Tom Bombadil's Dominion

A Good Reason for the Appearance of Tolkien's Obvious Misfit

The most controversial character in The Lord of the Rings has got to be Tom Bombadil. He doesn't seem to fit anywhere—not in Peter Jackson's film adaption, not in Tolkien's vast backstory, and some even say, not in the plot of the book. Yet, there he is, with his ridiculous blue jacket and yellow boots, living in the Old Forest between the Shire and Bree.

By his own estimation he's the oldest living creature in Middle Earth. And significantly (in my estimation, anyway), he's actually older than The Lord of the Rings itself. Tolkien's poem The Adventures of Tom Bombadil appeared in The Oxford Magazine in 1934. That makes Tom even older than The Hobbit, which was published in 1937.

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C. R. Wiley is a member of the Academy of Philosophy and Letters and has written for numerous periodicals. He is the author of The Household and the War for the Cosmos (Canon Press, 2019) and Man of the House (Wipf and Stock, 2017), as well as short fiction and the first book in a young-adult fantasy series, The Purloined Boy, which was republished by Canon Press in 2017.


more on J. R. R. Tolkien from the online archives

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