So, not long ago Nancy Marie Brown had an interesting piece on her blog ("Bilbo's Ride through Iceland"*) about Tolkien, Morris, and Iceland. In the comments that followed, one reader included a link to a newspaper clipping from Feb. 28th 1999 that, as summarized in NMB's follow-up post, is a profile of a very old lady (89) named Arndis THorjarnardottir who said that she'd once been an au pair girl in the Tolkien household. What's more, she claimed to have told the Tolkien children stories drawn from Icelandic folklore about trolls turning to stone in daylight which thus, by implication, provided Tolkien's source for that distinctive motif in THE HOBBIT. As I said, I can't read Icelandic, but looking at dates in the piece her stay with the Tolkiens seems to be dated to 1930. Here's the link to the clipping:
and here's Nancy Marie Brown's follow-up post about it:
(1) I'd be very interested in learning more about this story. Best of all would be a translation of the whole thing into English; if anyone knows of one, I'd appreciate being pointed in its direction.
(2) Tolkien had already had the chance to learn all about Icelandic folktales of trolls turning to stone at the first touch of sunlight from Helen Buckhurst's 1926 lecture; see THE ANNOTATED HOBBIT p. 80-82 and H.o.H. rev. ed. p. 110. The stories Buckhurst relates are very much of a piece with the ones NMB retells, confirming that such tales were v. likely Tolkien's source, however he first learned of them.
Finally, a nice bit of collaboration comes in the two photos reprinted in the 1999 newspaper article. One is identical with that published on p. 55 of THE TOLKIEN FAMILY ALBUM (Tolkien and toddler Priscilla), while the other was obviously taken at the same time as the picture on the facing page of the FAMILY ALBUM, except that the Icelandic newpaper's picture has Edith, all four children, and another woman (presumably Arndis), while the FAMILY ALBUM version has Edith, the children, and JRRT. The two photos, though not identical, were obviously taken at the same occasion (check the white tea-pot as a confirming detail). I conclude it's v. likely JRRT took the version appearing in the newpaper and Arndis the FAMILY ALBUM one. The FAMILY ALBUM photo of JRRT and Priscilla is dated there "Summer 1930", while the group shot is captioned "Family party, 20 Northmoor Road, March 1930" -- that is, mere months before the likely start date of JRRT's work on THE HOBBIT.
All in all, an interesting discovery.
--check the seventh comment for the link to the 1999 piece.