Tolkien Publishes The Hobbit
The 21st of September 1937 AD
The Hobbit, written in the early 1930s by Oxford Professor of Anglo-Saxon, J.R.R. Tolkien , may never have been published had his manuscript not been lent to various friends including C.S. Lewis . Their praise led to contact with Allen and Unwin the publishers, where it was given to 10-year-old Rayner Unwin to comment on: he loved it.
The first edition of the book, 310 pages including 10 illustrations by Tolkien, and protected by a green, blue and black dust-jacket likewise designed by the author and wrapped over green cloth boards, was only some 1500 copies. It sold out by December 15 largely as the result of good reviews including a gushing one by C.S. Lewis. First editions in good condition with dust jacket will fetch well over £5,000 nowadays, and a signed copy is likely to cost more than ten times that.
An instant children’s classic, The Hobbit joined a list of books including Wind in the Willows and Alice in Wonderland that are just as often read by adults. Its story of a perilous journey by the rather diffident Bilbo Baggins, who several times proves himself a hero, and its fantasy setting of Middle Earth populated by various fabulous races and creatures, is timeless and engaging, and possesses that most elusive of qualities - charm.
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