J.R.R. Tolkien: Builder of Pipe-Centric Worlds

Portrait of J.R.R. Tolkien by Artur Lopes

The influence of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien on modern literature, culture, and even pipe smoking, is immeasurable. He supercharged the fantasy genre and made it more accessible to millions. Enormously popular games like Dungeons and Dragons are loosely based on his literary inventiveness. Because of Tolkien, cultural understanding of classically imaginary creatures like elves and trolls has evolved and advanced. Fantasy monsters like dragons and giant spiders have taken on new and complex meanings, and Tolkien's development of other creatures from his own imagination, like balrogs, Nazgûl, and orcs, have been imbued with complexity, history, language, and a dizzying level of sophistication. He has inspired art, literature, and music, and is often called the father of modern fantasy. The rich detail of his books has engendered similar treatments and supported a thriving fantasy genre.

Tolkien invented 10 different languages for The Lord of the Rings (LOTR), each appropriate to the races speaking them and complete with alphabets, rules of grammar, and usage. He invented complex histories not pertaining to the current action but supporting the motivations of his characters, bringing texture, background, and logic to their behavior. His skill as a world-builder is rich and unmatched.

Pipes of Middle Earth

Everyone has their own favorite characters and images from J.R.R. Tolkien: The evil barrow wights, the majestic patience of the Ents, the destruction of Orthanc, the gifts of Galadriel, Farmer Maggot's unexpected friendliness, Tom Bombadil's enormous but low-key power, Eowyn slaying the Nazgûl ... there are countless memorable episodes throughout his opus, all freighted with emotion and with characters that we admire or fear and wish we could share a pipe with. And through it all, Tolkien the pipe smoker wanted his characters to benefit from their pipes as he did, and we benefit from their inclusion in Middle Earth.

Pipe smoking in Middle Earth is more than background detail. As Mark Irwin has noted in his excellent book, Pipe Smoking in Middle Earth, The Hobbit is framed by smoking, with pipes an integral part of the work from the first time Bilbo is seen: "Bilbo Baggins was standing at his door after breakfast smoking an enormous long wooden pipe that reached nearly down to his wooly toes." The book appropriately ends with tobacco as well, as Bilbo and Gandalf unwind after their adventure: "'You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!' 'Thank goodness!' said Bilbo laughing, and handed him the tobacco-jar."

Most importantly, Bilbo's pipe is linked to all of the action to follow in LOTR, because it is while in Gollum's cave that Bilbo in the dark on hands and knees finds "a tiny ring of cold metal lying on the floor of the tunnel," and immediately realizes he is lost. His very next act is to search himself for his pipe. We learn of the Ring's power and importance only much later, but it's notable that the Ring and the pipe are seemingly opposing forces in balance for this single instant.

Bilbo's pipe precipitates all of the action to follow in LOTR

There's a happy thematic unity in that seemingly accidental occurrence. Throughout Tolkien's Middle Earth saga we are reminded that it is the humble joy of common living that has the most value, not the attainment of great power and the control of others. Friends, mushrooms, pipe tobacco, food, and vegetable gardens are all demonstrated time and again to be symbols of contentment. Imposingly advanced beings, in acquiring their power and thirsting for more, are not content, nor do they bring contentment to the races of beings who populate Middle Earth. While the powerful search the lands and marshes to find the One Ring, it is Bilbo who succeeds, and his response is to seek the comfort of his trusty pipe.

The Importance of Pipes and Friendship

Tolkien in his study as a Fellow at Oxford's Merton College, 1955

Pipes are closely linked to friendship in Tolkien, as when Bilbo presents Elven-made pipes with pearl mouthpieces and "bound with fine-wrought silver" to Merry and Pippin in Rivendell. One of the most poignant and amusing episodes related to pipes takes place in The Two Towers when, after much adventure, Gimli and Legolas are reunited with Merry and Pippin outside a guardhouse in Isengard. Gimli, relieved to find his friends safe after their kidnapping by orcs, is sarcastically and good-naturedly exasperated, for the hobbits are lounging and smoking with plates and bottles indicating a spent meal and lying about in the destruction of Saruman's stronghold.

"And what about your companions, what about Legolas and me?" cried Gimli, unable to contain himself longer. "You rascals, you wooly-footed and wool-pated truants! A fine hunt you have led us! Two hundred leagues, through fen and forest, battle and death, to rescue you! And here we find you feasting and idling — and smoking! Smoking! Where did you come by the weed, you villains? Hammer and tongs! I am so torn between rage and joy, that if I do not burst, it will be a marvel!" The Two Towers (Book 3, chapter 8)

The hobbits feed their friends and afterward provide the finest Longbottom tobacco from the storehouses of Isengard, but Gimli is once again discontent, for he lost his pipe in Moria. "We shall have to share pipes," says Merry, "as good friends must at a pinch."

"Half a moment!" said Pippin. Putting his hand inside the breast of his jacket he pulled out a little soft wallet on a string. "I keep a treasure or two near my skin, as precious as Rings to me. Here's one: my old wooden pipe. And here's another: an unused one. I have carried it a long way, though I don't know why. I never really expected to find any pipe-weed on the journey, when my own ran out. But now it comes in useful after all." He held up a small pipe with a wide flattened bowl, and handed it to Gimli. "Does this settle the score between us?" he said.

"Settle it!" cried Gimli. "Most noble hobbit, it leaves me deep in your debt."

"He held up a small pipe with a wide flattened bowl, and handed it to Gimli. 'Does this settle the score between us?'"

The reason that Pippin does not expect to find any tobacco after leaving the Shire is because the Shire is where tobacco is cultivated for smoking. No other place in Middle Earth does so, though it is found throughout the lands. The Prancing Pony in Bree is the crossroads for tobacco in Middle Earth, and it is in Bree that travelers discover tobacco and its comforting properties and take it with them to far and away places.

Thus the Shire is the home of tobacco as well as the home of the hobbits, further symbolizing smoking as representative of home and comfort. Even the evil wizard Saruman eventually finds enjoyment in tobacco, though he at first disapproves of the leaf when Gandalf is smoking:

Both the silence and the smoke seemed greatly to annoy Saruman, and before the Council dispersed he said to Gandalf: "When weighty matters are in debate, Mithrandir, I wonder a little that you should play with your toys of fire and smoke, while others are in earnest speech."

But Gandalf laughed, and replied: "You would not wonder, if you used this herb yourself. You might find that smoke blown out cleared your mind of shadows within. Anyway, it gives patience, to listen to error without anger. But it is not one of my toys. It is an art of the Little People away in the West: merry and worthy folk, though not of much account, perhaps, in your high policies." (Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-earth, 1980, by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien)

Saruman insults Gandalf because of his smoking but is secretly attracted to its advantages and arranges for its export from the Shire, which is why Merry and Pippin are able to find tobacco in his store rooms after his defeat.

The Importance of Tobacco

So important is tobacco that Tolkien chose to dedicate the second chapter of his prologue to Fellowship of the Ring to tobacco and pipe smoking. The section is called "Concerning Pipeweed" and provides quotes from, says Tolkien, Meriadoc Brandybuck's Herblore of the Shire. Merry is a true tobacconist and is the expert on tobacco in Middle Earth:

This is the one art that we can certainly claim to be our own invention. When Hobbits first began to smoke is not known, all the legends and family histories take it for granted; for ages folk in the Shire smoked various herbs, some fouler, some sweeter. But all accounts agree that Tobold Hornblower of Longbottom in the Southfarthing first grew the true pipe-weed in his gardens in the days of Isengrim the Second, about the year of 1070 of Shire-reckoning. The best home-grown still comes from that district, especially the varieties now known as Longbottom Leaf, Old Toby, and Southern Star.

How Old Toby came by the plant is not recorded, for to his dying day he would not tell. He knew much about herbs, but he was no traveler. It is said that in his youth he went often to Bree, though he certainly never went further from the Shire than that ... And certainly it was from Bree that the art of smoking the genuine weed spread in the recent centuries among Dwarves and such other folk, Rangers, Wizards, or wanderers, as still passed to and fro through that ancient road-meeting. The home and centre of the art is thus to be found in the old inn of Bree, The Prancing Pony, and has been kept by the family of Butterbur from time beyond record.

All the same, observations that I have made on my own many journeys south have convinced me that the weed itself is not native to our part of the world, but came northward from the lower Anduin, whither it was, I suspect, originally brought over Sea by the Men of Westernesse. It grows abundantly in Gondor, and there it is richer and larger than in the North, where it is never found wild, and flourishes only in warm sheltered places like Longbottom. The Men of Gondor call it sweet galenas, and esteem it only for the fragrance of its flowers. From that land it must have been carried up the Greenway during the long centuries between the coming of Elendil and our own days. But even the Dúnedain of Gondor allow us this credit: Hobbits first put it into pipes.

Why Tolkien would include such a detailed history about pipe smoking in no less an important place than the prologue of his trilogy is clear: Tobacco is an essential element of Middle Earth and its importance to hobbits had to be emphasized before the action even started, to place it in perspective. He knew his characters would be smoking to emphasize friendship and contented interludes between action and battles, and that smoking would seem out of place if not supported by history. He prepares his readers so that the integral smoking to follow would be natural.

Tobacco is an essential element of Middle Earth

Merry's expertise in regard to tobacco is wonderfully displayed when he meets Théoden, King of Rohan, in Isengard. Théoden is surprised and comments on the streams of smoke issuing from the hobbit's lips, and Merry, standing amid the wreckage of battle before a great king and other exalted personages, immediately launches into tobacco history because for him, it is appropriately important and he can't help himself. Gandalf interrupts him and laughs, explaining to Théoden that hobbits can be surrounded by ruin and happily launch into detailed histories such as that of pipeweed. When Théoden departs, he is much impressed and says, "Farewell, my hobbits! May we meet again in my house! There you shall sit beside me and tell me all that your hearts desire: the deeds of your grandsires, as far as you can reckon them; and we will speak also of Tobold the Old and his herblore."

Later, fallen in battle and dying, Théoden's final words are to Merry on the battlefield on the Fields of Pelennor: "Live now in blessedness; and when you sit in peace with your pipe, think of me! For never now shall I sit with you in Meduseld, as I promised, or listen to your herb-lore." It is a heart-breaking moment, and for a while Merry believes he can never again enjoy his pipe because it will remind him of losing his friend, but Aragorn convinces him otherwise: "Smoke, then, and think of him!" said Aragorn. "For he was a gentle heart and a great king and kept his oaths; and he rose out of the shadows to a last fair morning. Though your service to him was brief, it should be a memory glad and honourable to the end of your days."

Merry is convinced, and the rich experience of pipe smoking is advanced by Tolkien as a mode of meditating on the poignant memories of friends no longer with us.

Samwise the Hero

While the rest of the Fellowship is battling and adventuring across the land, Samwise Gamgee and Frodo Baggins are making their way to Mount Doom, and they experience little in the way of pipe smoking. In fact, Frodo is never seen smoking, adding to his somewhat aloof nature and segregating him from the other hobbits, though that aspect of his character is never emphasized. Perhaps the burden of the Ring is so great that he cannot be distracted, but even when returning to the Shire he is not a smoker. This detail is in common with the Elves, who are likewise not seen smoking, though they are skilled at pipe making, and thus Frodo is subtly aligned in personality with the elder race.

However, Sam does not give up on his pipe. He made sure to pack a good supply of pipe weed and flint and tinder before leaving Rivendell, but like all their supplies, it is exhausted long before their destination is reached. As he and Frodo reach the pass of Cirith Ungol near the great spider Shelob's despicable lair, Sam has a dream of looking for something:

"A job of work for me, I can see; but I'm so tired," he kept on saying. Presently he remembered what he was looking for. "My pipe!" he said, and with that he woke up.

"Silly! he said to himself, as he opened his eyes and wondered why he was lying down under the hedge. "It's in your pack all the time!" Then he realized, first that the pipe might be in his pack but he had no leaf, and next that he was hundreds of miles from Bag End.

The gravity of their surroundings is made more stark by the lack of tobacco, that emblem of home and safety and comfort. While many heroes emerge from Tolkien's work, Sam is undoubtedly the primary hero of LOTR. His loyalty and commitment to Frodo make the plot work, and his courage is particularly demonstrated because it is contained in such an unprepossessing body as that of a hobbit. As humble as his station as a gardener may be (though gardeners are held in highest regard by the people of Gondor after his adventure), he has no problem with pointing fingers and stomping up to warriors who he deems have disrespected Frodo, and giving them a tongue lashing, including such impressive characters as Aragorn and Faramir. And he, a small hobbit, not a warrior, is able to escape an attack by Gollum and run headlong and determined toward Shelob, who is perhaps the most fearsome monster in the trilogy and who has made brave, seasoned warriors run in terror.

Also, Sam is relatively unaffected by the Ring, which he bears for no small length of time, and willingly returns it to Frodo, an act that is impossible for almost anyone else and a clear indication that his humble nature and appreciation for home and hearth possesses great power in itself. Both Bilbo and Frodo are horribly affected by their experiences as Ring bearers, but Sam is well grounded and able to recover. It is Sam who most ably returns to normalcy after returning to the Shire. And it is Sam who returns the Shire to its beauty after Saruman has all but destroyed it. He uses his gift from Galadriel freely to bring greenery and a banner tobacco crop back to the Shire.

There are far too many examples of pipe smoking in Tolkien to provide them all here, but it may be noted that Pipe Smoking in Middle Earth by Mark Irwin contains excellent essays on pipe smoking throughout Tolkien, including a compelling observation that the nine ringwraiths are balanced by nine pipe smokers, and a detailed concordance of every mention of pipes, tobaccos, and their accessories. "The Ring continues with 14 references to pipes, tobacco and smoking in The Fellowship of the Ring, 11 in The Two Towers, and 10 in Return of the King ... And in all of this it is not surprising to find out that Tolkien was much more than a pipe smoker, but was in fact, a pipeman whose 'collection was very extensive,' according to his grandson Adam." It is currently out of print, but Mark intends to re-release it this Christmas in a revised version, so watch for its availability.

Tolkien the Man

Born in 1892, J.R.R. Tolkien was the son of an English banker stationed in South Africa. While on a trip to England with his mother and younger brother to visit relatives when he was three, his father died, leaving the family without income, and they moved in with his mother's family. Home schooled, he especially loved languages and learned Latin when he was very young. He could read well by the age of four and his education progressed, but his mother died when he was 12 and he and his brother were taken care of by their Catholic priest, Father Francis Xavier Morgan.

Father Morgan was a large influence on his life. In Life and Work of JRR Tolkien (2002), Michael White writes that "as an adult, Tolkien claimed that it was from watching the Father so evidently enjoying drawing on a long cherry wood pipe on the veranda of the Oratory House at Rednal that had inspired him to start smoking a pipe himself."

... if not for lice, we would most probably not have Middle Earth

In his early teens, Tolkien, with his cousin Mary, invented a complex language they called Naffarin and he also learned Esperanto. In 1911, he entered Exeter College, Oxford, graduating with a degree in English and literature in 1915. Readers of Tolkien will easily recognize that he was a linguist with an incredible understanding of languages and how they work. His interest led to a university degree in 1915 with Old Norse as his specialized area of study, and he subsequently worked for the Oxford English Dictionary, specifically, on entries for the letter "w."

At age 16, Tolkien met the love of his life, Edith Mary Bratt, and they began spending time together, but Father Morgan did not approve of Tolkien seeing a woman three years older than he and a protestant besides. Because Tolkien was concentrating on that relationship instead of his studies, his grades suffered, and the priest insisted that he not have anything to do with Edith until he was 21. He was not permitted to speak with or write to her, and definitely not to see her in person.

It was hard, but Tolkien accepted his guardian's instructions and waited until the evening of his 21st birthday to write to Edith and profess his love, asking her to marry him. Unfortunately, she had become engaged, not knowing if she would ever see Tolkien again. He visited her in 1913 and they spent the day together, at the end of which she agreed to break her engagement and marry him, which she did in March 1916.

World War I interfered with his life at about that time. He was commissioned as a temporary second lieutenant in the Lancashire Fusiliers in July of 1915 and sent to France just a few months after his marriage.

He experienced trench warfare and wrote about the wretchedness of lice on the battlefield, which kept him and his friends up all night every night. However, those lice may have saved his life. As his battalion attacked the Regina Trench during the Battle of the Somme, he was stricken with trench fever, a disease carried by lice and, deemed unfit for combat, he was sent back to England. Almost his entire battalion was destroyed and all but one of his friends died. Think of that. It must have been a horrible thing for him, and perhaps survivor's guilt plagued him, but if not for lice, we would most probably not have Middle Earth.

"Tolkien claimed that it was from watching the Father so evidently enjoying drawing on a long cherry wood pipe on the veranda of the Oratory House at Rednal that had inspired him to start smoking a pipe himself."

Tolkien resumed his academic career, but he wrote relatively little in the way of scholarly writing, except for some translations, concentrating instead on his fiction. He wrote The Hobbit while teaching at Pembroke College, as well as the first two books of his famous trilogy, and in 1945 he became the Merton Professor of English Language and literature at Merton College, retiring in 1959.

His students found him somewhat difficult to understand in lectures. He had a slight speech impediment exacerbated by his pipe, which he never removed from his mouth, and combined with his casual inflection, soft voice, mumbling, and the clicking and sucking sounds he made with his pipe, it was challenging to hear him. As for his tobacco, a Tolkien Forum thread on the subject mentions that Capstan tins were found in his household for storing various items, and his son Christopher smoked Navy Cut before he quit smoking. Mark Irwin's revised Pipe Smoking in Middle Earth will reference a bill owned by the Tolkien estate and reproduced on the Tolkien Gateway website, made out to J.R.R. Tolkien in March of 1972 for a pound of Capstan Navy Cut Medium (Capstan Blue) in two-ounce tins. That bill also carries a short note from Tolkien: "Quite correct, & I apologize for neglect amid many troubles."

In Life and Work of JRR Tolkien (2002), by Michael White, some of the way Tolkien spoke is described:

In many ways, Tolkien had been old before his time. As a young man he had held to rather old-fashioned ideas, and these had never left him. Indeed, as old age crept up on him, many of the good and bad aspects of his personality became exaggerated. His speech impediment became worse so that to some he was almost incomprehensible, a characteristic Tolkien made far worse by clenching a pipe between his teeth during almost every waking moment.

In "The Filial Duty of Christopher Tolkien" Tolkien Treasury by Alida Becker, we learn a little more about what it was like to converse with Tolkien:

I remember sitting in his study, which was the converted garage of his house in Sandfield Road, Oxford, and listening to Tolkien, creator and first inhabitant of that beneficently enchanting world of Middle Earth. He was wandering up and down, endlessly striking matches to light the pipe he was never without, and talking through it, and round it, and sometimes to it, and to me, and frequently over my head, about that long-awaited next book.

"He was wandering up and down, endlessly striking matches to light the pipe he was never without..."

His reputation grew in later life, especially after retirement. His friend C.S. Lewis, with whom he shared drafts of his writings, nominated him for a Nobel prize in 1961. He eventually had to have an unlisted phone number because he was receiving phone calls day and night from fans wanting to ask questions.

Edith died in 1971, and Tolkien moved back to Merton College. He was named a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for his contribution to the arts in 1972, and that same year Oxford University made him an honorary Doctorate of Letters. He died the next year at age 81 and was buried in the same grave as his beloved Edith, for whom he had engraved the name Luthien under her name. Under his own name was carved the name Beren, referring to the great love story of an elf and a mortal man that he had written about in The Silmarillion, their adventures and exploits and love the greatest of the relationships he had brought forth from his unending imagination.

    References:

  • Pipe Smoking in Middle Earth (2012) by Mark Irwin
  • Life and Work of JRR Tolkien (2002) by Michael White
  • "The Filial Duty of Christopher Tolkien" Tolkien Treasury (2012) by Alida Becker
  • Life and Work of JRR Tolkien (2002) by Michael White

Comments

    • Gabriel hall on August 27, 2021
    • Do yourself a favour and read this whilst smoking a church warden and listening to a wonderful rendition of the LoTR music of Howard Shore by Lukasz Kupuscinski: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=polw2YaLOXE

    • Dan on August 27, 2021
    • What a gift! Thank you, Chuck. I did not know that he had a huge pipe collection. There's a pretty good video on YouTube 'BBC Archival Footage- In Their Own Words British Authors J.R.R. Tolkien Part 1 (13:45), where towards the end of the interview Tolkien is sitting in a chair by the fireplace, drinking beer out of a large mug with a large pitcher of beer by his side on a table, and he's smoking his pipe. He makes the statement of how he has always smoked, that he enjoys smoking, and that smoking has become so tied in with writing that he couldn't imagine writing without it. And if anyone enjoyed Artur Lopes's great work above, I would suggest purchasing the 'spheres: Breath, Calm, and Indulgence' from the book section here at SP. There's an article in there titled "Smoke It Like Gandalf" with some awesome LOTR illustrations from Artur Lopes. I won't gush here about my love and obsession of Alan Lee's work on Tolkien. I will definitely mark my calendar for M. Irwin's book release (thanks for the heads up on that). Thanks again for this beautiful and thorough article, I learned something new about Tolkien. I think that you might be an Istari.

    • Dan on August 28, 2021
    • Oh, I'm guilty of talking to my pipes too. I thought that was normal. That part had me rolling.

    • Aaron S on August 28, 2021
    • What an amazing text! Thank you very much! I have good memories of the time when I read LOTR and other works of J. R. R. Tolkien.

    • Frank P. on August 28, 2021
    • Okay well now you did it! I have to go get those tomes and read them again. I have loved these books since high school and over the 45 years since, I have read them many times. The last few though have been with a long draw and a good sip. Thanks for the nudge Chuck - as if any of us really needs one!! I love the background you have on Tolkien - some new info to me. Always a pleasure to read you!

    • Kathleen Champion on August 29, 2021
    • Great article and very informative to me. I love my pipes...one neerup churchwarden thats contemplative to smoke and of course I luv The Lord of the Rings.! Thanks! Smoke on!

    • Joseph Kirkland on August 29, 2021
    • Oh, Wow! Amazing.

    • Benjamin G on August 29, 2021
    • "Mark intends to re-release it this Christmas in a revised version, so watch for its availability."Where?!? I have the original, but I would happily plunk down the money for a revised version.Oh! And I loved the rest of the article, too 😊

    • Bill Brooks on August 29, 2021
    • You guys have become much more then pipes @ tobacco. Don’t go anywhere

    • D. on August 29, 2021
    • I stumbled upon the trilogy while framing houses around Indianapolis one summer break from highschool, mid 80s. Someone had set out all 3 books, mint condition, to be collected by the garbage man. They were sitting on top of some unwanted furniture. They were paperback and all 3 had the big fold out maps behind the back cover. I still have them to this day in my closet, on the top shelf, within sight. I remember feeling like it took forever to get through the Dead Marshes, I felt like I was really there and wading through concrete or stuck in Shelob's web. These books are a great escape (and there's a lot of symbolism in his writing), especially under the current circumstances. Thank you for this one, Chuck!

    • MarkinAZ on August 29, 2021
    • Chuck, thank you for sharing this background story on JJR Tolkien, and Gabriel Hall, a thank you for sharing the link to Lukasz Kupuscinski!

    • Paul on August 29, 2021
    • Thanks Chuck. I have read Tolkien in the fall for nearly fifty years, and used to puff in my fathers unlit pipes as a child, before they passed to me. You really caught the wonder of pipes in his world. Thank you!

    • DAVE SOMMER on August 29, 2021
    • Chuck,You have done it once again. You deserve a Pulitzer for the way you weave a story around a hobby that we all share. Wonderful writing and story to boot.

    • Eric on August 29, 2021
    • Enjoyed this very much, Chuck-- Bravo!

    • JAMES on August 29, 2021
    • Chuck, thank you for another great read. I got to my desk this morning and found this piece in my email. Next to the laptop was a Mason jar of Frog Morton.So here in the wilds of Oregon the day starts with coffee, Stanion, and Frog Morton in a Weber.

    • Tom on August 29, 2021
    • Great story! I really enjoy your writing.

    • Don on August 29, 2021
    • Yes, I really enjoyed J.B. Priestly, J.R.R. Tolkien, and C.S. Lewis over the years and even the whole Sherlock Holmes--all with pipes, and especially a nice old Churchwarden. Great way to end an evening.

    • El Pirulin de la Habana on August 29, 2021
    • ...great article!!!!

    • Joe Thornton on August 29, 2021
    • Thoroughly enjoyed this article!

    • Phil Wiggins Glauser on August 29, 2021
    • Happy Hobbit Pipes Smoker A!!! ✡️🇨🇦🇮🇱

    • J. B. Webb on August 29, 2021
    • Chuck - great theme, research, & integration of pipes, tobacco, & of the special moments shared by us pipesters. JBW .

    • Joshua on August 29, 2021
    • Thank you so much for these 2, my favorite, articles of Tolkien and Lewis. Tears of joy stream down my face as I read of my two favorite authors. Their contributions were a major part of my childhood. Of course I smoked a pipe as I read them. God bless.

    • ed otoole on August 29, 2021
    • I have the lord of the rings and the hobbit audio books in my car . After a hard work day smoking a well earned pipe a listening to those books brings me to a better place. Ty for this great article

    • Boil on August 30, 2021
    • Great read! I have a Cobbit Shire & a tan Smokingpipes pipe/tobacco pouch coming in Wednesday. An assortment of tobaccos from The Country Squire are due in today (Monday); Shepard's Pie, Old Toby, Second Breakfast, and some Green Dragon & Rivendell, which I intend to mix into a batch of Weathertop! So a most timely article indeed!

    • William on August 30, 2021
    • Well written and well researched. There are recordings of Tolkien reading from his books, and probably he smoked while reading, but if so, that doesn't hinder understanding him in the least. My LOTR adventure began in the Peace Corps, since the 100 paperback "book locker" which all volunteers received, contained the 1st volume of the trilogy. When I finished reading it, with one of those cliffhanger endings that Tolkien did so well, I immediately wrote home asking in desperation for the other two. Only later did I read The Hobbit which, although a prologue to LOTR, has added meaning if you've first read the trilogy.

    • William on August 30, 2021
    • The YouTube video mentioned by Dan is a must see. I immensely enjoyed watching Christopher Tolkien (pipe in hand), talking astutely about his father.

    • B on August 30, 2021
    • Fantastic Article.Well done, dude.

    • Paige Simns on August 30, 2021
    • Wow. I thought I knew everything about him due to my addiction to LOTR.......never knew of his speech impediment. signed Ea...... Paige's cat

    • Tampy on August 31, 2021
    • I've read somewhere that in learning to become a good writer you should write drunk and edit sober...well, I don't have time for editing or am I rarely sober(I exaggerate, maybe). Despite your's and Dayton's heated discussion over the J.R.R. Tolkien article, cover art of Pipes and TOBACCOS winter 2001 issue, of it being too busy...I side with you, Chuck. It looks fine, but I can't help from feeling that you were just being humorous, lol. I miss that magazine! Something tangible that you could hold and drool over. SMOKINGPIPES is the next best thing, the only thing that I've found to fill the void. There is no life in the void, only death. -Sauron. Yes, I binge watched the whole trilogy on Sunday. I got the bug from somewhere...thank you.

    • Jon DeCles on August 31, 2021
    • My sister, who was far away, read the books as they came out: which meant she had to wait two years for the last volume. That must have been agony. I read them shortly after the whole set was published, and quickly came to the conclusion that TLOTR is the greatest novel in the English language: an opinion in which I have never wavered.Thank you, Chuck, for another excellent article, and for your wonderful writing.And yes, I have a churchwarden in which I smoke Capstan Blue. --Also a green one in which I smoke 3 Nuns.

    • Mitchell Hart on September 1, 2021
    • I enjoy pipe smoking, and I enjoy Tolkien. This article was great, thank you; keep up the great work.

    • Smokebacca on September 1, 2021
    • Dang Chuck, you're working overtime to sell me on a Neerup churchwarden! A most generous article to share. Thank you.

    • William on September 2, 2021
    • Chuck, a suggestion: Georges Simenon, "one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century" merits your attention. The Wikipedia article is quite extensive, but provides nothing pipe related on this author who was seldom seen without his pipe.

    • Light Bringer on September 2, 2021
    • Dear inhabitants of Hell, I regret to inform you that any suggestions or requests for ice water will be denied due to the whining and complaining. I would apologise for the incovenience, but it is Hell. -Lucifer

    • Walkman on September 2, 2021
    • Wonderful article, Chuck!

    • Light Bringer on September 2, 2021
    • *inconvenience...my editing imps have some torment coming their way.

    • Tampaholic on September 3, 2021
    • The tear jerker is that he lost both parents at such an early age and the loss of his friends. Surrounded by so much loss and death. Not only do we have the lice to be thankful for, but also every other life occuring event that shaped and influenced him to become the writer he was. I thought that I read somewhere that the intro to The HOBBIT, "In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit..." was inspired by his life in the trenches during the war. I could be wrong. After watching the video on YouTube, he seems like the kind of approachable guy that you could sit down and enjoy a pipe and some beer with. Thank you for this generous article, Chuck.

    • Tampaholic on September 3, 2021
    • I, also, enjoyed the photos in this detailed article. Thank you, again! "May the hair on your toes never fall out!" -The Hobbit

    • Tampaholic on September 3, 2021
    • I don't think that my mind can make the transition to football after dwelling in Middle Earth so recently. The only thing that my imagination conjures up after reading the word 'football' is a take from the Two Towers movie, The Battle of Helms Deep, where the orc runs the bomb into the culvert for a touchdown. I apologise, Jeffrey, it might take me some time to process your article.

    • Tim Garrity on September 7, 2021
    • Funny thing about the characters in Tolkien’s world is that all of the various characters smoked. There are exceptions of coarse, the elves did not smoke. This last piece, coupled with my love of Tolkien’s work, always find the flaw in the various blends named after Tolkien’s characters. IE Any blend named after an elf. The geek in me finds such names passing strange.

    • D. on September 8, 2021
    • The geek and fan in me wanted and still wants to have a Hobbit home built in the ground. There was a company that I found on the internet, years ago, that was building them(professional grade work). They were using these gigantic concrete tubes and the finished product, with all the amenities, looked awesome.

    • Chuck Stanion on September 8, 2021
    • @D. -- Right? Hobbit-style homes are, by definition, comfy. There seem to be lots of people who agree. Check out some of these homes, if you have a chance: https://www.thecoolist.com/hobbit-homes/ Some are Hobbit holes most of us would feel at home in, just made for pipe smoking -- as any Hobbit residence should be.

    • D. on September 9, 2021
    • Thank you, Chuck ;) Greatly appreciated!

    • BurningWycke on November 20, 2021
    • I have been both a reader of Tolkien and a smoker of pipes for over 40 years...

    • The Gift Bearer on December 16, 2021
    • https://people.com/movies/lord-of-the-rings-stars-reunite-20th-anniversary-rap-stephen-colbert/

    • Mark on February 12, 2022
    • Thank you so much for publishing this. What a great pleasure it was to read!

    • Paul on April 5, 2022
    • Great stuff. I would say that rather than supercharging the fantasy genre, he was the inventor of the modern fantasy genre known as high fantasy, or epic fantasy. And, his novels remain at the pinnacle of the genre.

    • Maexx on April 26, 2022
    • Great Article! I wonder if there is any information about a release-date for the revised edition of Mark Irvings book? I can't find it anywhere.

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