There are a lot of systems around nowadays that don't focus on combat, and that's great.
But I was struck recently by the fact that D&D has always been, and remains, heavily oriented toward fighting when a reading of its inspirations would suggest the opposite.
Consider: the fantasy literature most commonly cited as being inspirations for the game include the works of Tolkien, Jack Vance and Robert E. Howard. However the first two are driven far more by character, narrative and imagination than combat, and while there's plenty of fighting in Conan, it tends to take second place to stealth, exploration and adventure. Many other inspirations are explicitly listed in the AD&D 1e DMG's Appendix N, and a large chunk of that list isn't "all fights all the time."
Furthermore, fluff in the early editions of the game were often at pains to emphasise the imaginative and characterful aspects of the game rather than the militaristic ones, even if the actual rules suggested otherwise.
I know the original rules came out of a wargame, Chainmail, but given that D&D is a standalone product inspired by relatively combat-light fantasy narratives, there should have been ample opportunity to develop non-combat aspects of the game as it was being designed.
So is there any information suggesting how the rules ended up so heavily focused on fighing? Was it just what the designers and playtesters enjoyed most, in spite of intentions otherwise? Or is there more to it than that?