On January 16, 1938, the Observer daily paper distributed a letter getting some information about The Hobbit's connections to Beowulf and different branches of mythology, and also the abstract and philological inceptions of Tolkien's The Hobbit. In this letter, imprinted in the daily paper on February 20 1938, Tolkien gave an exhaustive answer. He affirmed the obligation he owed to Beowulf, however he thought it was generally oblivious.
Tolkien then provided some of the origins of names he can trace: Gandalf and Dwarves' from the Elder Edda, Smaug's from the Germanic Smugan and Hobbits' from "Obvious Sources" (he gives "the full list of some wealthier families' surnames, such as Baggins, Boffin, Bolger, Bracegirdle, Brandybuck, Burrows, Chubb, Grubb, Hornblower, Proudfoot, Sackville, and Took"). He also discussed his idiosyncratic use of the plural "dwarves" rather than "dwarrow"—but he "knew no better"—and runes.