For the full history of the Lord of the Rings, see The Return of the
Shadow, The Treason of Isengard, The War of the Ring and Sauron Defeated.
This is a very brief summary of some of the things that interested me
from the above mentioned books. Each of the books covers a certain section
of the Lord of the Rings:
The Treason of Isengard: A lot of the stuff in the Return of the Shadow is rewritten with the final party. Other party ideas had included:
An earlier idea was: Frodo, Sam, Merry, Faramond, Gandalf and Trotter (Return of the Shadow).
Another early idea was: Gandalf, Trotter, Frodo, Sam, Merry, Folco, Odo, Glorfindel, and Burin, son of Balin (the character to become Gimli, son of Gloin).(from the Return of the Shadow)
From The Return of the Shadow: Gandalf, Trotter, Frodo, Sam, Faramond, and Glorfindlel
The rest of the book goes from The Bridge of Khazad-Dum to The King
of the Golden Hall. There is also stuff on the first of JRR Tolkien's
The first idea was for Bilbo to have the
adventures, though there was the problem of the fact that Bilbo was said
to have had a long and happy life which made it hard for him to have had
more adventures. The Hobbit, chapter 19: The Last Stage, page 284:
To have Bilbo run off for his second adventure after the Long Awaited Party speech. A variation of this was used in the Lord of the Rings, in that Bilbo does disappear at the end of the speech and does leave the Shire.
When Tolkien was first writing the Lord of The Rings, he decided to name Frodo, Bingo (full name Bingo Bolger-Bagins) instead. I believe that it was after a member of a family of toy bears. That lasted until about halfway through the Return of the Shadow. At that time there were various different names for the other hobbits in the party, ranging from Peregrin Boffin (Tolkien's original idea for Strider) to Odo Took and Marmaduke Brandybuck, so the idea of one Baggins, Brandybuck and Took was settled from the start. Sam Gamgee did not come in until later. Bingo Bolger-Baggins was at first decided to be Bilbo's son!! Strider was orginally called Trotter, and at first was a hobbit, though that was discarded by the first third of the second book, The Treason of Isengard.
In the Return of the Shadow (Book six of the History of Middle-Earth,
and the first of the four books about the Lord of the Rings) Tolkien says
that when Trotter first showed up in Bree, he had no idea of who he was
and Tolkien had to find out as he was writing the story. Similar things
have happened with other events and people in the Lord of the Rings, eg.
Tolkien knew that there was going to be an adventure with an ent, though
he thought that it was going to happen to Frodo. Immediately on having
written it with Frodo, though, he decided that it was going to happen
to Merry and Pippin. At first Treebeard was evil and in league with Sauron.
At first though the idea of the Cracks of Doom were firmly there, Tolkien had no idea where they were. He thought that at first Sauron's ancient stronghold was in Mirkwood. It wasn't until later that he "found" Mordor was in the South-East, near to the land of Ond. At that time, Boromir's father was the king of Ond. It was't until later, indeed until the middle of the Treason of Isengard that the idea for the Stewards of Gondor came into existence.
There are two versions of the Hobbit, one of which has Gollum going to give Bilbo the Ring. Tolkien ran into trouble with this when he was writing The Lord of the Rings. As the Ring was taking on a more and more sinister aspect, having Gollum give away the Ring was less and less possible. To fix this Tolkien rewrote parts of the hobbit to suit the Lord of the Rings. The way he explains this in the Lord of the Rings is that Bilbo wrote the original version of the Hobbit as the Ring was taking effect, and when Frodo rewrote the Red Book of Westmarch he was unwilling to remove what Bilbo had put, so there were some copies made of the original.
The process in which Tolkien settled on a name for Aragorn was rather tortuous, though his first name for him was "Aragorn", included (in order, showing changes), Aragorn to Ingold to Elfstone, just to name a few of the changes. Finally late in the Treason of Isengard, the form Aragorn, son of Arathorn, was used, at least temporarily.
The song "Earendil the Mariner" sung by Bilbo in the chapter, Many Meetings, began life very similar to the song "Errantry". The two have the same style, though "Errantry" was much lighter in tone. Errantry can be found in the book The Adventures of Tom Bombadil.
Tolkien had some very interesting conceptions for the entry to Mordor,
starting with only having one entrance, not called the Morranon, but Kirith
Ungol, and very similar to Nan Dungortheb in Beleriand, with a ravine
of giant spiders, larger than those in Mirkwood. In the earliest versions
Sam is right next to Frodo, when Frodo was picked up by the orcs, and
Sam tries to fight, but is trampled. This is in contrast to The Two Towers,
when Sam has left Frodo, and hears the orcs, talking though he has left
the area and only follows the orcs, and Gollum is nowhere in the area,
while in the Treason of Isengard, in the drafts, Gollum is there with
the orcs. Also in the drafts, they are not in the tower of the guard-tower
on the far side of the mountains, but in Minas Morgul (strange thing:
in the Treason of Isengard, Minas Morgul is spelled Minas Morgul as in
the Lord of the Rings, while in Sauron Defeated, it is spelt Minas Morgol).
Another thing, Frodo wasn't plundered, in the drafts, he still had the
Throughout the first half of the Treason of Isengard and all of the Return of the Shadow, Gondor was first referred to as the land of Ond or later as Ondor. In the second half of the Treason of Isengard, it became "Gondor" as in the Lord of the Rings.
In many ways the scene on Amon Hen was first written very similarly to the way it is in the Fellowship of the Ring. From the first the idea of Sam following Frodo to the boats and going off with him, leaving the rest of the Company of the Ring was used.
The beginning of the draft for The Departure of Boromir was written in
almost the same words as in the Two Towers.
For the chapter, The Riders of Rohan, the drafts are quite similar to the Two Towers. In this chapter is the first occurrence of Arathorn as the name for the father of Aragorn. The original idea for this chapter had Eomer on his way to attack the orcs, not returning from the attack.
In parts the workings for the chapter Treebeard are very similar to the Two Towers and in other parts very different.
At first in the chapter The King of the Golden Hall, there is no distrust of Gandalf, Aragorn, Gimli and Legolas at all nor any request to have them lay aside their weapons. This came later in the revisions along with the character Wormtongue who caused many of the problems within Rohan.
Much of the chapters up to The Voice of Saruman are very similar to the way they are in the Two Towers, with one of the main exceptions being the chapter Floatsam and Jetsam. In that chapter, the pipeweed had not come from the Shire, so there is no clue to what is happening in the Shire.
The chapter The Palantir, was very similar in most points to The Two Towers, except that at first the Palantir was smashed on the stairs of Orthanc and that the first drafts with it intact have Gandalf looking into it.
first drafts of The Taming of Smeagol in the War of the Ring are very
similar to the Two Towers, though they know that Gollum is following them
before they even get down below the cliff. In the Two Towers, the first
sighting and sound of Gollum after they left the Company was after they
climbed down the cliffs at the edge of the Emyn Muil. It was when he was
writing this chapter that Tolkien revised this passage in the Shadow Of
The Mumak. Even hobbits had heard of this majestic animal, as is shown
in the poem Oliphaunt (The Lord of the Rings, pages 672-673):
Grey as a mouse,
Big as a house,
Nose like a snake,
I make the earth shake,
As I tramp through the grass;
Trees crack as I pass.
With horns in my mouth
I walk in the South,
Flapping big ears.
Beyond count of years
I stump round and round,
Never lie on the ground,
Not even to die.
Oliphaut am I
Biggest of all,
Huge, old, and tall.
If ever you'd met me
You wouldn't forget me,
If you never do,
You won't think I'm true;
But old Oliphaunt am I,
And I never lie.
The chapter Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit was first written very similarly to The Two Towers, except for the following: the two rabbits were a gift from Gollum and there was no encounter with the Men of Minas Tirith. In the next draft, the encounter with the Men of Minas Tirith was there, though their leader was not Faramir. Most of the text and the conversation is almost the same though.
The next chapter was originally called Faramir.This is the chapter A Window on the West. Almost all of it is in pretty much the same words as in the Two Towers, though said outside and with much interesting material on the languages used in Gondor.
In the chapter, Kirith Ungol (as it was spelt at that time), there were first many spiders, reminiscent of Mirkwood, then only one, at first called Ungoliant, not Shelob. The spider became Shelob during the section that later became known as The Choices of Master Samwise, when the two orc-patrols are meeting.
In all four books there is a lot of chronological tinkering to make sure that the four separate groups movements coordinate properly. By four I mean Frodo, Sam and Gollum as 1, Pippin and Gandalf as 2, Merry and King Theoden as 3 and Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli as 4. This can get very confusing as you read especially as the groups often change so that the members of one are often changed to be part of another. For help go to the calendar I have created for the years of the War of the Ring. At the time of writing the chapters in Dunharrow, Aragorn was there to meet Theoden and the Riders of Rohan and had not taken the Paths of the Dead, before they had arrived as in The Two Towers.
The chapter Minas Tirith is almost the same as in the Return of the King except for minor details in descriptions to the point of where Pippin and Gandalf leave Denethor in the hall. The later part of the chapter draft where Pippin meets the boy later to become Bergil, later to become the son of Berigond of the Guard of the Citadel, is really quite amusing. That draft was soon abandoned though.
The two parts titled Many Roads Lead Eastward are very interesting, in that at that time, Aragorn did not know where the Paths of the Dead were, and that Merry was at first to ride to Minas Tirith openly with the permission of King Theoden, not hidden under Dernhelm's (Eowyn's) cloak.
part about Gandalf's defense of the Gates of Minas Tirith against the
Lord of the Nazgul is similar in many ways to the Lord of the Rings and
almost as powerful. (The War of the Ring pages 336-337)
In rode the Lord of the Nazgul. A great black shape
against the fires beyond, he loomed up, grown to a vast menace of despair.
In rode the Lord of the Nazgul, under the arch that no enemy ever yet
had passed, and all fled before his face.
The first of the outlines for the story of Frodo and Sam in Mordor dates
from the beginning of the entire story, when Frodo was still called Bingo
Bolger-Baggins. At that time the scene on Mount Doom when the Ring is
destroyed is essentially the same, with Gollum falling into the Cracks
The idea that Frodo and Bilbo would go into the West with the bearers of the Elven Rings was in the story from the first and certainly there from the outlines after The Field of Cormallen (I am using the spelling from the Lord of the Rings).
Arwen was at first named Finduilas (Later this name was given to Faramir's mother). It was only in the chapter, Many Partings that the name Arwen came about for Elrond's daughter.
The names of some of the characters such as Trotter (Strider), Cosimo Sackville-Baggins (Lotho) and Barnibas Butterbur (Barliman) did not get changed until the third manuscript.
At first in the chapter The Scouring of the Shire, Frodo was given a
more aggressive part than he had in the Lord of the Rings, though the
words he spoke to Sam in what was at that time called In the Land of Shadow
were already present:
In the first draft for the Scouring of the Shire, the Party Tree, under which Bilbo made his farewell speech was still standing though in the later workings, the Party Tree was cut down.
Originally, Tolkien planned to have an epilogue to the Lord of the Rings in which Sam was answering his children's questions years later. This was never finished but the workings are present in Sauron Defeated.
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