Farmer Giles of Ham (written in 1947, published in 1949) is a short Middle Earth story written by J. R. R. Tolkien. The story describes a series of encounters between Farmer Giles and a wily Dragon named Chrysophylax. It is set in a fantasy Britain of long ago, which has mythical creatures, medieval knights, and primitive firearms. It is happily anachronistic, and is more of a folk-tale than the epics Tolkien is better known for. The book was originally illustrated by Pauline Baynes.

Plot Edit

Farmer Giles was not a hero. He was fat and red-bearded and enjoyed a slow, comfortable life. One day a rather deaf and short-sighted giant blundered on to his land. Farmer Giles managed to scare him away with a blunderbluss. The people of the village cheered: Farmer Giles was a hero. His reputation spread far and wide across the kingdom, and he was rewarded by the King of the Middle Kingdom a sword named Caudimordax, or "Tailbiter", a powerful weapon against dragons.

The giant reports to its monstrous friends that there are no more knights, just stinging flies (actually scrap metal from Giles' blunderbuss), in the Middle Kingdom. This prompts a dragon, Chrysophylax Dives, to investigate the area and everyone turns to the accidental hero Farmer Giles to deal with it.

The story makes light of the great dragon-slaying traditions. The knights who are supposed to do the job are useless fops more intent on "precedence and etiquette" than on noticing huge dragon footprints littering the landscape. "Giles" is also an interesting commentary on how people react to danger. Heroes aren't simply called for, they are demanded and hapless farmers can be forced to be heroes.

The Latin names and references imply that Giles is a Briton, a late generation remnant of the old empire after the decline of the western authority of the Romans. All the Giles place-names are supposed to occur relatively close to Oxford, along the Thames or on the route from London to Oxford.

Among the jokes is a question put to "the four wise clerks of Oxenford"; Tolkien then quotes from the Oxford English Dictionary, on which he had worked. The phrase "wise clerk of Oxenford" is also a reference to Chaucer's Clerk.

"Farmer Giles of Ham" is sometimes published in an omnibus edition with "Smith of Wootton Major", another Tolkien novella with illustrations by Pauline Baynes.

It is rumored that farmer Giles in really Hamwise Gamgee but it is very unlikely since Hamwise did not believe in Dragons.

Translations around the world Edit

Foreign Language Translated name
Aragonese Chil, o torrero de Ham
Basque Giles, Hameko nekazaria
Catalan Gil, el granger de Ham
Dutch Boer Gilles van Ham
Finnish Maamies ja lohikäärme
French Le Fermier Gilles de Ham
Galician O granxeiro Giles de Ham
Georgian ფერმერი ჯაილზ ჰემელი
German Bauer Giles von Ham
Greek Γεωργός ο Γίλης απ' το Χαμ
Hungarian A sonkádi Egyed gazda
Italian Il Cacciatore di Draghi
Japanese 農夫ジャイルズの冒険
Norwegian Eigil Bonde fra Heim
Polish Gospodarz Giles z Ham
Portuguese Fazendeiro Gil de Ham
Russian Фермер Джайлс из Хэма
Spanish Egidio, el granjero de Ham
Swedish Gillis Bonde från Ham
Thai พระราชาชาวนา