So was Gollum/Smeagol once a Hobbit. Spoilers!

Ok I am an older guy - avid bibliophile - who decided to pick up the collectors edtion of The Lord of the Rings, Illustrated by Alan Lee. I just finished reading all the 1193 pages of spell-binding adventure that once encircled me when I was a younger man reading it in the late 60’s. Now, am I missing something, or did I momentarily enter a fugue state when Tolkien said Gollum was once a Hobbit. I know in the Two Towers Frodo says Gollum was once not much different from a hobbit, but what does that mean? Was Smeagol actually a hobbit?

I think Smeagol was related to Hobbits, but wasn’t actually one.


Smeagol was a Hobbit like 800 years* before Bilbo found the ring.

He and his pal Deagol were out fishing and Deagol found the Ring. Smeagol snuffed Deagol, took the ring and went to hide under the Misty Mountains. Y’know how at the beginning of LotR, Bilbo describes himself as feeling thin and stretched out, like butter spread over too much toast? That’s what the ring did to Smeagol over all those years.


*800 years may be off. Some of the major Tolkien geeks will certainly be here to correct me momentarily

IIRC, it was stated in The hobbit that he was.

Gollum had been around for over 500 years before the main events of the book, and I think he found it back in the days when the Hobbits were slowly migrating west, he found it in the Anduin where Isildur lost it.

I think he was a “Stoor” which was one of the three rough and ready varieties of Hobbits. Fallowhides and Harfoots are the other two. Stoors were generally a bit taller, sometimes wore footwear and were more keen on boats and water than the rest of the Hobbit population.

[Disclaimer: according the Middle Earth Roleplaying game at least]

according **to[/] the Middle Earth Roleplaying game that is.

It’s probably stated elsewhere, in the canon, but that’s where I got it from anyways.

Fenris says 800, which may be right bookwise, but the film said 500 in the introduction.

Smeagol is probably older than the hobbit race itself… I think he was a proto-hobbit, an ancestor of the hobbits.

Yes I do remeber this, whats weird is that I just finished reading all four books starting with my 60’s copy of the Hobbit. And I only ask this question here because it is still vague to me after finishing the entire series.

So was he a stoor or not, he certainly didn’t have footwear on in any of the book I recently finished, yet he did have quite a liking for fish though?


You can read about his history in the book ‘Jonathan Livingston Smeagol’.

2463: “About this time Deagol the Stoor finds the One Ring, and is murdered by Smeagol”

2941: “Bilbo meets Smeagol-Gollum and finds the Ring”


a) About 478 years pass.

b) Smeagol is a Stoor, i.e. definitely a Hobbit.

P.S. Should have said that the above is from Appendix B of “The Return of the King”.

OK, ok but:

1050: Hyarmendacil conquers the Harad. Gondor reaches the height of it’s power. About this time a shadow falls on Greenwood, and men begin to call it Mirkwood. The Periannath are first mentioned in records, with the coming of the Harfoots to Eriador.

C.1050: The fallohides enter Eriador. The Stoors come over the Redhorn Pass and move to the Angle, or to Dunland.

1300: …the Periannath migrate westward; many settle at Bree.

1356: The Stoors leave the Angle, and some return to Wilderland.

The great plague of 1636 desolates many Periannath but they still survive.

Deagol may be a Stoor, but it doesn’t say Smeagol is, granted the spelling of their names is relative.

The Encyclopedia of Arda seems to be down, but here’s a pretty decent attempt at answering the question based on the textual sources:

I don’t know that I’d go so far as to call Smeagol a Hobbit, but that’s based as much on cultural differences between Smeagol’s people and the later Hobbits as it is on anything else. Gandalf says “I guess they were of hobbit-kind; akin to the fathers of the fathers of the Stoors,” and if Gandalf is hesitant to give them full status as Hobits, that’s a pretty good reason to qualify the description as far as I’m concerned.

From The Tolkien Companion, by J.E.A. Tyler, 1976. St. Martin’s Press, NYC (which may or may not be authoritative dependng, I guess, on how hard-core you are. As a rank amateur, however, whose interest in Tolkien has returned after I first–and last–read the book[s] 15 years ago only because of the movies, it works for me. Obviously, YMMV. Amazon’s information about the book, including reader reviews, can be found here, although I note that mine is a first edition!)

Excerpted from the much larger entry:

So, according to this source the answer to the OP is “Yes, but a different kind of Hobbit”.

Yes. The Stoors were a geneological branch of Hobbits, fairly closely related to Men. They were the only hobbits who knew anything about boating or swimming, and were fond of fishing.

Smeagol was a Stoor, and his cousin Deagol found the Ring in the Anduin River, presumably not far from where Isildur lost it. Smeagol lost his head and murdered Deagol for the Ring when Deagol refused to give it to him.

Smeagol was then driven out of his community. He wandered for a while, eventually winding up in his cave in the Misty Mountains, where he remained for over 500 years, eventually mutating into what he was when Bilbo found the Ring and met – Gollum.

Not quite. Smeagol’s people were “akin to the fathers of the fathers of the Stoors,” i.e., they were not the Stoors themselves.

Well, they are cousins.

Given that only a few centuries separate Smeagol and Bilbo and taking into account the long life spans, slow maturation and limited number of offspring of Hobbits, I’d say Smeagol’s folk would not have been physically distinct from Hobbits of Bilbo’s day. If they were considered a different race, it would have had to have been on cultural grounds.

BTW, could it be that Hobbits represent the only known instance of evolution in Middle Earth? Most of the peoples and creatures seem to be what they were at the creation, if somewhat diminished. Hobbits, however, seem to have branched off the race of men and developed distinctive characteristics.

Happy eleventy-first!

Sure, but the Tale of Years names Deagol as a Stoor, so his cousin Smeagol would also be a Stoor (unless these fisherfolk had decidedly odd breeding habits).

It is admittedly ambiguous in the text.