This is a genealogical overview of the characters in Tolkien's Legendarium: The named individuals and groups of people in the world (Arda) of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion, his canonical works in the sense that they form one consistent story and history. The overview presents a comprehensive graphical aid to placing the characters of Arda in relation to each other, thus enriching the pleasure of reading.
Individuals and people are seen in a broader sense: they include both ordinary thinking beings such as humans, elves, and dwarves; thinking animals such as horses, eagles, and foxes; and souled objects such as swords, ships, and stars. In addition, the overview contains relational information such as kinship, ownership, and creation.
Characters from Tolkien’s lesser known works, The Children of Húrin, Unfinished Tales, and The History of Middle-earth are included when the canonical works do not contradict them, while unnamed or ambiguous characters are omitted. For completion I have consulted The History of the Hobbit, The Adventures of Tom Bombadil, and The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien. In spite of the sheer number of characters and the complexity of Tolkien’s writings, I hope to cover all names – no doubt in vain.
The overview is organized mainly chronologically with early characters placed higher than later characters. The graphical presentation imposes some limitations to this idea, mostly due to indications of kinship and marriage. Characters from one group (house or people) that marry into another group are mentioned in both, the direction of transfer indicated by arrows.
Descriptions of the characters are beyond the scope of this overview – for one, the graphical outline is crowded enough as it is – but clicking the names will forward you to the corresponding webpage at tolkiengateway.net.
The overview is divided into five categories: All books, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and Other books. That way, you may focus on one book at a time while reading, or go for the full overview. You may even print it all as a poster if you have access to large-scale printing.
I began the task of organising the characters of Tolkien’s Arda when I read The Lord of the Rings to my daughter. Soon the effort of remembering characters and their position in the story made me take notes. The notes in turn grew rapidly into a plethora of names and lines that constantly needed revision. The present overview is the result of countless revisions.
Please consult the Legend for a guide to deciphering the information of the overview.