For today’s installment of Bookstr Trivia, we’re taking a closer look at Lord of the Rings, the iconic universe that revolutionized and revived the fantasy genre as we know it today.
Welcome, Ringers! Unless you’ve been living in a hole in the hillsides, you know that the JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, including all related posthumous works, is still one of the most beloved fictional universes in both the literary and cinematic world. For die-hard Ringers, we know the basic trivia about Tolkien and his characters. But did you know that one of the fiercest enemies could have been a domestic animal? Or that an entire portion of lore is taken from a dance in the woods? Today, we’ve gathered a few lesser-known facts about the series that you may not know!
Bingo Was His Name-o
In some of Tolkien’s earliest drafts, the most prominent characters of the series were not how we know them today. Some had only minor changes, such as names or physical features, whereas others had drastic makeovers. One of the most surprising edits concerned our protagonist Frodo Baggins. In early manuscripts, Tolkien referred to him as “Bingo,” son of Bilbo. He later was changed to Bilbo’s adopted cousin, “Bingo Bolger-Baggins,” before Tolkien settled on the name Frodo.
One drastic character edit was done to the all-powerful Sauron, who was initially written as…a cat. He was to be Tevildo, the Lord of the Cats. He underwent another name change and became Thu the Necromancer, and eventually evolved into Sauron as we know him today. The feline Tevildo does appear in the series eventually as Prince of the Cats in the posthumous publication, Beren and Lúthien.
Another character that had a different fate was Aragorn, who was first drafted as a Hobbit. He was referred to multiple times as “Trotter” due to the sound his shoes would make when he would walk. It was also implied that he was a distant relative of the Baggins’. Trotter had a mysterious backstory that included being a prisoner of Sauron and having to be rescued by Gandalf. Eventually, Trotter transformed into Aragorn, King of Gondor.
Many of the stories and places in the Lord of the Rings universe are based on true events that happened in Tolkien’s life. Some of them are taken from his early years, such as his trip to Switzerland. He and twelve other friends hiked through the snow-laden mountains and pine trees. Forty-three years later, Bilbo started his own journey across the Misty Mountains with scenery very similar to that of Tolkien’s Swiss adventure.
Perhaps the most incredible lore taken from Tolkien’s life, that later made it into the series, was entirely inspired by his wife, Edith. During World War I, Tolkien was sent to the battlefront. In 1917, he contracted trench fever and was stationed in Yorkshire where he could be surrounded by his family during his recovery. It was in those days that the couple would take walks through the woods and Edith would unleash her magic. With her hair blowing in the wind, Edith would perform an enchanting dance for him. Tolkien was so enthralled by this dance that he based the entire Beren and Lúthien mythology on it. Luthien can be found on Edith’s tombstone and Beren on Tolkien’s.
Though it’s been sixty-eight years since we entered the LOTR universe, the lasting impact it has on society will never be forgotten. Whether it be the published or unpublished, these stories have taught us valuable lessons, with the greatest one being that “There is good in this world…and it’s worth fighting for.”
For more Bookstr trivia, click here.