Was Gollum a hobbit?

Yes, beyond all doubt. Gandalf's opinion alone: "I guess they were of hobbit-kind; akin to the fathers of the fathers of the Stoors" (FR, 62) should be sufficient to settle this, but it is confirmed in several other places. The Tale of Years (RK, Appendix B) has the following entry for the year TA 2463: "About this time Deagol the Stoor finds the One Ring, and is murdered by Smeagol." (RK, p. 368). Since it was explained in the Prologue that Stoors were one of the three branches of hobbits (FR, 12), it is clear that the compiler of this entry, evidently either Merry and/or Pippin's heirs (FR, 24-25), accepted this conclusion.

In "The Hunt for the Ring" (UT, Three, IV) it is told that Sauron concluded from his interrogation of Gollum that Bilbo must have been the same sort of creature (UT, 342) (indeed, Gandalf concluded the same thing from his talks with Bilbo (FR, 63)). The following passing reference shows that the author of "The Hunt for the Ring" accepts Gollum's hobbit origin: "Ultimately indomitable [Gollum] was, except by death, as Sauron guessed, both from his halfling nature, and from a cause which Sauron did not fully comprehend ..." (UT, 337).

Perhaps Gandalf's archaic diction contributed to the uncertainty. When a reader suggested that perhaps '(1) Smeagol's people were not "of hobbit-kind" as suggested by Gandalf', Tolkien dismissed the suggestion. He added:

With regard to (1) Gandalf certainly says at first 'I guess' (FR, 62); but that is in accordance with his character and wisdom. In more modern language he would have said 'I deduce', referring to matters that had not come under his direct observation, but on which he had formed a conclusion based on study. ...But he did not in fact doubt his conclusion: 'It is true all the same, etc.' (FR, 63). [Letters, 289-290 (#214)]
FR, 12, (Prologue), 24-25 (Prologue, "Note on the Shire Records"), 62-63 (I,2);
RK, Appendix B;
UT, 337 (Three, IV, i), 342 (Three, IV, ii);
Letters, 289-290 (#214).

Contributors: WDBL, Craig Presson
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Last modified: Tue Aug 22 12:30:14 1995