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


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Welcome to The Encyclopedia of Arda

The Encyclopedia of Arda is a personal project - a tribute to and a celebration of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. The site is evolving into an illustrated hypertext encyclopedia of Tolkien's realms and peoples. It already contains about four thousand entries, and we're constantly adding new entries and expanding existing ones.

Inside the encyclopedia

The Encyclopedia of Arda contains thousands of articles covering topics from J.R.R. Tolkien's world, some brief, some lengthy and some containing detailed essays and discussions.

You'll also find a selection of interactive tools, including a chronicle to help you explore Tolkien's fictional history, and calendar to translate dates and events, a lexicon of names, a glossary of old and rare words, and much more.

Context and approach

The content of the Encyclopedia is written in the same context as Tolkien himself used; he presented himself simply as a translator, rather than originator of the tales. Hence, we try to describe his world from a 'historical' rather than a literary perspective, though sometimes it's useful to explore ideas in their wider context. Where relevant, therefore, you'll also find a few references to Tolkien's life or opinions, or to real historical or mythological parallels to events in his universe.

About the name Arda

Arda was the name given by the Elves to their World and all it contained, and so 'Encyclopedia of Arda' seemed a peculiarly apt title for this project.

Special thanks

Thanks to all those who've e-mailed us over the years with their suggestions, corrections, ideas and just general support.

But the real Special Thanks, though, belong to the memory of J.R.R. Tolkien for his extraordinary and unparalleled creation.

For acknowledgements and references, see the Disclaimer & Bibliography page.

Original content © copyright Mark Fisher 1997-2021. All rights reserved. For conditions of reuse, see the Site FAQ.

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Featured Entry


Personal and family names of the Hobbits

The Hobbits of the Shire and Bree had developed their own system of names, most noticeably the use of family surnames which was an unusual custom in Middle-earth, and one that was only a few centuries old at the time of the War of the Ring. In some families the use of a formal surname went back only a few generations (so, for example, Sam Gamgee's grandfather Hobson was the first of his family to use the name 'Gamgee', and then only as a nickname).

It is important to note that, for the most part, the familiar names of Hobbits from Tolkien's works would not have been recognised by those Hobbits themselves: as part of his 'translation' Tolkien adapted many of the original names (which have a rather alien feel to a modern reader) into more familiar forms. So, for example, Banazîr Galpsi was the true name of 'Samwise Gamgee', while Kalimac Brandagamba became 'Meriadoc Brandybuck' and so on.

The Encyclopedia of Arda
The Encyclopedia of Arda