The Evolution and Incarnations of the Fellowship

Last time, we took a look at the Nine members of The Fellowship and the reasons why they were chosen. Though didn’t always make a whole lot of sense, we’ve come to know and love them in the roles they play. But it took Tolkien quite a bit of time and reconsideration to figure out just who would be going along for the journey. Actually, it took quite a long time to figure out that there would be a journey at all.

In the “First Phase” of his writing, Tolkien made it to Rivendell before doubling back and restarting. The second attempt made it only to Bombadil’s place. The “Third Phase,” however, is where things started to come together. The first real mention of anyone taking the One Ring to Mordor was in the Autumn of 1939 – nearly two years after he began to write. In that version, Bilbo offers to take it, but Folco [proto-Frodo] has already offered and been supported by Gandalf. At that point, Trotter [proto-Strider] turned out to be the hobbit Peregrin Boffin [there’s no real equal to him in the published version].

First Incarnationof the Fellowship
Gandalf, Trotter, Frodo, Sam, Merry, Folco, Odo, Glorfindel, and Frar
Tolkien continued on with the understanding that the One Ring would somehow get to Mordor with the character who would become Frodo. Also, that he would be joined by others, probably hobbits. It was during this time when Tolkien finally laid down the first concrete role call for the Fellowship.

From the start, Tolkien wished for the number to be nine, though you’ll notice an extra hobbit along for the ride. While Folco had been one of Frodo’s names, by the time he decided upon the first Fellowship, he had also settled on Frodo. Folco Took, in this case, is the missing Pippin, but then so is Odo Bolger.Of course, this was the same Odo who had a side-adventure with Gandalf in the early drafts. When Tolkien would combine Folco and Odo, he would lose that bit of the story.

The only other mystery is then Frar the Dwarf. Frar was probably supposed to be Balin’s son and arrived in Rivendell with Gloin. He would later be replaced by Burin, and then ultimately cut. The addition of Glorfindel to the Fellowship just makes sense, and it’s not incredibly surprising that Boromir was not included, though, curiously, he was at the Council of Elrond in this early draft.

Second Incarnation
Gandalf, Trotter, Frodo, Sam, Merry, Farmond, and Glorfindel
In this version, the number had been dropped from nine to seven. This doesn’t jive with the idea that the number of the Fellowship had to match the number of the Riders, but then, that idea didn’t yet exist, so Tolkien was not duty-bound to respect it.

In this version, Gandalf does the selecting:

“‘Taking care of hobbits is not a task that everyone would like,’ said Gandalf, ‘but I am used to it. I suggest Frodo and his Sam, Merry, Farmond, and myself. That is five. And Glorfindel, if he will come and lend us the wisdom of the Elves: we shall need it.’

‘And Trotter!’ said Peregrin form the corner. ‘That is seven, and a fitting number. The Ring-bearer will have good company.'”

Faramond is the combination of Folco Took and Odo Bolger. Peregrin is not Pippin (that would be Faramond), but a proto-Aragorn.

Incidentally, this was decided before the council had even ended.

The Third Incarnation
Gandalf, Aragorn (Trotter), Frodo, Sam, Legolas, Erestor, Boromir, and Gimli
These were merely outlines, however, and there was no real personality given to the Fellowship until about a year later. Over that time, he did much revision and writing of the backstories told in the Council of Elrond chapter. It was also during this time that he devised of the idea that there should be nine in the Fellowship to match the nine Black Riders.

Erestor was a half-elf and related to Elrond. He was from the family known as “the children of Luthien”. The rest we all know, though Legolas had more recently been named Galdor. Of course, you’ll notice the absence of Merry and Pippin (now actually named Merry and Pippin). Tolkien wasn’t yet sure what to do about them. Elrond, as in the published version, noted that they would be needed in the Shire, but Tolkien seemed willing to swap out Erestor for Pippin.

The more mathematically inclined will notice that even though Tolkien set up the idea that the number must be nine, there are only eight mentioned. This makes no sense at all, really. He fixed this almost immediately.

The Fourth Incarnation
Gandalf, Aragorn (Trotter), Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Legolas, Boromir, and Gimli
Here we are again, back at the familiar. And where Erestor had gone, Tolkien never said. Though this was the last time the Fellowship would change, Tolkien wasn’t quite through with name-switching. Trotter had become Peregrin, and then Aragorn, but would soon become Elfstone. Ultimately, he would much later become Strider.

Wandering On…
For me, the biggest question that I have is why not take Glorfindel? He appeared in the first and second incarnations, so why cut him? It would be such a fun idea to sort of collect the Fellowship as they went along. First Frodo and Sam, then Merry and Pippin, then Strider, then Glorfindel and Gandalf. It would be almost like it was destined to happen before the Council of Elrond. But Tolkien gives no clues as to why he decided to throw in Legolas.

 Camera: Agfa Clack Film: Kodak Ektachrome 64x (expired in mid90s)

Camera: Agfa Clack
Film: Kodak Ektachrome 64x (expired in mid90s)

A Few Notes

  • Frodo went through a ridiculous amount of name changes: Bingo Bolger, Bingo Bolger-Baggins, Faramond Baggins, Peregrin, Folco Baggins, and probably more than I’ve missed. Also, most of these names were used and reused for other characters, some of whom don’t exist in the published version.
  • Though Legolas had been named Galdor at first, it was not the same Galdor who appears in the published version. This Galdor was sent to the Council to represent the Elves of Mirkwood. He made no appearance in the Fellowship until after the name change.
  • This was also not the first time that Tolkien used the names Legolas and Galdor. There had been Legolas Greenleaf from the Fall of Gondolin story dating back to the Book of Lost Tales era (1910s and 1920s). In that, Legolas was of the House of the Tree, over which Galdor was lord. Though he used the same names, they were not the same characters.

About the Photo
Nothing says Evolution and Incarnation quite like yet another block of condos being raised in Seattle. It’s so rare that I take a photo of something new. Actually, I have no memory of taking this.


6 thoughts on “The Evolution and Incarnations of the Fellowship

  1. Ooooh, good stories take time to develop! The exclusion of Glorfindel was a question I’d always wondered, but it’d make the journey too much of a cakewalk to have his awesomeness involved, plus he’d steal Aragorn and Boromir’s manly hero thunder just by being, I reckon.

    (On a side note: thanks for liking my posts/blog and alerting me to your wonderful LotR notes… also, hope you’re getting well from whatever it was that’s suppose to keep you out of action for 3 weeks. Um… make that two notes)

  2. I’m actually working on a fanfic that explains part of what Glorfindel was doing and why he was not with the Company. Though, it’s not pure Tolkien… it’s actually got odd cameos from Star Wars characters (the first one was an accident–I was typing Lindir and somehow came out with Anakin…), so I’m trying to either eliminate those or incorporate them properly… and it’s messing with my original ideas for the story. *groans*

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