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I know that The Hobbit was published first before the The Lord of the Rings trilogy. And since that was the first appearance of The One Ring, I was wondering if Tolkien had planned it to be so.

So, my question is whether he had planned for the ring that Bilbo found to be part of events that transpire later, or did he just use it later as a convenient starting/entry point?

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2 Answers 2

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When The Hobbit was first published there was no connection between Sauron and the Ring.

Sauron did exist (at the time of writing he was called Thu rather than Sauron, but the character was the same), Tolkien had always intended that he was the Necromancer, but the concept of the Rings of Power hadn't yet emerged, and therefore nor had Sauron's connection to them.

In the second or third editions of The Hobbit two references connecting Sauron to the Ring, and reflecting the new concept of the Ring entered the text of Riddles in the Dark:

But who knows how Gollum came by that present, ages ago in the old days when such rings were still at large in the world? Perhaps even the Master who ruled them could not have said.

And:

Whether it was.an accident, or a last trick of the ring before it took a new master, it was not on his finger.

But these were not in the original text presented in John Rateliff's History of the Hobbit.

The development of the concept of the Rings of Power and their link to Sauron can be traced in History of Middle-earth 6 and 7, and there is no question but that the emergence of Bilbo's ring as the One Ring, and the precise nature of this Ring, took place during the writing of Lord of the Rings, and after many successive drafts, particularly of the chapter that became The Council of Elrond.

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11  
Also of interest is the fact that in original editions of The Hobbit, the ring isn't portrayed as evil. Gollum is primitive rather than vicious and plays the riddle game rather more nicely with Bilbo. The original text of the Riddles in the Dark chapter can be found in the annotated edition of The Hobbit. –  Matt Thrower Aug 14 at 11:13

It certainly does not seem like the ring was planned for in The Hobbit. The Hobbit is written as a children's story, does not seem to be written as a prelude to a dark epic like LOR. There is no Sauron, the dragon does not seem to be serving any higher power than itself, and, as is written in the book itself, Gollum says "my precious" in reference specifically to himself. The idea that "my precious" meant his ring is something that comes up only in LOR, a somewhat awkward bit of backtracking. The ring seems to have been little more than a magical trinket of the sort that pops up in children's books. After all, an invisibility ring isn't by any means Tolkien's invention.

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Interesting fact: in LotR when Gollum says "precious" (lowercase p) he's referring to himself, when he says "Precious" (uppercase P) he's referring to the Ring. –  Darth Satan Aug 14 at 22:33
    
That is interesting. Makes me wonder how that difference played out in Tolkien's mind. On the other hand - if Gollum used such a reverent tone in regard to the ring that Tolkien had to capitalize it, it makes it even more awkward that he referred to himself as "precious" too. Why use the same word for yourself that you use for the item you so worship? I wish Tolkien spent a bit more time reconciling the whole "precious" thing. –  Misha Rosnach Aug 15 at 1:53

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