Hobbits are a people distantly akin to Men, though they are shorter and less stocky than Dwarves, with a height between two and four feet. Hence they are known as 'halflings' among Men. They wear comfortable clothes in bright colours, particularly yellow and green, and they bear curly
dark hair both on their heads and on the tops of their leathery feet, on which they rarely wear shoes.
Generally good-natured, peaceful, hospitable, filled with laughter, and possessing a great love of good food and drink (they consume six meals a day), Hobbits keep to themselves in the land they call the Shire. Hobbits define three strains among their people, each identifiable by common preferences, habits, and qualities:
The least numerous type of Hobbit, Fallohides are taller and slimmer and have fairer skin and hair than their brethren. They also have more skill with language and song than with craftwork. Oft possessing a streak of boldness and a sense of‘ adventure unusual in Hobbits, theylove trees and woodlands and enjoy the company of‘ Elves. Like Bilbo and Frodo, both of whom had a strong
Fallohide strain in their ancestry, they often become leaders among their people.
The most numerous of the Hobbits, Harfoots tend to be shorter than most of their folk, with browner skin. Their neat and nimble lingers make them good at craltwork, and they have better relations with Dwarves than other Hobbits do. They favour highlands and hillsides, and they have retained the old hobbit custom of living in holes and tunnels the longest.
Broader and heavier than other Hobbits, and with larger feet and hands, Stoors the most common in the Marish and Buckland. They have less shyness of men then their cousins do, and they are the only Hobbits who know aught of swimming, boats and fishing. They prefer to live in flatlands and beside rivers.
Most Hobbits have lifespans equal to those of ordinary Men. A Hobbit older than 100 is considered quite elderly and respectable.
Hobbits originally lived in holes and tunnels, and many (particularly Harfoots) and still do. Their dwellings range from poor, simple holds to larger, more luxurious warrens called smials. But by the late Third Age, many live in long, low houses of wood, brick, and stone. Their workshops, mills, and smithies are also in buildings.
Hobbits have long childhoods, coming of age at 33; they refer to the carefree and irresponsible twenties as the 'tweens.' Birthdays are an occasion of much celebration in which the ribadyan (celebrant) both receives and gives away presents, often mathoms, objects Hobbits have no use for but don't wish to throw away.
Though they once dwelt in the Vales of Anduin and in the region of Dunland, by the late Third Age all Hobbits live in or near a region of northwestern Eriador they call the Shire, a 40 by 50 league region ﬁrst settled by the Fallohide brothers, Marcho and Blanco, in TA 1601 with permission of the High King at Fornost. A green and pleasant land of rolling hills, tilled fields, sunny meadows, small woods, and mild weather, the Shire is divided into four farthings, North, East, South, and West, and suits their amicable nature quite well. Because they can grow and build there everything they need, they rarely have any traffic with outsiders, except for Dwarves and other travellers passing through their lands. The Hobbits of the Shire recognize the authority of a leader they call the Thain, though he does little actual governing, it rarely being needed. The chief of the Took family holds this office. Their largest town, Michel Delving, has a mayor elected every seven years. A group of Hobbits called the Watch, or the 'Shirriffs', keeps the peace and rounds up stray animals. Three Shirriffs patrol each farthing and several 'bounders' keep undesirables from crossing the borders.
Few Hobbits have entered into the chronicles of the Wise and thus become known to other peoples. Indeed, before the War of the Ring, the Men of Gonder and Rohan considered Hobbits the stuff of tales, but the actions of Bilbo Baggins (Ring Finder), his cousin Frodo Baggins (the Ring-bearer), and the other three Hobbits who joined the Company of the Ring, Samwise Gamgee, Meriadoc 'Merry' Brandybuck, and Peregrin 'Pippin' Took, have brought themselves and their people much fame.