Literature Study GuidesThe Lord Of The RingsPrologue Note On The Shire Records Summary

The Lord of the Rings | Study Guide

J.R.R. Tolkien

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The Lord of the Rings | Prologue (Note on the Shire Records) | Summary



For a long time, most of the hobbits' traditions and history were passed down orally, but finally, at the end of the Third Age, much of this information was collected and recorded. One hundred or so years into the Fourth Age, the Shire already contained multiple libraries of books containing the hobbits' genealogies and accounts of historical events. The sources from which much useful information about the hobbits, the Shire, and the War of the Ring are drawn include Bilbo's Red Book of Westmarch (his account of his own adventures) as well as other history books from Minas Tirith and other places in Middle-earth.


This attention to the sources of the information used in The Lord of the Rings aligns with Tolkien's insistence on making the history of Middle-earth real and discoverable. His thoroughness in creating an entire world, though perhaps tedious to some readers, shows his absolute commitment to this mythological world. Tolkien himself noted on several occasions that writing about Middle-earth seemed more about discovering something already there than making up fiction. This sense is passed on to readers through his attention to records, calendars, languages, and other realistic details.

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