Elves were originally found in Germanic and Scandinavian folklore. There were two kinds of elves -the light elves, who were fair, and the dark elves, who were darker than pitch.
Elves were usually mischievous and wicked creatures. They would often cause illness and disease in humans and cattle. Sometimes they would bring bad dreams to sleeping people. They would also steal human children and leave behind changeling fairy children in their place.
In the British Isles and in parts of Europe, farmers had found flint arrowheads and other tools in their fields. Many believed that these were magic weapons made by elves and used by them to injure cattle. These stone tools were called elf-shot, elf-arrows or elf-bolts. By the 17th century their origin became clear - they were prehistoric tools made by the aboriginal inhabitants of Europe.
In modern times, elves are no different from the tiny, harmless and beautiful fairies of nursery folklore.
However, classics such as Goethe's poem Der Erlkonig (The Elf King) and J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings treat elves as a distinct fairy type.
Books about Elves
The Hobbit or There and Back Again (1937)
The Lord of the Rings (1954-55)
Written by J.R.R. Tolkien, these books are outstanding works of fantasy for children and adults alike.
The elves in Tolkien's books are immortal beings with godlike characteristics. They are full of grace and light and tremendous power. Tolkien writes of Rivendell and Lothlorien where live the elves; of Elrond, Galadriel and Celeborn, great elves who help the fellowship. Tolkien also created an entire history and mythology of the Elves of Middle Earth. These myths and tales can be read in the Silmarillion, which is an account of the Elder Days, or the First Age of Tolkien's world.