(Drawing in ink and pencil)
‘By some curious chance one morning long ago in the quiet of the world, when there was less noise and more green, and the hobbits were still numerous and prosperous, and Bilbo Baggins was standing at his door after breakfast smoking an enormous long wooden pipe that reached nearly down to his woolly toes (neatly brushed) – Gandalf came by…
…”Good Morning!” said Bilbo, and he meant it. The sun was shining, and the grass was very green. But Gandalf looked at him from under long bushy eyebrows that stuck out further than the brim of his shady hat.
“What do you mean?” he said. “Do you wish me a good morning, or mean that it is a good morning whether I want it or not; or that you feel good this morning; or that it is a morning to be good on?” “All of them at once,” said Bilbo. “And a very fine morning for a pipe of tobacco out of doors, into the bargain.’
~ An Unexpected Party (The Hobbit, J.R.R. Tolkien)
Our first introduction to Mr. Bilbo Baggins, and his first encounter with Gandalf the wizard, always produced a very strong visual, tangible scene in my mind: the new green of spring, the comfort and safety of Bag-End, and the simple hobbit friendliness extended to a passer-by perfectly captures the idyllic peace of the Shire. The words play a large part, but so too do Tolkien’s own accompanying artwork, in shaping the reader’s imagination.
My own drawing above is inspired by Tolkien’s artwork – done as a gift for my niece and nephews who had just finished reading The Hobbit and were utterly captivated by the story. It is a basic ink drawing, filled in with pencil (shout out to my niece who coloured in the flowers!). I tried to adapt the garden to fit Tolkien’s artistic depiction, but I chose to make the interior a bit warmer and cosier (although, realistically, it should be darker inside, and it’s probably too modern). I was also influenced by David Wyatt’s fantastic ink drawings for the Harper Collins 1998 edition of The Hobbit, particularly the front steps. There is also a good Ted Nasmith painting of the Bilbo-Gandalf meeting that I came across after I did my drawing, and which I feel does the most (out of all the Bag-End interpretations) to remain faithful to Tolkien’s own renditions.
Tolkien’s excellent illustrations warrant a separate blog-post (well I think they are excellent, I know many would not agree and have even described them as pedestrian) – but for now, here’s a picture of Bag-End by Tolkien, with its homeliness and attention to detail. I always used to wonder how Bilbo reached the door handle, it seems just a bit high for him – maybe he stood on a chair? In any case, Gandalf would have no problem walking into this spacious hobbit hole!
Here is David Wyatt’s ink drawing: (I love the detail on the front door)
And finally Ted Nasmith’s ‘One Morning Long Ago’: (This captures the serenity of the Shire, but also the sense of adventure and possibility that arises from the winding path leading out of Bag-End)
I’d love to know what are other people’s favourite artwork of Bag-End and the Shire; or if anyone else has had a go drawing Bag-End/ Hobbiton, and if so which artists are you inspired by?