Hobbits Have a Kentucky Connection

Apparently, J. R. R. Tolkien was somewhat taken with the Bluegrass, as Alan Cornett of Pinstripe Pulpit reveals:

But it was a chance encounter [Tolkien scholar Guy] Davenport had in Shelbyville, Kentucky with a former classmate of Tolkien—a history teacher named Allen Barnett—that changed Davenport’s perspective about his former professor’s clever tales. To Davenport’s amazement, Barnett had no idea that Tolkien had turned into a writer, and had never read any of the adventures of Middle Earth.

“Imagine that! You know, he used to have the most extraordinary interest in the people here in Kentucky. He could never get enough of my tales of Kentucky folk. He used to make me repeat family names like Barefoot and Boffin and Baggins and good country names like that,” Barnett told Davenport.

“And out the window I could see tobacco barns,” Davenport writes. “The charming anachronism of the Hobbits’ pipes suddenly made sense in a new way….Practically all the names of Tolkien’s hobbits are listed in my Lexington phonebook, and those that aren’t can be found over in Shelbyville. Like as not, they grow and cure pipe-weed for a living.”

Pretty cool.

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