Where was Middle Earth?

Minkyung Oh


Many who have studied the works of Tolkien's beloved novel The Hobbit have argued where they believe Middle Earth once existed. After extensive research, the clear answer to this question seems to point towards rural England. J.R.R. Tolkien's letter confirmed that he based the Shire (where Hobbits live) from rural England. This part of England matches up with Middle Earth's geography. Last of all, there're some folktales that involves similar creatures as in The Hobbit.

Argument #1

J.R.R. Tolkien's letters confirmed that the Shire was based on rural England. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien to his friend/editor states, "The Shire was based on rural England and not any other country in the world..." This means that England is part of an official setting of The Hobbit. There are no other specific location (exact country name) like this that had been confirmed by the author in his letters, therefore this location can be viewed as the real location.

Argument #2

Some parts of England's geography matches up with the Shire. The mountains in the western England (and part of Wales) are in similar location as mountains in western Shire. The Hobbit itself did not mention about the mountains in western Shire, but comparing a map of Shire and England, mountain ranges are in similar location. It may not look exactly the same, even though a lot of time had been passed, it is still in similar location.

Argument #3

The myths/folktales of England involve same creatures that appears in The Hobbit. The creatures such as elves, dwarfs, and trolls (ogres) are common things that appear in both English folktales and The Hobbit. Although some of the traits can be different, their basic appearance and personalities are the same. The elves appearing in The Hobbit are close to nature and magical. Other elves that appear in English folktales seems to have similar traits, according to Live Science. The trolls appear as manlike monster that eats human in both chapter 2 of The Hobbit and English Folktales, as it is stated on Wikipedia.


There might be other people that would say that country like Russia is where Middle Earth was, looking at their geography. A large piece of land that Russia have may recall Middle Earth, but the details such as mountain ranges does not match up as much as England does. Most importantly, England is an official setting that is proven in The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien by an author himself in one of the letters and Russia is not.


Middle Earth existed in England before a modern world. This can be confirmed with author's letter about the location, similar geographic details, and appearance of same creatures. There may be others that does not agree with the fact that England was Middle Earth, but if the author said so, this is the only location that it possibly could have existed. Spread the word of the author and the official work. England was Middle Earth.