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I get a lot of e-mail asking about the story and the characters, so I'll put a few things on this page that seem to get asked quite often.

Hobbits:

"I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays, since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us. They are (or were) a little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded Dwarves. Hobbits have no beards. There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which allows them to disappear quietly and quickly when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along, making a noise like elephants which they can hear a mile off. They are inclined to be fat in the stomach; they dress in bright colours (chiefly green and yellow); wear no shoes, because their feet grow naturally leathery soles and thick warm brown hair like the stuff on their heads (which is curly); have long clever brown fingers, good-natured faces, and laugh deep fruity laughs (especially after dinner, which they have twice a day when they can get it)." - JRR himself

About Tolkien:

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, Englishman, scholar, and storyteller was born of English parents at Bloemfontein, South Africa on Jan. 3, 1892 and died in England on Sept. 2, 1973.

The Book Itself:

Originally published by Allen & Unwin in 1937 (2nd ed. 1951, 3rd ed. 1966, 4th ed. 1978)

Dwarves:

There are 13 dwarves (or dwarfs) in the party that accompany Bilbo to Smaugs cave. They are: Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Fili, Kili, Dwalin, Balin, Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur. And Thorin, who is their leader. There were many conflicts in The Hobbit, but the one that directly or indirectly affected them all was that between the dwarves and their lust for their lost treasure that Smaug had stolen.

Food:

The Hobbits favorite food: Mushrooms

Gollum:

Well, he certainly is my favorite character, I don't want to wreck the Lord of the Rings story for you, but I will tell you he plays a much bigger role and is one of the most interesting characters I have ever grown to love/hate.

More on Smaug:

Smaug is a very greedy and powerful dragon who stole the dwarves' ancestors treasures while killing many of the ancient dwarves. Smaug lived upon his pile of gold and silver in the heart of the Lonely Mountain. He was very egotistical and believed himself to be invincible, despite the small hole in his left breast. He smashed out the side of the mountain and flew over to Esgaroth, where he burnt the entire town down. Bard the Bowman shot Smaug in the hole on his left breast, sending him crashing down in the middle of Long Lake, thus ending his tyrannical reign.