Earlier this year I got asked to provide a quote for Friends of the Earth about the significance of The Hobbit to the environmental movement, following an enquiry by the Readers' Digest. i didn't think it got used, but apparently so!
I'm recycling it here to mark the release of the first Hobbit film.
While The Hobbit lacks the anti-industrial overtones of parts of The Lord of the Rings, what shines through in the travels of Bilbo, Gandalf and the dwarves is Tolkien’s affinity with the British landscape.
His world is full of creatures that cherish nature – from the Hobbits’ enjoyment of the Shire and the elves’ connection to their woodland home, to Bilbo’s adventures through awe-inspiring landscapes.
If The Hobbit is about one thing, you could argue that it’s about ordinary people like hobbits rising to protect a way of living in harmony with nature – small wonder that Tolkien struck a chord amid the ‘back to the land’ sentiments of the 1960’s and 1970’s, that saw the birth of the environmental movement.
Books like The Hobbit certainly played their part in inspiring me to take environmental action – it’s everyday heroism like Bilbo’s that we encounter in people finding their voice for the first time by supporting wind-farms or opposing airport expansion.