Other Names: Halflings, Holbytlan, Little People, Periannath, Kuduk, Kûd-dûkan, Banakil
The most sustained body of information about Hobbits, particularly Shire Hobbits, is to be found in the Prologue, "Concerning Hobbits", in LoTR.
The history of the Hobbits is not much known, but Tolkien did specify their origin in Letters of JRR Tolkien:
"The Hobbits are, of course, really meant to be a branch of the specifically human race (not Elves or Dwarves) - hence the two kinds can dwell together (as at Bree), and are called just the BigFolk? and LittleFolk. They are entirely without non-human powers, but are represented as being more in touch with 'nature' (the soil and other living things, plants and animals), and abnormally, for humans, free from ambition or greed of wealth. They are made small (little more than half human stature, but dwindling as the years pass) partly to exhibit the pettiness of man, plain unimaginative parochial man though not with either the smallness or the savageness of Swift, and mostly to show up, in creatures of very small physical power, the amazing and unexpected heroism of ordinary men 'at a pinch'.
The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, p 158, Letter 131
In Letter 319 (p 406) he describes them as "a diminutive branch of the human race."
Their existence, if little else about them, was known in Lórien:
(Haldir speaking) "We had not heard of - hobbits, of halflings, for many a long year, and did not know that any yet dwelt in Middle-earth."
Ch. V, "Lothlórien," The Ring Goes South, FoTR
in Rohan: (Théoden speaking) ""Already I have seen many [marvels] since I left my house; and now here before my eyes stand yet another of the folk of legend. Are these not the Halflings, that some among us call Holbytlan? ... But I will not deceive you: we know no tales about hobbits. All that is said among us is that far away, over many hills and rivers, live the halfling folk that dwell in holes in sand-dunes. But there are no legends of their deeds, for it is said that they do little, and avoid the sight of men, being able to vanish in a twinkling; and they can change their voices to resemble the piping of birds."
Ch. VII, "The Road to Isengard", The Treason of Isengard, TTT
in Gondor: "People stared much as [Pippin] passed. To his face men were gravely courteous, saluting him after the manner of Gondor with bowed heads and hands upon breast; but behind him he heard many calls, as those out of doors cried to others within to come see the Prince of Halflings, the companion of Mithrandir. Many used some other tongue than the Common Speech, but it was not long before he learned at least what was meant by Ernil i Pheriannath and knew that his title had gone down before him into the City."
Ch. I, "Minas Tirith", The War of the Ring, RoTK
* * * * *
All information below, unless otherwise noted, is from Concerning Hobbits
"Hobbits are an unobtrusive but very ancient people, more numerous formerly than they are today; for they love peace and quiet and good tilled earth: a well-ordered and well-farmed countryside was their favourite haunt. They do not and did not understand or like machines more complicated than a forge-bellows, a water-mill, or a hand-loom, though they were skilful with tools...They are quick of hearing and sharp-eyed, and though they are inclined to be fat and do not hurry unnecessarily, they are nonetheless nimble and deft in their movements. They possessed from the first the art of disappearing swiftly and silently, when large folk whom they do not wish to meet come blundering by; and this an they have developed until to Men it may seem magical."
"For they are a little people, smaller than Dwarves: less stout and stocky, that is, even when they are not actually much shorter. Their height is variable, ranging between two and four feet of our measure. They seldom now reach three feet; but they hive dwindled, they say, and in ancient days they were taller."
"...in the days of their peace and prosperity they were a merry folk. They dressed in bright colours, being notably fond of yellow and green; but they seldom wore shoes, since their feet had tough leathery soles and were clad in a thick curling hair, much like the hair of their heads, which was commonly brown. Thus, the only craft little practised among them was shoe-making; but they had long and skilful fingers and could make many other useful and comely things. Their faces were as a rule good-natured rather than beautiful, broad, bright-eyed, red-cheeked, with mouths apt to laughter, and to eating and drinking. And laugh they did, and eat, and drink, often and heartily, being fond of simple jests at all times, and of six meals a day (when they could get them). They were hospitable and delighted in parties, and in presents, which they gave away freely and eagerly accepted."
"It is plain indeed that in spite of later estrangement Hobbits are relatives of ours: far nearer to us than Elves, or even than Dwarves. Of old they spoke the languages of Men, after their own fashion, and liked and disliked much the same things as Men did. ..."
There were three types of Hobbits: Harfoots, Stoors, and Fallohides.
Harfoots -"browner of skin, smaller, and shorter, and they were beardless and bootless; their hands and feet were neat and nimble; and they preferred highlands and hillsides."
"The Harfoots had much to do with Dwarves in ancient times, and long lived in the foothills of the mountains. They moved westward early, and roamed over Eriador as far as Weathertop while the others were still in the Wilderland. They were the most normal and representative variety of Hobbit, and far the most numerous. They were the most inclined to settle in one place, and longest preserved their ancestral habit of living in tunnels and holes."
FotR, Prologue, 1, Concerning Hobbits
Stoors - "broader, heavier in build; their feet and hands were larger, and they preferred flat lands and riversides."
"The Stoors lingered long by the banks of the Great River Anduin, and were less shy of Men. They came west after the Harfoots and followed the course of the Loudwater southwards; and there many of them long dwelt between Tharbad and the borders of Dunland before they moved north again."
FotR, Prologue, 1, Concerning Hobbits
"Between 2463 [Déagol the Stoor found the One Ring, according to the Tale of Years] and the beginning of Gandalf's special enquiries concerning the Ring (nearly 500 years later) they [the Stoors] appear indeed to have died out altogether (except of course for Sméagol); or to have fled from the shadow of Dol Guldur."
Unfinished Tales, Part 3, Ch IV, (iii), Concerning Gandalf, Saruman and the Shire Note 9
Fallohides - "fairer of skin and also of hair, and they were taller and slimmer than the others; they were lovers of trees and of woodlands."
"The Fallohides, the least numerous, were a northerly branch. They were more friendly with Elves than the other Hobbits were, and had more skill in language and song than in handicrafts; and of old they preferred hunting to tilling. They crossed the mountains north of Rivendell and came down the River Hoarwell. In Eriador they soon mingled with the other kinds that had preceded them, but being somewhat bolder and more adventurous, they were often found as leaders or chieftains among clans of Harfoots or Stoors. Even in Bilbo's time the strong Fallohidish strain could still be noted among the greater families, such as the Tooks and the Masters of Buckland."
FotR, Prologue, 1, Concerning Hobbits
Many nonsensical beliefs exist in Fandom regarding Hobbit feet. Somehow the notion has become Fanon (as opposed to Canon) that Hobbits have big feet. I cannot find any proof for that in the text.
In 'The Hobbit' the Professor gives this description:
'....they wear no shoes, because their feet grow natural leathery soles and thick warm brown hair like the stuff on their heads (which is curly)....'
The Hobbit, George Allen & Unwin Edition 1978, page 12, first paragraph, line 10 ff
Now many readers argue that especially as there is no reference to their size, we can as well assume that the feet were big. I don't think so. When describing the specifics of the Hobbits' feet their size would have been mentioned had there been anything remarkable about it, I daresay.
In 'Letters' the Professor says:
'His feet, if conveniently clad and shod by nature, were as elegant as his long, clever fingers.'
The Letters of JRR Tolkien, HarperCollins Publishers Edition 1995, letter 25, page 30, last two lines
I really doubt that unproportionately large feet would have been described as elegant. And:
'I picture a fairly human figure, not a kind of 'fairy' rabbit as some of my British reviewers seem to fancy: fattish in the stomach, shortish in the leg. .... The feet from the ankles down, covered with brown hairy fur.'
The Letters of JRR Tolkien, HarperCollins Publishers Edition 1995, letter 27, page 35, fourth paragraph, line 1 ff
Please note that the Professor does not say 'biggish in the foot'. Again, when physical appearance is described there is no mention of unusual foot size. Just the fur covering the feet is mentioned.
Also in 'The Hobbit':
'The dwarves revived him, and doctored his scorches as well as they could; but it was a long time before the hair on the back of his head and his heels grew properly again.'
The Hobbit, George Allen & Unwin Edition 1978, page 194, third paragraph, line 3 ff
Which shows that the foothair was nothing like that shown in the movie or most illustrations. It was like the hair on their heads, thick and curly, and it covered the whole foot from the ankle.
Many a writer indulges in calling Hobbits 'tiny' in every second sentence.
In fact the Professor states the following:
'Their height is variable, ranging between two and four feet of our measure. They seldom now reach three feet; but they have dwindled, they say, and in ancient days they were taller. According to the Red Book, Bandobras Took (Bullroarer), ...., was four foot five and able to ride a horse. He was surpassed in all Hobbit records only by two famous characters of old; but this curious matter is dealt with in this book.'
The Lord of the Rings, George Allen & Unwin Ltd. Edition 1981, Concerning Hobbits, pages 13/14, last line/last lines of first paragraph
Please note that he starts telling of Hobbits as of those living today who are smaller than their forebears, so that their size range today perhaps varies between two and three feet, whereas the ancient Hobbits, being taller, have perhaps varied more between three and four feet.
So I made the following deductions:
If Bandobras Took was 4 foot 5 tall and was surpassed only by two Hobbits, namely Merry and Pippin after the two intakes of ent-draught, they must then have been at least 4 foot 5.1, but to make calculation easier let's assume they were then 4 foot 6.
In the chapter 'The Field of Cormallen' Sam observes that Merry and Pippin are at least 3 inches taller than they should be.
The Lord of the Rings, George Allen & Unwin Ltd. Edition 1981, The Field of Cormallen, page 992, first paragraph, lines 7/8
As this was before the second drink of ent-draught which occurred on their journey home, they were then still smaller than 4 foot 6, but had already grown 3 inches after the first intake of ent-draught.
I was not able to find any hints respective to proof of how much the two grew after their second imbibing of ent-draught, and have therefore based my calculations on another growth of 3 inches.
This would make them 4 foot 3 at the Field of Cormallen - after the first but before the second drink of ent-draught which led each to a growth of 3 inches (4.6 - 0.3 = 4.3).
Which leads to the fact that they must have been around 4 foot (4.3 - 0.3 = 4.0) before the first ent-draught .
In the chapter 'Strider' it is mentioned that Frodo was 'taller than some'.
The Lord of the Rings, George Allen & Unwin Ltd. Edition 1981, Strider, page 183, first paragraph, line 3
I interpret this as he being at least as tall as Merry and Pippin who were by then 4 foot (before the first ent-draught), because it would be useless to use height as a distinguishing mark if he was usually accompanied by others as tall or even taller than him.
This makes at least 3 fullly grown males with a height of 4 feet.
Anglachel - 12.20.02, 02.13.03
Prologue material added by Lyllyn 5.13.03
Feet/Sizes added by kete 08-11-03
Added Kuduk, Kûd-dûkan, Banakil: Elena Tiriel 4.16.04