Saving the Precious - or hands off our Bilbo! - Save The Hobbit in Southampton

Saving the Precious - or hands off our Bilbo!

Saving the Precious - or hands off our Bilbo!

First published in Editor Ian Murray's Blog Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Editor-in-chief

It’s as British as fish and chips and Robin Hood.

The Hobbit has been part of our folklore for several generations.

So quite why an American movie mogul thinks he can demand that a pub in Southampton change its name is beyond me.

Because if Saul Zaentz thinks the good people of this Shire – Hampshire – are going to give in to this particular Dark Lord then he doesn’t know the folk of Middle Earth very well.

Mr Zaentz, multi-millionnaire of the parish of Hollywood – from now on to be known as Mordor (stay with me, but it helps if you know the Lord of the Rings saga) – has bought the rights to the works of J.R.R. Tolkien. It allows him to create films and other merchandise connected to the characters and fantasy stories of one of Britain’s greatest authors. The deal is certain to make him a pretty penny to add to his pile of gold which he no doubt keeps deep in some cavern beneath Mount Doom guarded by a dragon answering to the name of Smorg. But I digress.

But as with all Dark Lords he won’t rest until all of his enemies are vanquished, enemies that include anyone daring to use the name of any of the characters from the books. That includes, his lawyers say, The Hobbit pub in Southampton’s Bevois Valley Road.

The fact The Hobbit has gone by that name for the past 20-years, far longer than Mr Z has owned the rights to the books and certainly longer than Hollywood’s interest in the whole Hobbit saga means nothing to the American mogul.

But for us Brits it means a great deal. It is confirmation that The Hobbit – be he Bilbo Baggins, Frodo, Sam, Pippin or Merry (oh yes, I know my Tolkien) – is as part of our folklore now as Robin Hood, King Arthur and Widow Twanky. As such his name should be free to grace whatever pub sign we wish it to.

But there’s more to this. Although Tolkien himself believed he had made up the name Hobbit, in fact recent research seems to indicate that the term was already in existence. Sources say the term appears in the Denham Tracts, edited by James Hardy, (London: Folklore Society, 1895), which contains a long list of sprites and bogies, based on an older list, the Discovery of Witchcraft, dated 1584. These references include: boggleboes, bogies, redmen, portunes, grants, hobbits, hobgoblins, brown-men, cowies and dunnies. Some experts believe that It seems likely that Tolkien, with his interest in folklore, read this and subconsciously registered the name, reviving it many years later in his most famous character.

As such, The Hobbit is surely as free to use as the bogeyman.

After this paper broke the news of The Hobbit pub’s plight several big hitters waded in, including local MP Alan Whitehead.

But we should aim even higher for political support. The PM is at present in the US meeting with President Obama. Surely he could have a quiet word and set the record straight.

“Barak,” he could say, as they settle into the State Banquet at the Whitehouse, “I need to talk to you about a group of oppressed British citizens your countrymen are harassing.”

“Are they a vote-winning cause?” The President will enquire.

To which Mr Cameron could respond: “They’re cute, quite hairy and have enormous feet, but have more followers that the Kardashians.”

It’s worth a shot - my Precious.

Comments (4)

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9:51am Wed 14 Mar 12

lowe esteem says...

No worries-it's been taken up by a higher power-which is quite interesting.
No worries-it's been taken up by a higher power-which is quite interesting. lowe esteem
  • Score: 0

9:58pm Wed 14 Mar 12

Senna94 says...

The fact is it is not just about the name - the pub has also been using explicit character's names on the drinks and displaying copyrighted images without license in the pub and on their website too. I'm sorry, but I would be pretty upset too if I had created my own work or gained the rights to something legally and saw someone trading and profiting off that property regardless.
The fact is it is not just about the name - the pub has also been using explicit character's names on the drinks and displaying copyrighted images without license in the pub and on their website too. I'm sorry, but I would be pretty upset too if I had created my own work or gained the rights to something legally and saw someone trading and profiting off that property regardless. Senna94
  • Score: 0

10:52am Thu 15 Mar 12

sue1956 says...

So what about Bouzy Rouge in Southampton, they have been using Alice in Wonderland images and names for years and no-one has bothered them.
Good publicity for The Hobbit though!!!!
Good luck with your fight.
So what about Bouzy Rouge in Southampton, they have been using Alice in Wonderland images and names for years and no-one has bothered them. Good publicity for The Hobbit though!!!! Good luck with your fight. sue1956
  • Score: 0

3:23pm Thu 15 Mar 12

housewife says...

Saul Zaentz has owned the rights to the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings since 1976.
And yet he has taken NO ACTION against the pub for its name or the (everyone agrees unacceptable) use of film pictures in their premises until the weeks before filming finishes.
He did not hassle about the LOTR stuff.
The painted representations of and use of names of characters from the BOOKS are outside his remit.
His lawyers have really cocked up here.
They could have asked for a narrow enforcement and got it but they went broad brush and it has backfired.
Saul Zaentz has owned the rights to the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings since 1976. And yet he has taken NO ACTION against the pub for its name or the (everyone agrees unacceptable) use of film pictures in their premises until the weeks before filming finishes. He did not hassle about the LOTR stuff. The painted representations of and use of names of characters from the BOOKS are outside his remit. His lawyers have really cocked up here. They could have asked for a narrow enforcement and got it but they went broad brush and it has backfired. housewife
  • Score: 0

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