- "Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow! Bright Blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow!"
- —Tom Bombadil
He seems to have settled at the edge of the Old Forest, close to the Barrow Downs. He set himself boundaries, but boundaries within which his power was extraordinary. Tom was a creature of contradictions, one moment defeating ancient forces with hardly an effort, the next capering and singing nonsensical songs. He lived with his wife Goldberry, "Daughter of the River", far from any other settlement. Goldberry described him as being "Master of wood, water and hill." There are many theories of his origins. He appeared as an old man, at least in Hobbit eyes, with a wrinkled and ruddy face, bright blue eyes, and a bristling brown beard. He was said to be taller than a typical Hobbit, but too short to be a Man, which would put him somewhere between four and a half and five feet in height. His costume consisted of a blue jacket and yellow boots, and he wore an old and battered hat, surmounted by a feather. He seems to have preferred to wear a swan-feather in his hat, but before he met Frodo and company on the banks of the Withywindle, he had acquired the feather of a kingfisher instead. In his own house, rather than a hat, he wore a crown of autumn leaves, perhaps revealing something of the elemental powers he possessed.
In his preface to The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, Tolkien tells us that Tom's name is 'Bucklandish in form', and suggests that it was given to him by the Hobbits of that region. The resemblance of the -dil ending to the common Elvish (n)dil, 'friend', is probably no more than coincidence.
- "Eldest, that's what I am... Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn... He knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless - before the Dark Lord came from Outside."
- —Tom Bombadil (The Lord of the Rings)
In The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, Tolkien describes Goldberry as the seasonal changes in nature, and Tom Bombadil as the (vanishing) Oxford and Berkshire countryside, meaning that Tom is the countryside existing in Time, alive and embodied; However, this letter was in reference to works which pre-dated the writings of Lord of The Rings and thus may not be true of Tom as he appears in Lord of the Rings.
Farmer Maggot of Marish in the Eastfarthing and a few Bucklanders knew him and were friendly with him. Frodo and his company meet Bombadil in the Old Forest. He lives far from any settlement with his wife, Goldberry, "Daughter of the River". She describes him as being "Master of wood, water and hill." Bombadil also rescues the hobbits from the Barrow-wights and gives them the Barrow-blades. He speaks in stress-timed metre. His appearance is brief, but behind Bombadil's simple façade there are hints of great knowledge - he can see the Ring-bearer when invisible and is unaffected by wearing the Ring himself. Gandalf later says that this is because the Ring has no power over him, but dismisses the idea of the Council asking Bombadil to guard the Ring as he would not understand the need for it, and would almost certainly eventually misplace the Ring and leave it vulnerable to rediscovery.
He first appears in the Old Forest, when he sings to Old Man Willow in order to save Merry from death in his trunk. He later tells the Hobbits that they were lucky they were caught at this time, for he wouldn't be passing through the forest again until six months later. The Hobbits stay overnight at his home, bathe in his tubs, and enjoy the hospitality of Tom and Goldberry. The next day Tom sees the Hobbits on their way, and saves them when they are captured by Wights on the Barrow-downs.
See also: The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien, with special reference to Letters 144 and 153.
- "Eldest, that's what I am...Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn...he knew the dark under the stars when it was fearless — before the Dark Lord came from Outside.."
- —Tom Bombadil (The Fellowship of the Ring)
- "Old Tom Bombadil is a merry fellow, Bright blue his jacket is, and his boots are yellow. None have ever caught him yet, for Tom, he is the master: His songs are stronger songs, and his feet are faster."
- —The Fellowship of the Ring
- "He is."
- —Goldberry, upon being asked who Tom Bombadil is
Theories about the nature of Tom Bombadil can be found in the Wikia page Theories about Tom Bombadil.
Portrayals in AdaptationsEdit
In many film and radio adaptations of The Lord of the Rings, Bombadil is notable by his absence, possibly because nobody knows quite what to do with him. Peter Jackson justified his omission of Bombadil from the film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) by pointing out that he did little to advance the story, having nothing to do with the Ring storyline, and serving little purpose when it came to getting the hobbits to Rivendell, and putting together the Fellowship. However, much of Bombadil's dialogue, and the scene in which the hobbits meet Old Man Willow, are transplanted into the scenes that Merry and Pippin share with Treebeard in The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002).Tom Bombadil is a major character in the early quest progression and story-line of The Lord of the Rings Online role-playing game.
In the Games Workshops' Lord of the Rings strategy game, Tom Bombadil is a hero along with his wife, Goldberry. If they enter a fight, they automatically win, although they can not strike blows; nor can he or Goldberry be killed by shooting or magical powers.
Portrayals in popular CultureEdit
- In April 2008, 3-D entertainment model producer Gentle Giant Studios, Inc., headquartered in Burbank, California, released an exclusive sculpted Tom Bombadil bust, limited to 1000 pieces, for the 2007 San Diego Comic-Con. Licensed under New Line Cinema's The Lord of the Rings franchise. TOM BOMBADIL BUST - Gentle Giant Studios
- Spanish band "Saurom Lamberth" dedicated a song to Tom Bombadil, which can be seen here.
- The Two Towers (Mentioned only)
- The Return of the King (Mentioned only)