In early III 2941, having decided that the natural stealth of a Hobbit would be needed for the Quest of Erebor that he was arranging, Gandalf settled on Bilbo Baggins of Hobbiton. The Wizard remembered Bilbo as an adventurous youth from decades earlier, but passing through Hobbiton he found Bag End deserted. He questioned the gardener, Holman Greenhand, who told him that Bilbo had gone wandering, looking for Elves. Thus encouraged, Gandalf decided that Bilbo would take the role of 'burglar' on his expedition.
As the month of April was coming to a close, Gandalf made another trip through Hobbiton and managed to find Bilbo at home. He arranged an Unexpected Party - unexpected, at least, by Bilbo - at which Thorin Oakenshield, King of Durin's Folk, and his twelve companions arrived unannounced at Bag End to recruit Bilbo for their perilous journey to Erebor in the far East. Bilbo was at first flustered and reluctant, but the following morning he left Bag End in a desperate hurry to join the Dwarves on their dangerous Quest.
Tolkien's corrections to the first edition of The Hobbit suggest a specific date for the Unexpected Party. In that earliest edition, Gandalf mentions at the party that Thorin's father Thráin disappeared on 'the third of March a hundred years ago last Thursday' (The Hobbit [first edition] 1, An Unexpected Party). As Tolkien himself points out, though, this does not match with the date being 'just before May' as stated in the following chapter. Later editions bring these dates into harmony by making Thráin disappear on 'the twenty-first of April, a hundred years ago last Thursday'. By Tolkien's own calculations this placed the Unexpected Party on the 27 April (though in the later Quest of Erebor he amended that date to the 26 April).
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