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The History of the Hobbit: One Volume Edition

by J. R. R. Tolkien, ed. John D. Rateliff


The Hobbit was first published on 21 September 1937. Like its sequel, The Lord of the Rings, it is a story that ‘grew in the telling’, and many characters and plot threads in the published text are quite different from the story J.R.R. Tolkien first wrote to read aloud to his young sons as one of their ‘fireside reads’.

Together in one volume, The History of the Hobbit presents the complete text of the unpublished manuscript of The Hobbit, accompanied by John Rateliff’s lively and informative account of how the book came to be written and published. Recording the numerous changes made to the story both before and after publication, he examines – chapter by chapter – why those changes were made and how they reflect Tolkien’s ever-growing concept of Middle-earth.

As well as reproducing the original version of one of the world’s most popular novels – both on its own merits and as the foundation for The Lord of the Rings– this book includes many little-known illustrations and draft maps for The Hobbit by Tolkien himself. Also featured are extensive commentaries on the dates of composition, how Tolkien’s professional and early mythological writings influenced the story, the imaginary geography he created, and how Tolkien came to revise the book years after publication to accommodate events in The Lord of the Rings.

Endorsed by Christopher Tolkien as a companion to his essential 12-volume The History of Middle-earth, this thoughtful and exhaustive examination of one of the most treasured stories in English literature offers fascinating new insights for those who have grown up with this enchanting tale, and will delight any who are about to enter Bilbo’s round door for the first time.


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The History of The Hobbit HC (One Vol. Edition) (2023)

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Letter from George Allen & Unwin to C. L. (Charles Leslie) Wrenn • August 1937 (#1996), p. 215, see pp. 884-5 for biographical details on Wrenn.
Letter from George Allen & Unwin to A. H. Smith • August 1937 (#2007), p. 881, p. 887 for biographical details on Smith
Letter from J.R.R. Tolkien to Charles and Dorothy Moore • c. 21 September 1937 (#2029), This copy is not mentioned but see chapter 'Appendices V. Author's Copies List' starting at p. 881 for more details on author copies of The Hobbit.
Carpenter #14: Letter from J.R.R. Tolkien to Allen & Unwin Ltd. • 28 May 1937 (#14), pp. 888-9 (John Rateliff notes that this letter was to Charles Furth, but the letter itself is addressed to 'Sirs'. We retain the recipient as GA&U per the published letter, Hammond/Scull, and our possession of a photocopy of the original letter.)
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