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Bilbo Baggins

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This article is about Bilbo Baggins. For the tenth child and fifth son of Samwise Gamgee, see Bilbo Gardner.
Bilbo Baggins
J.R.R. Tolkien - Bilbo Baggins (colour).jpg
Biographical Information
LocationBag End, Hobbiton, Rivendell, Valinor
BirthSeptember 22, T.A. 2890
DeathSailed West September 29, T.A. 3021
ParentageBungo Baggins and Belladonna Took
Physical Description
HeightBetween 3' and 3'6"
Hair colorBrown, later White
GalleryImages of Bilbo Baggins
"In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and 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."
The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"

Bilbo Baggins was a Hobbit who lived in The Shire during the final years of the Third Age. His adventure with the dwarves Thorin and company earned him a fortune, and brought the One Ring of Sauron back into knowledge. Bilbo was noteworthy as the first ring-bearer in the history of Middle-earth to give up the One Ring voluntarily; he surrendered the ring to Frodo Baggins at Gandalf's request.



Early Life and Adventures

Bilbo Baggins was born on September 22, 2890 of the Third Age, the son of Bungo Baggins and Belladonna Took. To the eyes of his neighbors, he seemed just like his father - a solid, sensible, unadventurous and respectable hobbit. In T.A. 2941, he reluctantly joined Gandalf, Thorin and his twelve Dwarves on the quest to reclaim the Lonely Mountain (and its sizeable hoard) from the dragon Smaug. Gandalf had convinced Thorin that Bilbo was the right hobbit to be a burglar for them, despite Bilbo's feeble objections. Thus the hobbit became part of the company.

Expulsion by Donato Giancola.
Bilbo, out the door early without a pocket handkerchief, aroused doubts in his dwarvish comrades when they fell in with some trolls. Bilbo was sent to check them out, and only got captured. He escaped the trolls but was helpless to prevent all the dwarves from being captured. Gandalf, however, came in the nick of time and saved them all with his voice imitations. Upon the discovery of the troll-cave and the swords of Gondolin, Bilbo discovered a small blade and bore it with him ever after.

Eventually they came to Rivendell, where Bilbo was enchanted with the Elves. After their stay there, the company entered the Misty Mountains. Bilbo and the dwarves were captured by goblins, but saved by Gandalf once more. However Bilbo, carried by Dori, was dropped in the escape. Wandering in the dark passages, he picked up a strange golden ring, and came to the lake of Gollum. Gollum, desiring to eat the hobbit but not willing to face his blade, engaged in a riddle contest. If Bilbo won, according to the predetermined rules, Gollum would lead him to safety. If Gollum won, however, Bilbo would submit to be eaten.

Riddles in the Dark by Michael Hague.
Bilbo won the contest by accident, wondering outloud as he fingered the ring he had picked up, "What have I got in my pocket?" Gollum mistook this for a question, and Bilbo decided to stick to it. Gollum lost, but went back to his little island to take the ring Bilbo had picked up (as it was a magic ring) to turn himself invisible and kill the hobbit anyway. But of course the ring was not there, and Gollum, enraged, suddenly guessed that Bilbo had it. He chased Bilbo, but Bilbo unwittingly used the ring and escaped his notice. Gollum led Bilbo to the eastern door of the goblin-tunnels, through which Bilbo departed in safety and rejoined his fellow adventurers. But he said nothing of the ring.

Across Rhovanion

The company had not journeyed long when they were chased and wargs and forced to climb a group of trees. Gandalf kept them at bay with pyrotechnical pinecones, but eventually goblins came and set the trees to fire. Even Gandalf had begun to despair, but the Eagles of Gwaihir came to rescue them, bringing them first to the eyry, then to the Carrock. Bilbo did not enjoy his experience of being carried by his rescuers, apparently suffering from a fear of heights.

From the Carrock they came to Beorn's Hall. Gandalf took only Bilbo at first, but with his story introduced the dwarves in pairs, convincing Beorn to house them for a time. Eventually, Beorn even gave them mounts and set them on their way to Mirkwood. Bilbo alone (save for perhaps Gandalf) noticed that Beorn still followed them in bear-form. Gandalf turned back at the edge of Mirkwood, and left them to brave the perils on their own.

Bilbo "helped" the dwarves by climbing a tree midway through the wood, and declaring he could see only trees, not realizing they were at the bottom of a bowl formation. Later, when the dwarves were taken by spiders, Bilbo rescued them with his ring and little blade, which he named Sting after its first kill. Calling the spiders names, he lured them away and came back around to help with the battle between the dwarves and spiders. Eventually, the company won with no serious injuries, but was later captured when intruding on the feasts of Wood-elves. Bilbo, with his ring, escaped notice and thus capture. He followed the elves into the Halls of Thranduil, where the dwarves refused to tell their errand to Thranduil King and were locked up. Later, getting used to the elven halls and with the aid of his magic ring, he devised a plan for the dwarves to escape. It worked, with the dwarves being packed away in barrels and launched into the Forest River. Poor Bilbo was forced to cling to the barrels, invisible, and grew cold and wet. Upon reaching Lake-town, he had an awful cold, despite the feigned hospitality of the Master of Lake-town and the people of that town.

Encounter with the Dragon

On their way again, the party came to the Lonely Mountain, where they followed the instructions of the map to find the secret entrance. Bilbo, and the dwarves, were unable to open it. Bilbo sat days on the doorstep, thinking, and before long autumn waned. Soon the dwarves began to grumble against the hobbit, but Bilbo finally solved the riddle of the thrush knocking at the last light of Durin's Day. The dwarves found that he was right, and with the key managed to open the passage.

Bilbo was, of course, elected to enter the passage first, taking only Balin with him. Soon Balin halted, but Bilbo went on, finding Smaug's lair and stealing a single jewelled cup before returning. But he did ill in this, for when Smaug awoke he ravaged the mountain. Despite their grumbling, the dwarves had begun to rely on Bilbo's advice for their course of action, and agreed to wait. Bilbo soon decided, however, to return and try and find a weakness in Smaug. Slipping on his ring, he approached the dragon's hoard.

Gandalf had indeed done well in choosing Bilbo, for the old worm did not recognize Bilbo's scent, and was puzzled. Nevertheless he sensed the hobbit's presence, and challenged him. Bilbo riddled with him about his own identity and flattered the dragon. This confrontation did not last especially long, for Bilbo tricked Smaug into showing his underside. Bilbo then saw the gap in the dragon's hard scales, an unprotected place. Bilbo, upon seeing this, cracked a joke and hastily departed, and for this was nearly burned to death. All the same, he escaped and recovered, and told the dwarves what he had learned. This indirectly aided the company, for a thrush overheard, and this would prove beneficial in the end.

Death of Smaug

Scouring the Mountain by Ted Nasmith.
As darkness came, Bilbo urged the dwarves to close the door for fear of Smaug's vengeance. Reluctantly, and at last, they gave in. Just as the door closed, Smaug ravaged the side of the mountain, blocking up the door and destroying the doorstep. Then Smaug went on to wreck his vengeance on Laketown. There, armed with the knowledge given him by the Thrush who overheard Bilbo telling about the unprotected patch of Smaug's skin, Bard the bowman of the heirs of Dale shot Smaug dead. The people, no longer afraid, proclaimed him king of a restored Dale. Bard summoned Thranduil to help rebuild Laketown and Dale, in return for part of the treasure.

Meanwhile, in the Lonely Mountain, Bilbo and the dwarves decided to inspect the hoard while Smaug was away. During this time Bilbo stumbled across a gigantic and beautiful gem. Recalling an earlier conversation, Bilbo decided it was the famous Arkenstone, but felt strangely reluctant to give it up. Instead, he put it in his pocket and continued on. After a song and gathering of treasure, the party eventually found the Front Gate, and sheltered in a guardroom. Thorin gave Bilbo a beautiful coat of mithril as a first reward for his services.

At that time Roäc the raven came to them, and told of the death of Smaug. He counseled them to make peace with Bard and Thranduil, though it cost him dearly in gold. Thorin rejected this advice, and harshly responded to the polite words of Bard at his door. Bard's reasoning did little for the stubborn King under the Mountain. Bilbo feared war, and to prevent this gave the Arkenstone into the hands of Bard for negotiation. With the praise of Bard, Thranduil, and Gandalf he returned, only to be rejected and cast away for his deed by Thorin. But Bilbo was successful in that Thorin was willing to negotiate, and war was prevented temporarily.

Battle and Return Journey

And yet war did come. Dáin II Ironfoot, at the summons of Thorin, came from the Iron Hills with an army of dwarves. Bard refused to let the dwarves enter the mountain, which would mean a long and almost certainly unsuccessful siege. But just as battle was about to be joined, Gandalf called them all to be wary of the new coming danger - the alliance of Wargs and Goblins against them. Dáin, Bard, and Thranduil took council together, and decided upon a strategy of defending the slopes of the Lonely Mountain. Then the enemy came. Thus was the Battle of Five Armies fought.

The Death of Thorin by Darrell Sweet.
During the battle Bilbo stood with Thranduil and Gandalf on Ravenhill. As the battle went against the men, dwarves, and elves, Bilbo reflected gloomily on the ingloriousness of war and the bitterness of the end. But then the Eagles of Gwaihir came, and Beorn too, and the battle was won. But Bilbo did not see this result, for a falling stone knocked him out. Invisible as he was, his bruised body was not discovered until the next day. Bilbo then bade farewell to the mortally wounded Thorin and his other friends. Then, taking his share of the treasure, he returned with Gandalf to the Shire. There he discovered that he was believed dead, and an auction was going on of his house and possessions. He bought back his own things, and settled once more peacefully into Bag End.

The Years Between

Bilbo lived on in health and comfort, high in the regard of those who knew him best, but considered somewhat of an oddity. He adopted his young cousin Frodo Baggins as his heir, and raised him in Bag End. Occasionally he received visitors; dwarves, Gandalf, or even elves from time to time. Most of his time was spent reading, writing his memoirs, writing poetry, and avoiding his nasty relatives the Sackville-Bagginses.

His life was extended by the ring (actually the One Ring of ancient history), and yet as he lived on with no apparent sign of aging, he began to feel stretched and thin. At last, in September of 3001, Bilbo threw a grand party for his 111th birthday (which happened to be shared with Frodo). During this party he did a vanishing act with his ring and left with three dwarves for Rivendell, to live with Elrond and the elves there. He left all his possessions to Frodo, including, urged by Gandalf, the One Ring. He was the first ringbearer to so give up the object.

End of the Third Age

He lived a very pleasant life of retirement in Rivendell: eating, sleeping, writing poetry, and working on his memoir, There and Back Again, known to us as The Hobbit. He also wrote a book called Translations from the Elvish, which formed the basis of what is known to us as The Silmarillion.

When Frodo came to Rivendell twelve years later, Bilbo attended the Council of Elrond, offering to take the Ring to Mount Doom. Nevertheless this task fell to the younger Frodo, and in farewell Bilbo gave him Sting and his old mithril coat, both of which bore him well in the struggles to come.

The War of the Ring was fought far from where Bilbo dwelt, but successfully, and in the end Frodo returned home. Two years later, however, Bilbo as a former ringbearer accompanied Frodo Baggins, Gandalf, and certain Elves to the Grey Havens, there to take ship for Valinor across the sea, on September 29, 3021. He had already celebrated his 131st birthday, becoming the oldest Hobbit in the history of Middle-earth. So he passed West to die in peace in Valinor.

The last writing of Bilbo appears in the form of the poem "Bilbo's Last Song." It is a poem Bilbo conceivably composed while sailing west, and looking back on Middle-earth in farewell. It was published after Tolkien's death.


  • Bilbo Baggins
  • Burglar, from a note on Bilbo's door left by Gandalf[1]
  • Thief, from Gollum after Bilbo stole the One Ring. Smaug also gave the name to Bilbo after he stole a cup.[2]
  • Clue-finder, a name given to Bilbo by himself during his conversation with Smaug[3]
  • Web-cutter, a name given to Bilbo by himself during his conversation with Smaug[3]
  • Stinging Fly, a name given to Bilbo by himself during his conversation with Smaug[3]
  • Ringwinner, a name given to Bilbo by himself during his conversation with Smaug[3]
  • Luckwearer, a name given to Bilbo by himself during his conversation with Smaug[3]
  • Barrel-rider, a name given to Bilbo by himself during his conversation with Smaug, Smaug also later addressed Bilbo by this name.[3]
  • Mr. Lucky Number, a name given to Bilbo by Smaug.[3]
  • Child of the Kindly West, a name given to Bilbo by Thorin II Oakenshield.[4]
  • Bilbo the Magnificent, a name given to Bilbo by Thranduil[5]
  • Elf-friend, a name given to Bilbo by Thranduil[6]
  • Mad Baggins, a name first given to Bilbo by Rorimac Brandybuck after Bilbo disappeared suddenly from his Birthday Party.[7] It later became the name of a favourite character of legend who would vanish with a bang and a flash, only to reappear with bags of jewels and gold.[8]
  • Ring-bearer, for his bearing of the One Ring.
  • Bilba Labingi, the original hobbit name for Bilbo.


Bilbo comes from the Spanish town Bilbao, meaning "beautiful ford".


Family Tree of the Baggins of Hobbiton

Showing the prominent members of the Baggins clan.[9] The figures after the names are those of birth (and death where that is recorded). A dashed line indicates marriage, or when extended vertically, indicates a line of descent with one or more generations not shown. Names in italics signify those who attended Bilbo's Farewell Party on 22 September S.R. 1401. Names in parentheses represent significant hobbits related to the Baggins.

Balbo Baggins
Berylla Boffin
Laura Grubb
Fastolph Bolger
Mimosa Bunce
Tanta Hornblower
Togo Goodbody
Belladonna Took
Rudigar Bolger
Camellia Sackville
Bodo Proudfoot
Chica Chubb
Hildigrim Took
Ruby Bolger
[Note 1][10]
Otho Sackville-Baggins
Lobelia Bracegirdle
(Odo Proudfoot)
Falco Chubb-Baggins
Gilly Brownlock
Wilibald Bolger
[Note 2][11]
Primula Brandybuck
[Note 3][12]
Filibert Bolger
Milo Burrows
[Note 4][10]
Griffo Boffin
(Peregrin Took)
(Meriadoc Brandybuck)
(Various Goodbodies)

Family Tree Notes

  1. Of Bag End, left the Shire in S.R. 1421 and said to have passed over the sea
  2. Drogo and Primula went boating on the Brandywine River and drowned together.
  3. Murdered by Gríma Wormtongue
  4. Left the Shire in S.R. 1421 and said to have passed over the sea

Portrayal in Adaptations

1955: BBC Radio's The Lord of the Rings:

The voice of Bilbo is provided by Felix Felton.

1966: The Hobbit (1966 film):

Many characters are omitted, and Bilbo takes over the roles of several. He causes the "Growns" (substitutes for the trolls) to quarrel, and he kills the dragon Slag with the Arkenstone. At the end, he marries the princess of Dale.[13]

1968: BBC Radio's The Hobbit:

Bilbo is portrayed by Paul Daneman, and several times, when he introduces himself, he spells out his last name ("B-A-GG-I-N-S").

1977: The Hobbit (1977 film):

Orson Bean was the voice of Bilbo.

1978: The Lord of the Rings (1978 film):

Norman Bird was the voice of Bilbo, and Billy Barty the body double.

1979: Mind's Eye's The Lord of the Rings:

The voice of Bilbo is provided by Ray Reinhardt.

1979: Mind's Eye's The Hobbit:

The voice of Bilbo is provided by Ray Reinhardt.

1980: The Return of the King (1980 film):

Orson Bean reprised his role as Bilbo. He lives in Rivendell, and listens to the tale of Frodo of the Nine Fingers. Some archive footage from Rankin/Bass' The Hobbit is also shown at the start of the film.

1981: BBC Radio's The Lord of the Rings:

Bilbo is portrayed by John Le Mesurier.

2001-3: The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy:

Bilbo is played by Ian Holm, who also played Frodo Baggins in the radio series 20 years earlier.

2002: Vivendi's The Fellowship of the Ring:

Bilbo has a short appearance in Rivendell, after the Council of Elrond. He is voiced by Jim Piddock.

2003: Sierra's The Hobbit:

Michael Beattie provides the voice of a young, redheaded Bilbo.

2007: The Lord of the Rings Online:

Bilbo is a non-playable character, who resides at the Last Homely House in Rivendell. The player can find him at the Hall of Fire.

2012-3: The Hobbit films:

Ian Holm will reprise his role as an older Bilbo.[14] Whilst the younger Bilbo will be portrayed by Martin Freeman.[15]

See Also


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "An Unexpected Party"
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Riddles in the Dark"
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "Inside Information"
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Return Journey"
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Return Journey"
  6. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, "The Return Journey"
  7. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Long-expected Party"
  8. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "The Shadow of the Past"
  9. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix C, "Baggins of Hobbiton"
  10. 10.0 10.1 J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, Appendix B, "The Chief Days from the Fall of Barad-dûr to the End of the Third Age"
  11. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, "A Long-expected Party"
  12. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, The Return of the King, "The Scouring of the Shire"
  13. "The Hobbit.mp4" dated 5 January 2012, YouTube (accessed 10 January 2012)
  14. Peter Jackson, "One comment that..." dated 22 April 2011, Facebook (accessed 23 December 2011)
  15. Peter Jackson, "Production begins in New Zealand on The Hobbit" dated 20 March 2011, Facebook (accessed 23 December 2011)
Preceded by:
T.A. 2941 - September 22 3001
Followed by:
Frodo Baggins
Members of Thorin and Company
Thorin · Balin · Dwalin · Fíli · Kíli · Dori · Nori · Ori · Óin · Glóin · Bifur · Bofur · Bombur · Gandalf · Bilbo Baggins