiantly fights against the temptation to put on the Ring, but fails just as Frodo will. And just as Frodo, he receives the inspiration to call upon Elbereth, is wounded by one of the Riders, and removes the Ring just before swooning. But, as Christopher Tolkien points out, there is no hint yet that the “fate of Middle-earth lay within its tiny circle” (Return of the Shadow 189)

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The History of the Lord of the Rings: Trotter and the Journey to Weathertop

A great difference in this original draft is that Gandalf was at The Prancing Pony a few days before Bingo and his friends arrive. While hidden behind a hedge, Trotter saw and heard him approach with a party of dwarves and an Elf or two. They spoke softly of Bingo and his companions and stayed overnight at the inn. Mr. Butterbur reports that while Gandalf was there, the wizard told him that Bingo was to arrive soon, and he was to tell the hobbit not to delay. Gandalf hoped the hobbits would catch up with him. Butterbur also reports that the Riders had come and asked about Bingo. Like Strider to come, Trotter wants to be taken along with his fellow hobbits, know about the Riders, and that Bill Ferny cannot be trusted. Also like Strider, Trotter has a moment in...

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The History of the Lord of the Rings: Arrival at Bree

Two big changes about The Prancing Pony and its innkeeper was the inn was at first a hobbit-hole with the customary round door, and Mr. Butterbur was a hobbit himself with the first name of Barnabas, and even earlier, named Timothy Titus. All four hobbits have aliases, not just Mr. Underhill (or originally Mr. Hill). Another huge change is the appearance of Trotter, the hobbit Ranger who wore wooden shoes, and who becomes in time the man known as Strider. A lot of the rest the same. Odo (later Pippin) regales the crowd with the tale of Bilbo’s disappearing act. Warned by Trotter to intervene, Bingo sings a song to keep Odo from talking about the Ring. Just like Frodo to come, Bilbo dances, falls, and disappears because of fingering the Ring “just at the fatal...

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The History of The Lord of the Rings: The Barrow-wight

This chapter starts with a brief outline of how Tolkien thought the story would proceed from Tom Bombadil rescuing the hobbits from the wights – which in this version, chase after them until Tom defeats them by holding up his hand – all the way to the decision at Rivendell to begin the Quest to destroy the Ring. There is no mention in this sketchy outline of Strider, Weathertop, or any wounding of Bingo. The Black Riders still pursue the hobbit, and at the Ford, Bingo defies them and attempts to defeat them as Tom had the wights, but he cannot. Elves arrive at the Ford to accompany the hobbits to Rivendell in great haste. One of the interesting changes from the final version is that the vision of the West which Bingo, and later Frodo, has in Tom’s...

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The History of The Lord of the Rings: Tom Bombadil

Much remains the same from the conception of this chapter to the final version, but Tolkien is still feeling his way through, as he does throughout these first drafts. Farmer Maggot may not originally been thought of as a hobbit. The Professor is still not sure who the Black Riders are and wonders if they are barrow-wights who ride horses. Bingo has the same dream – or the real experience as Christopher Tolkien thinks and Bingo fears – that Frodo does later about hearing horses galloping around Tom’s house and then going away. But the dream of Gandalf’s escape from Orthanc is not here because Tolkien had not yet discovered that part of the story. The hobbits wish to stay in Tom’s house, not just from fear of the dangers outside, but would have wanted...

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