In speaking of his sources for ents, Tolkien said they "are composed of philology, literature, and life." Was Gollum composed in the same way? Gollum got his start in Tolkien's writings as a creature in his poem "Glip." Gollum got his name from his "gurgling sound," the "horrible swallowing noise in his throat." From which literary sources did Tolkien arrive at the name Gollum? From the Old Norse word for gold, gollum? From the Jewish Golem (Psalm 139:16)? From the giant Goliath in the Old Testament? From Gorbo or Golithos, two characters in E.A. Wyke-Smith's book, "The Marvellous Land of Snergs?" Or from the "Gollywogg" books by the Upton sisters? Tolkien wrote of his creative process, "Nevertheless one's mind is, of course, stored with a 'leaf mould' of memories (submerged) of names, and these rise up to the surface at times, and may provide with modification the bases of 'invented' names." Two more definite sources for Gollum are the monster Grendel in "Beowulf" and the Christian Gospel, as expressed by the frequent appeals for mercy in the Roman Catholic mass.
Wendling, Susan and Wendling, Woody
"A Speculative Meditation on Tolkien's Sources for the Character Gollum,"
Inklings Forever: Vol. 8
, Article 28.
Available at: https://pillars.taylor.edu/inklings_forever/vol8/iss1/28