The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
Born c. IV 35 (1456 by the Shire-reckoning)1
Race
Culture
Born in the Shire, but removed to the Westmarch as a young child
Family
Open to question; see the text of this entry
Settlements
Presumably lived at Undertowers, at least during her youth
Pronunciation
fee'riel
Meaning
'Mortal woman'2

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About this entry:

  • Updated 8 January 2014
  • This entry is complete

Fíriel

A granddaughter of Samwise Gamgee

Encyclopedia of Arda Timeline
Years of the Trees First Age Second Age Third Age Fourth Age and Beyond
Fastred of
Greenholm

Elanor
Gamgee

Elfstan
Fairbairn

Fíriel
At least one
other sister

Fíriel was a High-elven name used by the Dúnedain, most famously as the name of Gondorian princess who wedded Arvedui of Arthedain, and apparently ultimately a reference to Lúthien (the name means 'mortal maid'). At some point, the name was woven into a popular rhyme, The Last Ship3 which became known in the Shire. From that source, it was chosen by Sam Gamgee's daughter Elanor and her husband Fastred for one of their daughters.

Fíriel's surname is uncertain. Following Hobbit tradition, she would have taken the name of her father, so she would probably have been known as 'Fíriel of Greenholm' (or just 'Fíriel Greenholm'). However, her brother Elfstan founded the Fairbairn clan, so it's conceivable that, as a member of the same family, Fíriel acquired the name 'Fíriel Fairbairn'.


Notes

1

We don't have definite dates for Fíriel; the date of IV 35 shown here is an approximation based on the fact that her brother Elfstan was known to have been born in IV 33.

2

Historically, Fíriel was the daughter of Ondoher who became the last queen of Arthedain, and thus of course belonged to the race of mortal Men. The name found its way into a popular rhyme in the Shire, The Last Ship, and it is suggested (in the introduction to The Adventures of Tom Bombadil) that Fíriel of Greenholm gained her name from this rhyme.

3

Included in the collection The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. There are hints in the poem that the Fíriel it describes was none other than Lúthien herself (for instance, it describes Fíriel dwelling by the Seven Rivers, just as Lúthien did). While its words are resonant with Lúthien's situation (she is tempted to sail into the West by the Elves, and refuses) it doesn't seem to match established versions of her story in any detail. If this Fíriel originated as Lúthien, then we must imagine that her tale shifted and changed as it was passed down through the generations.

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