The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien
Dates
III 2918 - spring III 3020 (1318 - 1420 by the Shire-reckoning, lived 102 years)
Race
Culture
Family
Born a Bracegirdle; married into the Sackville-Baggins family
Settlements
Originally from Hardbottle in the Northfarthing, but lived in Hobbiton for much of her life
Meaning
A lobelia is type of flower1

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  • Updated 22 May 2009
  • This entry is complete
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The daughter of Blanco Bracegirdle and Primrose Boffin, Lobelia was born in the year III 2918 (or 1318 by the Shire-reckoning), making her some twenty-eight years younger than Bilbo Baggins. She married Otho Sackville-Baggins, a cousin of Bilbo's and his natural heir, and she seems to have shared her husband's keen desire to inherit Bag End. She seems never to have been without an umbrella, for which she found various uncoventional uses (she used it as a hiding place for valuables, and in one extreme case as a weapon).

In III 2941, it seemed that Otho's inheritance was at hand when Bilbo disappeared from the Shire. The following year, he was presumed legally dead, and Lobelia and Otho were preparing to move into Bag End when Bilbo reappeared as suddenly as he had vanished. So Lobelia's plans were thwarted for a time, and she was forced to settle for a looted collection of Bilbo's silver spoons.

As time went on, the hopes of Lobelia and Otho seemed destined to be dashed. Bilbo showed little sign of aging (due to the Magic Ring that he had acquired during his adventures, though of course Lobelia knew nothing of that). In III 2989, Bilbo adopted his cousin Frodo as his legal heir, thus putting an end to any hope that Lobelia and Otho would inherit Bag End.

At the famous Birthday Party of III 3001, Lobelia was present to see Bilbo disappear once again. Bag End passed on to Frodo, who lived there for the next seventeen years. At last, in the year III 3018, Frodo announced that he was leaving Hobbiton and moving to Crickhollow in Buckland. By this time Otho was dead, but Lobelia was finally able to buy Bag End at the age of exactly one hundred.

Despite waiting for decades to acquire Bag End, Lobelia did not live there for long. Her son Lotho had built up sufficient wealth and influence to make a bid for control of the Shire, and setting himself up as Chief Shirriff he deposed the Mayor of Michel Delving and took over the running of the affairs of the Shire from Bag End. Soon Lotho's power was itself usurped by a stranger from the south known as Sharkey, and it was later discovered that Lotho himself was murdered by Sharkey's henchman Gríma. After Lobelia tried to stop Sharkey's Men from building at her home, she was bundled off to Michel Delving and imprisoned there.

After the Shire was roused against Sharkey by the returning Travellers, Lobelia was rescued from the Lockholes, still holding on to her umbrella. Dispirited by the death of her son, she had no desire to live any longer in Bag End. Returning it to Frodo, she removed to Hardbottle in the Northfarthing, the home of her family the Bracegirdles. She died there the following year.


Notes

1

Lobelia's actual name among the Hobbits is recorded as Hamanullas, which was taken from the name of an unidentified small blue flower. Tolkien's anglicisation is based on the similarity of the lobelia to this description, though he may also have been influenced by Victorian flower symbolism, which equated the lobelia with malice and spite.

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