All I remember about the start of The Hobbit is sitting correcting School Certificate papers in the everlasting weariness of that annual task forced on impecunious academics with children. On a blank leaf I scrawled: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” I did not and do not know why.
Day 2. Discovering Strider:
I met a lot of things on the way that astonished me…. Strider sitting in the corner at the inn was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than had Frodo.
Day 3. Inspiration for Shelob?
If [Shelob] has anything to do with my being stung by a tarantula when a small child, people are welcome to the notion…. I do not dislike spiders particularly, and have no urge to kill them. I usually rescue those whom I find in the bath!
Day 4. In response to the question “What makes you tick?”
I don’t tick. I am not a machine. (If I did tick, I should have no views on it, and you had better ask the winder.)
Day 5. How Middle-earth got its name:
“Middle-earth,” by the way, is not a name of a never-never land without relation to the world we live in…. It is just a use of Middle English middel-erde (or erthe), altered from Old English Middangeard: the name for the inhabited lands of Men “between the seas.”
Day 6. The parts of LOTR that moved Tolkien the most:
I am most stirred by the sound of the horses of the Rohirrim at cockcrow; and most grieved by Gollum’s failure (just) to repent when interrupted by Sam: this seems to me really like the real world in which the instruments of just retribution are seldom themselves just or holy; and the good are often stumbling blocks.
Day 7. Where does Frodo’s name come from?
Frodo is a real name…. Its Old English form was fróda. Its obvious connection is with the old word fródmeaning etymologically “wise by experience.”