The National Library celebrates Hobbit Day and invites a Hobbit to view the collections.
On 22 September we celebrate Hobbit Day at the National Library!
The day is celebrated in remembrance of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most famous Hobbits, who actually share a birthday; Bilbo and his 78 year younger nephew Frodo, each a hero in his own spectacular literary adventure, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, respectively.
Since the middle of the last century, Tolkien’s books have made fine companions to generations of readers, and the film adaptations of the last few years have made Tolkien’s world a familiar cultural realm. Sauron, Smaug, Gandalf, Aragorn – who doesn’t know these characters? But Orcs, Wizards, Elves, and Dwarfs can’t compete with the small Hobbits who have captured our hearts with their love of the simple things in life – home, good food and drink, friendship, and bravery.
The fact is that a Hobbit would feel quite at home in the underground book storage facilities at the National Library. While somewhat larger and less homey than a Smial, they are still very cosy. We will of course have to schedule our tour of the collections in between two meals, because as we know, Hobbits enjoy their food and like to eat often. We will also have to adapt the tour to suit the interests of the Hobbits, because even though they are very persevering, they are after all, very small…
Hobbits and the Shire
Let’s begin our tour closest to home. The first edition of Bilbo / The Hobbit is a rarity here at The National Library – it is called Hompen and can be found in the Swedish Rare Books Collection. The collections at the National Library host a wide range of material by and about Tolkien, printed matter as well as audio and images.
Hobbits love to throw a party and a grand fireworks display is a popular feature of the festivities. Our Hobbit will no doubt be drawn to Flobeck’s cohesive and richly illustrated 1819 textbook on the art of fireworks, in which one can even learn about water fireworks:
As we know, every Hobbit’s favourite tobacco is the Old Toby. A Hobbit interested in cultivation will of course want to study Roberg’s guidance from 1724, featuring pedagogical pictures and practical advice. The study of the tobacco flower is a work of art in itself:
We should remember that half a pint of beer is enough for a Hobbit, at least in one go. While we don’t allow any alcohol, or any beverage whatsoever, in the storage facilities, the beer brewery back in the Shire could in theory be compared to the preparations described in Halenius’s substantial publication, available in many editions, here from 1762:
Halenius, Utrönte hushålls påminnelser, huru man utaf en tunna malt må kunna tilreda 80 kannor öl, utom 40 kannor swagdricka, och utur en tunna säd twinga 18 til 20 kannor brännewin, med lös panna och i mindre werk, den del af mina älskade landsmän : til tjenst, som antingen sielfwa förglömt, eller nu först skulle åstunda den wetenskap utöfwa. =Anon.= På mångas begäran å nyo uplagde i Norrköping, hos Johan Edman, 1762.
Yes, we do have them at the National Library. This particular dragon adorning a 16th Century volume decorated with a beautiful Dutch acorn plate is far too reminiscent of cruel Smaug, so let’s make a swift exit and release the small Hobbit into the greenery of Humlegården.
Translation/översättning: Moa Mauthe