Today marks the birthdays of not one, but two figures who loom large over the landscape of modern fantasy literature. It is no stretch to say that without them, the genre we know and love would be a very different beast. We’re talking pop-music-without-the-Beatles different. Physics-without-Einstein different. England-without-the-Norman-invasion different.
So, who are these fantasy behemoths? Writers? Artists? Film-makers?
We speak of none other than Bilbo Baggins, born to Bungo Baggins and Belladonna Took on the 22nd September in the year 2890 of the Third Age of Middle Earth – or 1290 by Shire Reckoning – and his heir, Frodo, son of Drogo Baggins and Primula Brandybuck, born on the 22nd September in the year 2968 of the Third Age of Middle Earth (1368 by Shire Reckoning).
Love it or loath it (and let the record state that the elves who run the SF Gateway are firmly in the former camp), no one can deny the incredible influence of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings upon modern fantasy, and central to that long tale of the finding and eventual destruction of the One Ring (and with its unmaking, the passing of the Third Age) are a couple of modest but courageous and resourceful hobbits.
Happy Birthday, Bilbo and Frodo. We hope you’re enjoying a well-earned rest – and perhaps a puff of Old Toby.