Elves, or an elf, is are portrayed as long-lived or immortal beings of magical powers. Following J. R. R. Tolkien's influential The Lord of the Rings, wherein a wise, immortal people named Elves have a significant role, elves became staple characters of modern fantasy.

Elves in fantasy

The first appearance of modern fantasy elves occurred in The King of Elfland's Daughter, a 1924 novel by Lord Dunsany. The next modern work featuring elves was The Hobbit, a 1937 children's book by J. R. R. Tolkien. Elves played a major role in many of Tolkien's later works, notably The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien's writing has such popularity that in the 1960s and afterwards, elves similar to those in Tolkien's novels became staple non-human characters in high fantasy works and in fantasy role-playing games.

Post-Tolkien fantasy elves (popularized by the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game) tend to be more beautiful and wiser than humans, with sharper senses and perceptions. They are also said to be much more gifted in magic and stronger mentally but not physically (although this can be disputed by comparing human advances in technology to the somewhat rustic elven technology). Often elves do not possess facial or body hair, and are consequently perceived to be androgynous. A hallmark of fantasy elves is also their long and pointed ears (a convention begun with a note of Tolkien's that the ears of elves were "leaf-shaped"). Elves of the Tolkien mold have become standardized staple characters of modern fantasy. It is worth noting that those things described as being of or related to these fair elves are referred to as "elven" or "elfin", as opposed to "elfish" (a term more closely associated with the sprite-like elves of medieval conception).