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John Lennard john.c.lennard at gmail.com
Tue Aug 27 17:05:01 BST 2019

Eric (I think) : The Shire is the English countryside around Regency times,
as Tolkien
thought it should have been.  No aristocrats, no submerged lower class
living on sufferance on rented property, no nasty old industry.

John: Um ... right reasons, but why Regency? 1890s, surely, when Tolkien
was growing up in Sarehole, then still a village quite detached from
Birmingham, with a working watermill, but destroyed before he left King
Edward's School by, mostly, the suburban commuter railway, and latterly
what Churchill called the "infernal combustion engine", violently
downsizing the enormous equine economy. That's what T. was on about in the
foreword to the 2/e when, after lamenting the death of friends by 1918, he
says the country he grew up in was under assault before he was 10.

Shippey reckoned Hobbiton in *The Hobbit* as a Cotswold village c.1890s,
and I can't see any good reason to push the date much if any further back.

John Lennard, MA DPhil. (Oxon.), MA (WU)

Associate Member & Director of Studies in English, Hughes Hall, Cambridge
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