Ostensibly, the Red Book of Westmarch includes the stories of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. However, the narrator's style and knowledge seem quite different between the two latter books. That is, in The Hobbit the narrator knows the entire story, referring to future events and feelings, yet is somehow bound by time, not delving into too much backgroud when there isn't enough time. Conversely, iirc, in Lord of the Rings, the narrator is simply a narrator, telling over the events as they happen, perhaps with a more serious tone.

Is there a connection between the Red Book of Westmarch, The Hobbit, and Lord of the Rings? That is, are they one and the same? Is the Red Book just source material for a later writer to author the other books? Or, is there no connection at all, the Red Book existing inside the world, The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings outside it.

2 Answers 2


The Red Book of Westmarch is actually a total of 5 volumes, comprising the collected writings of both Bilbo and Frodo, the first book containing both There and Back Again (Bilbo's memoirs aka The Hobbit), and The Downfall of the Lord of the Rings and The Return of the King (The LOTR trilogy), a further three-volume work titled Translations from the Elvish (Bilbo's translations of Elvish writings from the Elder Days, published as The Silmarillion), and a 5th volume on Hobbit genealogical tables and other miscellany (Contained in the appendices to the LOTR).

The Real World published versions of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion are supposed to be translations of the respective portions of the Red Book (actually from a copy of the Red Book possessed by Tolkien known as Thain's Book) from the original languages into English.

  • Who is the narrator then? Jul 8, 2014 at 15:56
  • 7
    Bilbo is narrating in third person the There and Back Again portions, and Frodo similarly the Downfall portions. Jul 8, 2014 at 16:17
  • 1
    In other words, it's all Found Footage.
    – Spencer
    Mar 9, 2019 at 13:42
  • The Hobbit can be assumed to have second-person narration from the translator interspersed throughout the book as well.
    – chepner
    Jul 27, 2022 at 14:18

The concept in LOTR is that the Red Book of Westmarch includes the material we know as both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, but the earlier "Hobbit" chapters were written by Bilbo, while the later ones were written by Frodo. This explains the differences in style between the two.

As I recall the Red Book is described towards the end of Return of the King as starting with pages in Bilbo's handwriting, but soon changing to Frodo's script.

  • I thought that Sam wrote the "LOTR" chapters? Jul 10, 2014 at 16:38
  • Sam wrote the last few chapters, roughly. You can also assume Sam is the source for the narrative of the journey across Mordor, even if Frodo wrote it. Frodo couldn't remember anything of his own life at that point, and he was also hallucinating constantly. Jan 7 at 7:29

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