Tolkien Reading Day – The Love & Friendship Of Gandalf & Bilbo

Well, it’s finally upon us, the 25th March, or as we better know it; Tolkien Reading Day! This time around I’ve decided to read through several passages of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, to read about the love and friendship of Gandalf and Bilbo Baggins.

It’s weird to think that it’s been a year since the last Tolkien Reading Day when I wrote about the hope and courage of Sam in the Tower of Cirith Ungol, in the Land of Shadow. It’s also worth noting that I still haven’t realised the artwork I was planning from that reading, however, it is mapped out…

I haven’t made the same mistake this time around however, as for this reading, I managed to create an artwork ready for this post, a new addition to my collection of Middle-earth art.

What Is Tolkien Reading Day?

For those that are unaware, Tolkien Reading Day is an annual event organised by the Tolkien Society since 2003 to encourage admirers of the life and works of JRR Tolkien to read their favourite passages, usually in line with a theme provided by the Society. 

It’s held on the 25th of March each year as that is the date on which the One Ring was destroyed [Spolier Alert], completing Frodo’s quest and vanquishing Sauron.

If you’re unsure what any of that means, please do read the books, or at the very least, watch the movies…

The Love And Friendship Of Gandalf And Bilbo Baggins

These two very good friends are the inspiration behind my Tolkien Reading Day this year, and it’s been a lot of fun to dig into several of the books to compile my reading material, as well as work on a new artwork. 

The beauty of this friendship is that it’s one that is threaded throughout The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, and has a nice sense of tying the overall story, and this theme in particular, together.

Without further ado, let’s allow Tolkien himself to do the talking on the matter; here’s my reading for this year:

We see from the opening pages of book one chapter 1 the long-expected party that Gandalf knew Bilbo’s plan to leave the Shire. He had also encouraged and persuaded Bilbo to leave the Ring behind for Frodo.

It was a fine night, and the black sky was dotted with stars. He looked up, sniffing the air. ‘What fun! What fun to be off again, off on the road with Dwarves! This is what I have really been longing for, for years! Good-bye!’ he said, looking at his old home and bowing to the door. ‘Good-bye Gandalf!’

‘Good-bye for the present, Bilbo. Take care of yourself! You are old enough, and perhaps wise enough.’

‘Take care! I don’t care! Don’t you worry about me! I am as happy now as I have ever been, and that is saying a great deal. But the time has come. I am being swept off my feet at last.’

He paused, silent for a moment. Then without another word he turned away from the lights and voices in the field and tents, and followed by his three companions went round into his garden, and trotted down the long sloping path. He jumped over a low place in the hedge at the bottom, and took to the meadows, passing into the night like a rustle of wind in the grass.

Gandalf remained for a while staring after him into the darkness. ‘Good-bye my dear Bilbo – until our next meeting!’ he said softly and went back indoors. –

The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book One, Chapter I: The Long-Expected Party

We pick up our reading again in Rivendell, and we listen in on a conversation between Frodo and Bilbo, the context here is that this is the first time Frood has seen Bilbo since he vanished at his 111th birthday party some 16 years earlier.

‘I hear all kinds of news, from over the Mountains, and out of the South, but hardly anything from the Shire. I heard about the Ring, of course. Gandalf has been here often. Not that he has told me a great deal, he has become closer than ever these last few years.’

Bilbo then says:

‘I have thought several times of going back to Hobbiton for it [The Ring]; but I am getting old, and they would not let me: Gandalf and Elrond, I mean. They seemed to think that the enemy was looking high and low for me, and would make mincemeat of me, if he caught me tottering about in the Wild.

‘And Gandalf said: “The Ring has passed on, Bilbo. It would do no good to you or to others, if you tried to meddle with it again.” Odd sort of remark, just like Gandalf. But he said he was looking after you, so I let things be. I am frightfully glad to see you safe and sound.’ –

The Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring, Book Two, Chapter I: Many Meetings

We can pick out a lot from what Bilbo tells Frodo throughout that conversation, particularly in terms of how much Gandalf loved Bilbo and looked to his best interests. And also with how Bilbo took Gandalf’s advice and guidance to heart, accepting his counsel.

It’s also evident that Bilbo saw a fair bit of Gandalf over the years since he returned to Rivendell, and we can only imagine some of the conversations they had during those times, and just how much their love and friendship had grown and blossomed.

How Did Their Love And Friendship Continue After The Ring Was Destroyed?

Almost three years after the last passage that took place around the time of the Council of Elrond, both Gandalf and Bilbo depart Middle-earth, never to return.

They both board the Ringbearers’ ship in the Grey Havens and set sail for the Undying Lands; along with Elrond, Galadriel, Frodo and Gandalf’s horse; Shadowfax.

All in all, it’s been another extremely enjoyable year, digging into Tolkien’s works with some intent, and reading along to such an interesting theme.

Thank you for joining me this year for my Tolkien Reading Day post.

The Return Journey Of Gandalf And Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit

Charcoal Drawing Illustration of Gandalf And Bilbo From JRR Tolkien's The hobbit And The Lord Of The Rings
The Return Journey Of Gandalf And Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit

It was Spring, and a fair one with mild weathers and a bright sun before Bilbo and Gandalf took their leave at last of Beorn, and though he longed for home, Bilbo left with regret, for the flowers of the garden of Beorn were in springtime no less marvellous than in high summer.

At last they came up the long road, and reached the very pass where the goblins has captured the before.

But they came to that high point at morning, and looking backward they saw a white sun shining over the outstretched lands.

There behind lay Mirkwood, blue in the distance, and darkly green at the outer edge even in the Spring. There far away was the Lonely Mountain on the edge of eyesight.

The Hobbit, Chapter XVIII: The Return Journey

What Are You Reading For Tolkien Reading Day 2022?

Feel free to leave a comment, or contact me if you’d like to discuss all things Middle-earth, I am always willing to have a good, Tolkien-centric discussion.

I’m also open to commissions at present if you’d like to enquire about having an artwork created, or a story to be told.

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