In one volume for the first time, this revised and updated examination of how J.R.R.Tolkien came to write his original masterpiece The Hobbit includes his complete unpublished draft version of the story, together with notes and illustrations by Tolkien himself.
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Together in one volume, The History of the Hobbit presents the complete text of the unpublished manuscript of The Hobbit, accompanied by John Rateliff’s lively and informative account of how the book came to be written and published.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.
Praise for The Hobbit: ‘The Hobbit belongs to a very small class of books which have nothing in common save that each admits us to a world of its own. Its place is with Alice and The Wind in the Willows’ Times Literary Supplement
‘One of the best loved characters in English fiction… a marvellous fantasy adventure’ Daily Mail
‘Finely written saga of dwarves and elves, fearsome goblins and trolls… an exciting epic of travel, magical adventure, working up to a devastating climax’ The Observer
About the Author
J.R.R.Tolkien (1892-1973) was a distinguished academic, though he is best known for writing The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, plus other stories and essays. His books have been translated into over 60 languages and have sold many millions of copies worldwide.
John D. Rateliff moved to Wisconsin in 1981 to work with the Tolkien manuscripts at Marquette University. He has been active in Tolkien scholarship for many years, delivering papers on Tolkien and the Inklings. While at Marquette, he assisted in the collation of their holdings with those Christopher Tolkien was editing for his History of Middle-earth series. A professional editor, he lives in Seattle with his wife and three cats, only one of whom is named after a Tolkien character.