|Occupation||stealing, fighting, drinking, watchmen, rat catchers|
|Physical appearance||small but very strong|
|Books||The Light Fantastic, Feet of Clay, Jingo, Monstrous Regiment|
|Cameos||Theatre of Cruelty, Night Watch|
Gnomes on the Discworld are six inches tall, resembling humans in general body shape, and usually live alone. A gnome has more physical strength than his size would suggest, and sometimes gives painful, bone-cracking hits to people who have underestimated him. Swires, the first gnome to appear in the Discworld chronicles, made his appearance in a forest area (The Light Fantastic), but in recent years, some gnomes have come to the city of Ankh-Morpork and obtained jobs as tradesmen (Wee Mad Arthur, pest terminator in Feet of Clay) or even Watchmen (Buggy Swires, first appearance as a Watchman in Jingo).
Gnomes appear to be identical to the Ramtops Pictsies but they are found as individual examples; there is no mention of a Gnome society. They may be exiles from the hive-like societies that created them. Wee Mad Arthur is very like the Feegles; Buggy Swires less so, although he uses the same bird-taming method as Hamish the Aviator.
The differences between the Gnomes and the Pictsies can be likened to the rivalries between the Jocks (Scots, so Pictsies) and the Geordies (Northern English, like the Gnomes).
A mechanical eyeball about a foot across lowered itself carefully from the ceiling. Ponder didn't know exactly how it worked, except that it contained vast amounts of incredibly finely drawn tubing. Hex had drawn the plans one night and Ponder had taken them along to the gnome jewelers... (The Science of Discworld II: the Globe, p14).
In other words, gnomes made Hex's scanner-analogue, and work as jewelers in Ankh-Morpork, presumably on the (logical) basis that their tiny hands and fingers would be ideal for incredibly fine metalwork of any kind. This presumes a settled people with mechanical/engineering knowledge and a certain amount of intellectual curiosity. These may be the famed Gnomes of Dzu'rich, yet we've only so far met the other sort of gnome, whose relationship with precious metals and stones would be limited to how much they can carry after robbing the jewelers.
However Gnomes, unlike Pictsies, are generally more reliable and sensible (and other words ending in …ible) so could hold down jobs as jewellers, or glass blowers, or as we have seen: working in puppet shows. ( Theatre of Cruelty).
Behind the scenes
Gnomes are not to be confused with nomes, which are the protagonists in the Bromeliad series. (Except that they're both sub-miniature humanoids living a mainly parasitic existence beneath the notice of the "biggers". So go ahead, be confused.) Gnomes are found on Discworld; Nomes are probably on Roundworld (cf. the "Borrowers").
List of Gnomes
- Buggy Swires, constable in the AM Watch
- Sniddin was a gnome actor in Moving Pictures
- Wee Mad Arthur, a Pictsie raised as a Gnome
- Swires (an early version, maybe)
- A male in red, female called Judy, another male dressed as a policeman and baby Gnome from Theatre of Cruelty. They also have a tiny dog called Toby and a very small crocodile (which must be gnome animals)