from Douglas A. Anderson’s Introduction to The Annotated Hobbit, by J. R. R. Tolkien
- Tolkien often recounted how he began the story. One hot summer day, he was sitting at his desk, correcting students’ examination papers (then called School Certificate papers) on English literature. He told an interviewer, “One of the candidates had mercifully left one of the pages with no writing on it, which is the best thing that can possibly happen to an examiner, and I wrote on it: ‘In a hole in the ground lived a hobbit.’ Names always generate a story in my mind: eventually I thought I’d better find out what hobbits were like.” Elsewhere he added, “Later on, some months later, I thought this was too good to leave just on the back of the examination paper . . . “
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