Edward Wyke Smith

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

E. A. Wyke-Smith
BornEdward Augustine Smith[1]
(1871-04-12)12 April 1871
United Kingdom
Died16 May 1935(1935-05-16) (aged 64)
GenreChildren's literature
Notable workThe Marvellous Land of Snergs

Edward Augustine Wyke-Smith (12 April 1871 – 16 May 1935)[1] was an English adventurer, mining engineer and writer. He is known mainly for The Marvellous Land of Snergs, a children's fantasy novel he wrote as E. A. Wyke-Smith, whose "snergs" provided inspiration for Tolkien's creation of hobbits.


Born Edward Augustine Smith, he "reclaimed older family name Wyke-Smith" by deed poll.[1][2]

After a time in the Horse Guards at Whitehall, Wyke-Smith joined the crew of a windjammer and sailed to Australia and the west coast of the United States. In the American West, he worked as a cowboy. Back in England, he studied mine engineering and later managed mines in Mexico, the Sinai, South America, Spain, Portugal and Norway. During the 1913 revolution in Mexico, he rescued his wife from the capital. He built a pontoon bridge across the Suez canal during the First World War.

According to John Clute, Wyke-Smith "began writing fantasy tales for his children as an apparent antidote to the experience of World War I."[2] He wrote his first book, Bill of the Bustingforths, at his children's request. He went on to write several others, both for children and adults.

Influence on Tolkien[edit]

J. R. R. Tolkien, author of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings is known to have read, The Marvellous Land of Snergs to his children. He said, "I should like to record my own love and my children's love of E. A. Wyke-Smith's Marvellous Land of Snergs, at any rate of the snerg-element of that tale, and of Gorbo the gem of dunderheads, jewel of a companion in an escapade."[3]

The similarities between the races of snergs and hobbits have led to speculation that the book was a major inspiration.[4] They are similar in their physical descriptions, their love of communal feasting, and their names, particularly Gorbo and Bilbo. In all the books there are also journeys through dangerous forests and underground caverns.


  • Bill of the Bustingforths (1921), illustrated by George Morrow[2]
  • The Last of the Baron (1921)
  • Some Pirates and Marmaduke (1921)
  • Captain Quality (1922)
  • The Second Chance (1923)
  • Because of Josephine (1924)
  • Fortune My Foe (1925)
  • The Marvellous Land of Snergs (1927), illus. Morrow


  1. ^ a b c "Wyke-Smith, E. A. (Edward Augustine), 1871–1935". Library of Congress Authorities (lccn.loc.gov). Retrieved 2017-01-03. Cites the 1995 introduction to The Marvellous Land of Snergs: "years later he reclaimed older family name Wyke-Smith".
  2. ^ a b c Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997): "Wyke-Smith, E A". Online reprint of the encyclopedia at SFE: The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction (sf-encyclopedia.uk). Entry by JC, editor John Clute. Retrieved 2017-01-05.
  3. ^ The Annotated Hobbit; ISBN 0-618-13470-0 at www.houghtonmifflinbooks.com
  4. ^ Goodreads | Tales Before Tolkien: The Roots of Modern Fantasy at www.goodreads.com

Other sources[edit]

External links[edit]