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22933"Joseph Bright" and Huddersfield hobbits

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  • John Rateliff
    Feb 16, 2012
      Here's a quick request for a fact-check. I'm listening to Michael Drout's lecture series OF SORCERERS AND MEN: TOLKIEN AND THE ROOTS OF MODERN FANTASY LITERATURE. So far I'm only about a quarter of the way through, and I'm finding it v. uneven. The lecture on Tolkien's biography and how it influenced his work was excellent, while the one on THE HOBBIT I thought really missed the boat. What puzzles me more, though, are some statements I hadn't come across before.

      Query #1: Did Tolkien believe that his old mentor Joseph Wright (whom Drout keeps calling "Joseph Bright") had "lost his literary soul"? I know from a little online digging that this comes from one of Tolkien's YEAR'S WORK IN ENGLISH STUDIES year-in-review pieces, but can find no indication at all that he felt this way about Wright.

      Query #2: Drout says the word "hobbit" occurs in medieval English, and that Tolkien took it from a book on the dialect of the Huddersfield district. This wd be Haigh's book, to wh. Tolkien wrote a foreword. I don't have a copy of this book, but I never heard that hobbit appears in it. I think Drout has confused Haigh's book, which we know Tolkien thought highly of, with Denham's mid-Victorian collection (THE DENHAM TRACTS), which does include the word "hobbit" but which there's no evidence Tolkien ever saw. Can anyone elucidate? 

      Thanks in advance.

      --John R.
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