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Predated III 3001;1 survived until at least IV 1722
Originally the private diary of Bilbo Baggins, greatly annotated and expanded
Other names


About this entry:

  • Updated 20 September 2013
  • Updates planned: 1

Red Book of Westmarch

The legendary source of Tolkien’s tales

Diary of
Bilbo Baggins
Frodo's account of
the War of the Ring
Translations from
the Elvish

Red Book
of Westmarch

Thain's Book
(all volumes)
with annotations
Numerous other copies,
(especially of the first volume)

In origin the diary and commentaries of Bilbo Baggins, with additions by his heir Frodo and by Samwise Gamgee, the Red Book was the original source for the tales we know as The Silmarillion, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.



The first definite mention of the Red Book is in the Prologue to The Lord of the Rings, which states that Bilbo took it with him when he left the Shire in III 3001. It was in a very unfinished state at this point; the important Translations from the Elvish would not be added until after Bilbo's arrival at Rivendell. Nevertheless, it must have predated Bilbo's departure by some time, and may even date back to his journey to Erebor sixty years before.


We know that the Red Book survived at least until IV 172, because a Gondorian scribe named Findegil completed a copy of it in that year (this is, incidentally, the last definitely dated event anywhere in Tolkien's work). It did not last indefinitely, however, as the Prologue tells us: 'The original Red Book has not been preserved, but many copies were made...'


About this entry:

  • Updated 20 September 2013
  • Updates planned: 1

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