Hobbits are a fictional race of people in the novels of J. R. R. Tolkien. About half average human height, Tolkien presented Hobbits as a variety of humanity, or close relatives thereof. Occasionally known as halflings in Tolkien's writings, they live barefooted, and traditionally dwell in homely underground houses which have windows, built into the sides of hills, though others live in houses. Their feet have naturally tough leathery soles (so they do not need shoes) and are covered on top with curly hair.
Hobbits first appeared in the 1937 children's novel The Hobbit, whose titular Hobbit is the protagonist Bilbo Baggins, who is thrown into an unexpected adventure involving a dragon. In its sequel, The Lord of the Rings, the hobbits Frodo Baggins, Sam Gamgee, Pippin Took, and Merry Brandybuck are primary characters who all play key roles in fighting to save their world ("Middle-earth") from evil. In The Hobbit, Hobbits live together in a small town called Hobbiton, which in The Lord of the Rings is identified as being part of a larger rural region called the Shire, the homeland of the Hobbits in the northwest of Middle-earth. They also live in a village east of the Shire, called Bree, where they co-exist with Men. Tolkien hints that there may be other Hobbit settlements thereabouts, but they are never visited in the story.
The origins of the name and idea of "Hobbits" have been debated; literary antecedents include Sinclair Lewis's 1922 novel Babbitt, and Edward Wyke Smith's 1927 The Marvellous Land of Snergs. The word "hobbit" also appears in a list of ghostly beings in The Denham Tracts (1895), though these bear no similarity to Tolkien's Hobbits. Tolkien emphatically rejected a relationship with the word "rabbit", and emphasized hobbits' humanity, though scholars have noted several lines of evidence to the contrary.
Halflings appear as a race in Dungeons & Dragons, the original name "Hobbits" being avoided for legal reasons. The usage has been taken up by fantasy authors including Terry Brooks, Jack Vance, and Clifford D. Simak.

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