The Encyclopedia of Arda - an interactive guide to the world of J.R.R. Tolkien


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  • Updated 17 March 2008
  • Updates planned: 2

Malva Headstrong

A matriarch of the Brandybuck family

An important Hobbit in the history of the Brandybuck family. She wedded Gormadoc Brandybuck about two hundred and fifty years before the War of the Ring, and was the ancestor of all the subsequent Masters of the Hall, including Meriadoc. Frodo Baggins could also count Malva among his ancestors, through his mother Primula Brandybuck, who was Malva's great-great-granddaughter.

Like many female Hobbits, Malva's name comes from a flower: in this case a hairy-leafed plant with flowers of purplish pink or white, better known as a mallow. In Old English, her name would have been Mealwe, and it seems that Tolkien preferred the Latin form of the same name, Malva, as being closer to a natural English rendering.

This use of Latin in a Hobbit name is unusual, and seems to be a remnant of an earlier version of the Brandybuck family tree. As their genealogy was originally devised, the important Brandybucks were given Latin surnames (for example, Meriadoc was Porphyrogenitus - 'noble-born' - while his father was titled Dives - 'rich'). These Latin names were mostly abandoned, but it seems that Malva was one of a very few that survived into The Lord of the Rings. The other main surviving example is Malva's granddaughter Salvia, who has another Latin flower name.

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