Tudor, Elizabethan and Jacobean Connections

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Part II – Match me a Bilbo in London

Much beloved, and for many their all-time favorite character, is the remarkable Bilbo Baggins. In speech, personality and mannerisms, Tolkien’s endearing invention initially comes across as the quintessential polite, mind your own business, English gentleman – not quite aristocratic, but certainly prosperous and respectable. Yet there is one obvious part to his composition that is very un-English. And that of course is his first name. Where in the world did Tolkien come up with it? Exactly what or who was the source of his inspiration?

Though a variety of possibilities have been proposed, none are entirely convincing. Not enough to say ‘case closed’. And who knows perhaps the Professor intentionally made it difficult for us? In which case, badly needed is a fresh injection of ideas. Perhaps overdue is a paradigm shift because there’s a very good chance the searches to date have all been executed in the wrong place.

Before we get too deep into our pursuit, we must first take a long hard look at what Tolkien himself said about naming. In The Peoples of Middle-earth he commented that ‘Bilbo’ was in a grouping of several other hobbit names which:

“… had no ‘meaning’ or derivation or connexion with books or legends: …”.
– The Peoples of Middle-earth, The Appendix on Languages

However a caveat was imposed. He conveyed the limitation applied only to names Hobbits gave each other. In other words these were matters ‘internal’ to the tale. What I am most interested in is the inspirational trigger ‘external’ to the tale. Despite the statement below being directed at The Lord of the Rings, there is every reason to believe an external based naming process (Item (2) below) was established practice – even in the days of writing The Hobbit:

“The etymology of words and names in my story has two sides: (1) their etymology within the story; and (2) the sources from which I, as an author, derive them.”
– Letter to Gene Wolfe from Tolkien, November 1966

What else did Tolkien have to say about Mr. Baggins that is relevant to discovering a credible source? Perhaps most disconcerting is the very official reply given to the editor of The Observer newspaper. When questioned on the ‘invented’ name for the furry-footed creatures he’d called ‘Hobbits’ and when asked to tell more about Bilbo Baggins, he offered up something quite surprising:

“… I do not remember anything about the name and inception of the hero.”
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #25

In taking this at face value many scholars have simply opted to give up. Tolkien’s statement is very factual. He advised us not to bother and look:

“I could guess, of course, but the guesses would have no more authority than those of future researchers, and I leave the game to them.”
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #25

According to his declaration – there is no answer; readers postulations might be as good as his. So in other words with ‘Bilbo’ and ‘Baggins’ – further investigation is pointless. Then we should ask – why should it be a “game”?


Image result for bilbo baggins bag end

Illustration by J.R.R. Tolkien depicting Bilbo


So if we are to believe Tolkien we are faced with the prospect of ‘Bilbo’ possessing no etymological origin. At least not one known to Tolkien or thoughtfully constructed by him. This would then be a case unlike ‘Smaug’ whom the Professor derived from:

“… the past tense of the primitive Germanic verb Smugan, to squeeze through a hole: – a low philological jest.”
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #25   (italicized emphasis on Smugan)

Hmm … this is kind of odd – ‘Smaug’ had a source but not ‘Bilbo’? Upon further pondering and critical examination we have to take a deep breath and shake our heads. From all we know about Tolkien would he have really just come up with ‘Bilbo Baggins’ without considerable thought. Are we truly expected to believe the very hero of our tale had his names picked randomly? Could this really just be a case of the Professor phonetically liking the combination of two funny sounding words?

The scholar John Rateliff has suggested:

“ ‘Bilbo’ is both a short, simple made-up name appropriate for the hero of a children’s book … Bilbo is almost certainly Tolkien’s own coinage.”
– The History of The Hobbit, The Name ‘Bilbo’, John Rateliff

However though this sounds plausible Tolkien’s explicit newspaper denial is one rare occasion where we must question his veracity and re-examine the issue. Because we know in directly contradicting The Observer assertion he much later provided an ‘external’ origination. Part of ‘Baggins’ was:

“Intended to recall ‘bag’ and meant to be associated (by hobbits) with Bag End … (It was the local name for my aunt’s farm in Worcestershire, which was at the end of a lane leading to it and no further).”
– Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien


.Image result for jane neave's farm bag-end morton

Jane Neave’s Farmhouse, ‘Bag End’, Dormston, Worcestershire


The Professor can’t have it both ways. And it is highly doubtful that a temporary lapse of memory occurred while writing his ‘no knowledge’ disclaimer. Which is why one can rightfully dig deeper. And so upon further reflection left open is the possibility of ‘Bilbo’ still having a structured basis rooted in a philological sense to England. Equally – Tolkien might have plucked the name from elsewhere!

In stepping back and looking at the big picture, there is no doubt that the 1937 release of his new fairy tale to the public at large put Tolkien under considerable pressure. Greatly desired was the book to be a hit. Thus an unexpected attack questioning the originality of his core ‘Hobbit’ invention must have been hugely disappointing. He might have been flustered to the point of volunteering material which was not quite truthful. But only I suspect to quash any further inquiries – especially by academics. In my view this is highly understandable. After all, his professional reputation could have been tarnished – and as you will see, present were problematic things he’d rather not disclose.

Now the forename ‘Bilbo’ is an extremely rare one as far as its appearance in the English speaking world. Tom Shippey has discovered a hillin Herefordshire called ‘Great Bilbo’ – though its naming origin remains a mystery. Mark Hooker in The Hobbitonian Anthology has investigated, what I deem as unlikely, links to the French Monsieur Bilboquet. More convincing is a connection to the cup and ball game known as bilbo-catch which historically may have had its origin in a ‘ring’ and ‘finger’ toy – which again has a French connection. The trouble with all of this is that Tolkien appears not to have been overly fond of his Gallic neighbors, and Bilbo’s relations (with their frenchified double-barreled surnames) were not exactly portrayed as a pleasant lot. Nevertheless the theory has considerable merit. Certainly it is one of the two best explanations currently out there. The other being that ‘Bilbo’ was derived from the Spanish sword known as a ‘bilboe’ – thus aptly tying the hero to Sting acquired from the trolls’ lair.

In my view, both proposals have a fundamental flaw for the reason the hero’s naming would then result from an ill-fitting chronological sequence. Per the tale the name ‘Bilbo’ came before the incidents of acquiring the sword or the ring slipping on finger event, not after the fact. A point that Tolkien would have been aware of and thus, I feel, he would have dismissed such propositions.

No – in my opinion the name ‘Bilbo’ must have been originally sourced ‘external’ to The Hobbit and not be related to events within the tale itself. Something in our real world must have triggered ‘Bilbo’ – a bit like the ‘Bag’ of Baggins and likewise ‘Sackville’:

“Sackville is an English name (of more aristocraticassociation than Baggins).”
– Guide to the Names in The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien

Whether the name stemmed from a submerged:

“… ‘leaf-mould’ of memories …”,
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #324

or whether there was another factor – I will leave it to the reader to judge. But if we could come up with a reasonably solid idea and the actual name of a character called ‘Bilbo’ elsewhere in the English-speaking world, and if simultaneously we could come up with some decent connectivity to parts of The Hobbit – then surely it would leapfrog pre-existing theories and jump to the front of the queue. Because we know that Tolkien had indeed set a precedent. By plucking the names of the dwarves (and starring wizard) out of ancient Norse texts – the Professor has used external sources from our real world.

“… the names of the Dwarves in The Hobbit (and additions in the L.R.) are derived from the lists in Völuspá of the names of dvergar; …”.
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #297


Image result for dwarf list poetic edda

Dwarf List: ‘Völuspá’ (not all versions have the same spelling)


There is then no real reason why we should discount a similar process of ‘plucking’ being used as the basis to arrive at ‘Bilbo’. But from where? If not from books – then maybe from something closely related?

Perhaps the faintest of clues exist in the oft-told story of how one day while marking School Certificate examination papers Tolkien came up with the sentence:

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
– The Hobbit, An Unexpected Party

Sure, all the attention has been focused on the momentous occasion of creating the word ‘hobbit’, but nevertheless since ‘Bilbo’ follows not long after the first written sentence – maybe the tale was beginning to brew in Tolkien’s head. Even though he freely admitted that after writing the first line:

“I did nothing about it, for a long time, …”,
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #163

that’s not sufficient to discount other strands to the initial storyline having formed very early on.

It is at this point we need to employ some conjecture. It might seem a stretch for some – but at least there is some logic involved. One might ask oneself what examination papers were they? Could they have had an effect on Tolkien’s thoughts as his bored mind wandered? Did the idea behind the first line extend well beyond it, and did the examination papers influence that?

It is recorded since his days at Leeds University the marking of school papers became:

“… an annual chore which he will undertake for many years …”.
– The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, Chronology – Summer 1922, Hammond and Scull

Details of what he actually marked are scant. There is a good possibility that the test paper at the moment of inspiration was of English Literature – and the subject was Shakespearian in nature (or writings of that era). One rare recording tells us he:

“… read two hundred answers on ‘Caesar’s ghost’, …”.
– The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, Chronology – 22 July 1925, Hammond and Scull

No wonder his mind was apt to wander!

Now Tolkien’s accumulated English historical knowledge is known to be very much centered on a period of English history prior to the 1400’s. From the Anglo-Saxons to Middle-english and the age of Chaucer, the Professor’s expert acquaintance is undeniable. Yet less well-known is the likelihood of a vast array of stored information concerning the late Elizabethan and Jacobean eras: the so-called ‘Golden Age’. Oh most certainly Tolkien knew his Shakespeare:

“I went to King Edward’s School and spent most of my time learning Latin and Greek; but I also learned English. Not English Literature! Except Shakespeare …”.
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #163


Image result for king edward school tolkien

King Edward’s School, Birmingham – Probably pre-1930


Yet we also know that he graduated in 1915 from Exeter College at Oxford University with a First-class honours degree in English Language and Literature. Rateliff is probably correct in factually remarking Tolkien:

“… was of course familiar with the full range of English literature up to about 1830 …”.
– The History of The Hobbit, Addendum: The Seventh Phase, John Rateliff

And that gels. Because I would argue that one does not become a Professor of English Language and Literature at Merton without a broader base of familiarity and understanding. For when it comes to literature there was far more to the English Renaissance era than works produced by the Bard of Avon. So just maybe in this particular corner of Tolkien’s reading arena, something triggered an intriguing naming. Perhaps something has been missed by all scholars to date? And the reason why this particular period is so worth investigating, is the inclusion of indisputable Elizabethan/Jacobean vocabulary in Songs for the Philologists; a time period of creativity not that far removed from writing that first famous Hobbit sentence. Adding to this is my contention that the three trolls of The Hobbit were sourced from the same historical era. Thus we have a legitimate line of inquiry. One that we cannot easily discard or tar as absurd.

So we are finally approaching the revelation I’ve been trying to get to all along. That paradigm shift I spoke about earlier now needs to be played out. Needed to be investigated is what many may deem unlikely – a potential adoption of ‘Bilbo’ that has something to do with Elizabethan and Jacobean England. With that thought I must harp back to Shakespeare and his plays.

Foregoing discussion on Tolkien’s recorded dislike of the Bard, I much prefer to balance that out by focusing on the philological side of the equation. Having worked for the forerunner of the Oxford English Dictionary, I’m certain Tolkien would have known that Shakespeare was the inventor (or most likely the first documented user) of more ‘new’ words than any other historical figure as well as its single most quoted person:

“The works of Shakespeare (1564–1616) are more widely quoted in OED than those of any other author …”.
– OED website, Shakespeare in the OED

And the source of these ‘new’ words were of course a set of voluminous plays. Indeed on that basis the Elizabethan/Jacobean time periods were equally rich with dramas from other famed playwrights – where once again many ‘new’ words arose to find their way into our lexicon. These matters should have been dominant in Tolkien’s thoughts. Especially as the Professor said:

“I like history, and am moved by it, but its finest moments for me are those in which it throws light on words and names!”
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #205

One can only conclude that as a professional philologist Tolkien had no choice but to actively engage in specialist study. Fortunately both Leeds Universityand the Bodleianat Oxford housed acclaimed collections of many of the earliest surviving works from these eras. Wouldn’t you have thought there’s a good chance the Professor took advantage of the facilities?


.Image result for shakespeare first folio bodleian

William Shakespeare’s First Folio, Bodleian Library, Oxford


Unfortunately the written evidence of Tolkien studying playwrights other than Shakespeare is rather sparse. The most obvious allusion is to Thomas Nashe (per Have with You to Saffron-Walden) in his English and Welsh essay where mentioned is a variant of the more modernistic giant refrain: ‘fe-fi-fo-fum’. But there is one other occasion that a truly remarkable statement was made:

“Adults are allowed to study anything: even old theatre-programmes, …”.
– Tolkien On Fairy-stories, Manuscript B, Flieger and Anderson

Hmm … ‘theatre-programmes’. Not quite ‘books’!

From this ever so revealing sentence, the implication is that Tolkien indeed took some time out to pursue such an interest. Otherwise why mention a relatively obscure branch of literature? Don’t you get the feeling that Tolkien the philologist, who was always interested in ‘roots’, might well have looked at some of the earliest English examples?

As I have already discussed in What a Colorful Pair!, Part IV, I believe Tolkien was well aware of the famous Cony-catching play pamphlets printed for Robert Greene’s plays. Also I believe that there was one other which attracted his attention. A theatre-programme that caught his eye because of a dragon-like5 frontispiece to the quarto:

“I find ‘dragons’ a fascinating product of imagination.”
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #122

“I desired dragons with a profound desire.”
– Essay On Fairy-stories, J.R.R. Tolkien, 1939

And that drawing was for a Jacobean play written by Thomas Dekker6 titled: Match me in London7!


Quarto of Dekker’s ‘Match me in London’, 1631


Dragon pictures are a rarity among the many play pamphlets that have survived from the English renaissance era. Indeed I can find only one other8. But it is not just the ‘fire-drake’ mentioned in the play who draws interest, it is the character called ‘Bilbo’ who speaks of it:

“BILBO: Another fire-drake!”
– Match me in London, Act 1 – Scene 2, Play by Thomas Dekker

How intriguing! How alluring a connection!

Now featured right at the beginning of Act I, Bilbo is cast as a high-ranking servant of a Spanish nobleman. As one of the two opening actors, Bilbo’s first words are also strikingly evocative:

“BILBO: Thieves, thieves, thieves, …”.
– Match me in London, Act 1 – Scene 1, Play by Thomas Dekker

In this case they resound with Gollum’s famous cry – originally drafted as:

“Thief, thief, thief!”
– The History of The Hobbit, The 1947 Hobbit, John Rateliff

Clearly we already have accumulated three strong tangencies – but there are also several more!

Match me in London is a play set around fictional Spanish nobility. I will not summarize it for that would extend this essay considerably. In any case there are many freely available sources which do an admirable job. Instead I shall bring to attention some other likenesses in comparing matters in the play against The Hobbit.

Bilbo himself is a shrewd and generally faithful servant9. In a way he is not too unlike Mr. Baggins. With his master Malevento (a wise fatherly Gandalf-type figure) he sets out on a quest to track down a missing Tormiella – the nobleman’s ‘jewel’ of a daughter. She has been in the unwanted clutches of the ‘fire-drake’ Gazetto but elopes with her true love: Cordolente. The ‘diamond’ is seemingly lost yet at the close ends up in the hands of the rightful ‘owner’ – a parodying echo of the fate of Thorin in the triangle with Smaug and the Arkenstone (or its forerunner, the Gem of Girion).

Bilbo, the bachelor, parts ways with his master and follows Cordolente (‘Thorin’) and is not reunited with Malevento until much travel has occurred towards the latter setting of the play. Adding to the pursuit of the beautiful ‘gem’ is the King of Spain who also fails in his lustful attempt to woo Tormiella – in a way echoing Thranduil as one of multiple parties seeking to claim a great treasure.

“KING: How shall I get a sight of this rich diamond?”
– Match me in London, Act 1 – Scene 4, Play by Thomas Dekker

Within the play there are mentions of Bilbo opening a door on a fateful day and a cloak of invisibility – not too far removed from Bilbo in The Hobbit finding the hidden Lonely Mountain door and his acquiring a ring of invisibility.

“BILBO: I’ll beat down the door and put him in mind of a … fatal day for doors to be broken open.”
– Match me in London, Act 1 – Scene 1, Play by Thomas Dekker

“BILBO: Unless he wore the invisible cloak.”
– Match me in London, Act 2 – Scene 1, Play by Thomas Dekker

Interestingly it is Bilbo in Dekker’s play who cries out:

“BILBO: … You do me wrong, sir. Though I go in breeches, I am not the roaring girl you take me for.”
– Match me in London, Act 1 – Scene 2, Play by Thomas Dekker

Again a tangency hinting back at our Bilbo (who by the way also wears breeches) not really being a thief. When asked by Malevento: “What thief seest thou?”, the paradoxical quip back is:

“BILBO: … That ill-favor’d thief, in your candle. None else, not I.”
– Match me in London, Act 1 – Scene 1, Play by Thomas Dekker

In any case “the roaring girl” alludes to another Dekker play based on a famous Elizabethan female thief named Molly Frith (aka Moll Cutpurse) who dressed in male attire.


Image result for thomas dekker match me in london play pamphlet

Frontispiece Quarto of Dekker & Middleton’s,’The Roaring Girl’, 1611


All of this repertoire, which I am suggesting Tolkien engaged in perusing, may have triggered memories of his own household being robbed in Leeds by a dishonest maid and her unsavory cohorts:

“The Tolkien house is ransacked by burglars. … The family discover that their new maid … is a member of a gang of thieves.”
– The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, Chronology – Late November-early December 1923, Hammond and Scull

Getting back to the play, when it comes to the plot, we are told that Bilbo is in danger as the ‘fire-drake’ approaches:

“TORMIELLA: You dally with fire, haste, haste, … ”.
– Match me in London, Act 1 – Scene 2, Play by Thomas Dekker

Prior to this Dekker had Bilbo lightheartedly (yet ominously) describe Gazetto’s abode as one of:

“BILBO: … everlasting Thunder, …”.
– Match me in London, Act 1 – Scene 2, Play by Thomas Dekker

As soon as the ‘dragon’ Gazetto finds out the ‘treasure’ has gone we are told (in an echo of Smaug’s exhibited rage in leaving his bed and chasing after Bilbo):

“BILBO: Signior Gazetto is horne-mad, and leapt out of his Bed, … so that I think he comes running stark naked after me.”
– Match me in London, Act 1 – Scene 2, Play by Thomas Dekker

Remarkably in this foreign setting, the cause behind the lost treasure is thievery involving not a Spaniard but:

BILBO: Tis some Englishman has stol’n her, …” !
– Match me in London, Act 1 – Scene 2, Play by Thomas Dekker

The ‘dragon’ though, has to patiently wait for revenge:

“GAZETTO: Till then my vengeance sleepes, …”. 
– Match me in London, Act 5 – Scene 2, Play by Thomas Dekker

Other notable similarities in Dekker’s drama reminiscent of various points and scenes in The Hobbit include the seeking of Tormiella in the dark, Bilbo’s trotting and aching heels, a mention of ‘woolly feet’, unstable empty barrels in rough waters, and a single destiny changing arrow:

“BILBO: … I cannot see my young mistress …  … ’tis so dark.”
– Match me in London, Act 1 – Scene 1, Play by Thomas Dekker

“BILBO: … my heels ache with trotting, …”.
– Match me in London, Act 1 – Scene 2, Play by Thomas Dekker

“GAZETTO: … Thanks, vengeance; thou as last art come, Though with wooly feet, …”.
– Match me in London, Act 2 – Scene 1, Play by Thomas Dekker

“KING: … give this tumbling whale Empty barrels to play with till this troublous seas, …”.
– Match me in London, Act 5 – Scene 1, Play by Thomas Dekker

“KING: … Th’ast but one arrow to shoote, and that’s thy flight,”.
– Match me in London, Act 5 – Scene 1, Play by Thomas Dekker

As to the later part of the plot, Bilbo becomes a shopkeeper10 in keeping close to Tormiella (the ‘gem’) and Cordolente (‘Thorin’). Visited by his old master Malevento (‘Gandalf’), Cordolente is told to look after Bilbo:

“MALEVENTO: Oh, pray son, use Bilbo Caveare11 well.”
– Match me in London, Act 4 – Scene 2, Play by Thomas Dekker

However it is Bilbo that allows the ‘gem’ to be taken away to the King by Lady Dildoman. Seemingly lost, Cordolente then argues with the King (‘Thranduil’) to have her returned. Right at the end of the play, the King relinquishes his claim and allows the ‘diamond’ back into the hands of Cordolente where she rightfully belongs. So once again we see many plot parallels with The Hobbit. Surely this is beyond coincidence!

How far Tolkien went with his clever plan – I cannot say. Was Dildoman meant to represent Bard – Thranduil’s ‘stooge’? Was evil Prince John in failing to usurp the King meant to lampoon Bolg in his failed attempt to seize a kingdom? Perhaps that’s carrying things a bit too far. But one thing is for sure and that is Dekker’s play has that implausible fairy tale ending where all the good folk live ‘happily ever after’!

All of these noted tangencies feed the fire of parody to a ‘roaring’ crescendo. It’s hard not to believe Tolkien began The Hobbit with subtle parodying intent. Certainly he admitted:

“Mr Baggins began as a comic tale …”.
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #19

It is interesting to note that even his children parodied two of the main characters of The Hobbit well before the book was published and perhaps when it was only partly written down. Michael Tolkien recollects in early readings parodied names such as:

“… Scandalf the wizard and Throw-in the head dwarf …”.
– The History of The Hobbit, Chronology of Composition, John Rateliff

Moreover Tolkien was not shy of using parody himself:

“ ‘The King of the Green Dozen’ is the story of the King of Iwerddon … The Story, which is set in Wales, parodies the ‘high’ style of narrative.”
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Notes to Letter #33   (my underlined emphasis)

“The toponymy of The Shire … is a ‘parody‘ of that of rural England, …”.
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #190   (my underlined emphasis)

“I had the remarkable, and in the event extremely enjoyable, experience in Holland. … The dinner … speeches were interleaved between the courses. … My final reply was I hope adequate, … It was partly a parody of Bilbo’s speech in Chapter I.”.
– The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter #206   (my underlined emphasis)

Professor Tolkien definitely possessed a humorous side – and now perhaps his most intimate secrets are being revealed. In comparing Match me in London against The Hobbit it would be too much to expect everything to line-up scene for scene or character for character. For indeed there is much latitude available with this kind of literary technique. Nonetheless surely the true origin of Tolkien’s very special fairy tale lies in a Jacobean play. Surely at the very least – an initial skeleton plot came from the Jacobean drama12. For its hard to deny aspects of Dekker’s tragi-comedy13, as it is known, appear to be richly reflected in the tragic and comedic story of The Hobbit!

Yet despite some scintillating evidence, the reader would be right to skeptically pose the questions:

‘Why select such a Spanish sounding name’?
‘Why choose a fictional play set in Spain’?

I agree – this all seems – so not English. Though as a counter, we must remember that the Match me in London title begs an English parallel to the Spanish setting – and Tolkien seems to have taken up the challenge. Yet for those who want more evidence, we shall see in my next essay a very good reason why ‘Bilbo’ was so befitting!


For the next article in the series click below

Part III



1  See The Road to Middle-earth, The Bourgeois Burglar.

2  One might reasonably presume that Tolkien was aware of at least one (and probably more) of the aristocrats in England who had historically possessed ‘Sackville’ as a surname.

3  Housed today inSpecial Collections’ and The Brotherton Gallery.

4  Many housed today in the Weston Library.

5  The creature depicted is possibly a gryphon – but it is certainly dragonesque enough to arouse curiosity.

6  Extract from The British Library Web-site: The Bellman of London, 1608

“Thomas Dekker (c. 1572–1632) was an English dramatist and pamphleteer. In 1608 he published his most popular tract, The Belman of London, one of a series of ‘cony-catching’ pamphlets that Dekker wrote to expose the various scams and deceptions of contemporary criminals and confidence tricksters.”

Note the commonality of Dekker’s ‘cony-catching’ pamphlets with those of Robert Greene (see What a Colorful Pair!, Part IV).

7  All quotes are translated from Elizabethan English to a more modern form of English for ease of understanding.

The quote & print source used in this analysis is per The University of Michigan Library (quod.lib.umich.edu):

“A tragi-comedy: called, Match mee in London As it hath beene often presented; first, at the Bull in St. Iohns-street; and lately, at the Priuate-House in Drury-Lane, called the Phœnix Written by Tho: Dekker.
Dekker, Thomas, ca. 1572-1632.”
London: Printed by B. Alsop and T. Favvcet, for H. Seile, at the Tygers-head in St. Pauls Church-yard, 1631.

8  A quarto for Shakespeare’s: The Tragic History of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, dated 1605 and printed by I.R. for N.L.

9  Definitely the junior member of the expedition at outset, Bilbo is nonetheless not a ‘servant’. The view of others in the tale is less forgiving. Bilbo is referred to as:

“… that queer little creature that is said to be their servant.”
– The Hobbit, A Thief in the Night

10  A faint connection of Gloin likening Bilbo to a ‘grocer’ at outset.

11  ‘Caveare’ was Elizabethan spelling for ‘caviar’ – regarded as a ‘bourgeois’ dish in those times – as it is now.

12  Nor can we discount Tolkien going back to Dekker’s play for inspiration – even after The Hobbit was first published.

13  Courtesy of Literary Devices.net:

“Tragicomedy is a literary device used in fictional works. It contains both tragedy and comedy. Mostly, the characters in tragicomedy are exaggerated and sometimes there might be a happy ending after a series of unfortunate events.”


4/15/2018   Was: “towards the latter part of the play.”, Is:“towards the latter setting of the play.”

Was: “BILBO: Thieves, thieves, thieves!”, Is: “BILBO: Thieves, thieves, thieves, …”.

Was: “And then to round things off it is Gazetto (the ‘dragon’) who seeks revenge for his lost treasure (Tormiella) while we are told by:

“BILBO: Tis some Englishman has stol’n her, …” !
– Match me in London, Act 1 – Scene 2, Play by Thomas Dekker

Is: “Getting back to the play, when it comes to the plot … added through to: 

“Gazetto: Till then my vengeance sleepes, …”. 
– Match me in London, Act 1 – Scene 2, Play by Thomas Dekker

4/16/18   Reordered following paragraph and subsequent associated quotes: “Other notable similarities in Dekker’s drama reminiscent of various points and scenes in The Hobbit include the mention of ‘woolly feet’, unstable empty barrels in rough waters, a single destiny changing arrow, Bilbo’s trotting and aching heels, and his seeking of Tormiella in the dark:”.

Added from: “As to the later part of the plot. …” to “… beyond coincidence!”

Was: The Master of Laketown”, Is: “Bard”.

Added new notes 10 and 11. Reordered later ones.