In this biweekly series, we’re exploring the evolution of both major and minor figures in Tolkien’s legendarium, tracing the transformations of these characters through drafts and early manuscripts through to the finished work. This week’s installment takes a look at the story of Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, connoisseur of silver spoons and wielder of umbrellas.
Ah, Lobelia. When I first decided to write about the matriarch of the Sackville-Bagginses, I knew there wasn’t going to be much information to work with (turns out there was only a little more than I thought). She only makes a few appearances in The Lord of the Rings, and in most of these she and her family are presented in a fairly unpleasant light. To many, she comes off as snobbish, snide, and generally rude. It’s impossible to deny that she has a predilection for silver spoons and is…well, a bit of a kleptomaniac.
But Lobelia is one of only a few Hobbit women who are given more than a momentary glance in Middle-earth, and a compelling character in her own right. And what’s more, her narrative arc illustrates beautifully some of the more important lessons The Lord of the Rings has to teach, as she becomes an unlikely hero to those who had consistently refused to give her a chance.