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Synonyms: chapter, club
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Smials are the local groups of fans of Tolkien. They are run on an entirely voluntary basis by members of The Tolkien Society, though it isn't usually necessary to be a member of the Society to be a member of a smial.

The term "smial" comes from The Lord of the Rings. It is the term the Hobbits themselves used for their excavated dwellings, often simply called "hobbit-holes."

From a 1967 issue of The Tolkien Journal:

Smials: It's taken a long time to realize it, but the smial craze is the most sensible way to organize the Tolkien Society, We have heard from organized smials in Denver, Los Angeles, North Andover (Mass,), and Stony Brook (N.Y.), to pick a few of the better-organized from the myriad of existing ones. We would like to publish a fairly complete list in the next issue of the TJ. This should serve a simultaneous service; if there are two smials in an area they should know about each other in case they want to merge or cooperate, Smial , Professor Tolkien tells us, means "burrow", and "is a likely form for a descendant of /OE/ smygel, and represents well the relationship of Hobbit tran to Rohirric trahan ," It is, strangely enough, related to Smeagol (Hobbit Trahald ), meaning "worming in". No matter about that, though. The important thing is that a smial be a hobbitlike fellowship, people who could have coexisted in a Shire or Buckland smial. This is not to say that there can be no quarrels; cf. the Brandybuck smial. The ideal smial meeting is hard to determine; perhaps one criterion should be infrequence. Meetings are always best when held on special occasions: Yule, Midyears Day, 25 Rethe, 6 Astron, 22 Halimath, etc. The 1966 Yule Moot, held by Scott Smith's L.A, smial, is a good example. Write Scott at [address redacted] for ideas. Now, we would like everyone who has already formed a smial or who would like to form one to drop a card to the TSA with SMIALS written (preferably in bright red) on the front and the name and address of the smial chairman, range of location, and approximate membership on the back. Please -- only one card per smial. We get enough letters without having to deal with unnecessary duplications. If we get notices from all the smials, we should have a long list nextish, but we need it. And send information even if we know about you. It's easier that way. [1]


  1. ^ from Richard Plotz in The Tolkien Journal v.3 n.1