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28 March 2019

Modern First Editions

Lot 69

J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, first edition, first impression [London, George Allen & Unwin, 1937]

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Estimate £25000 - £35000 + fees

Sold Price £30000



J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, first edition, first impression [London, George Allen & Unwin, 1937]


complete, 1937 printed on the titlepage, frontispiece in black and white, original map endpapers and pastedowns, very slightly browned, original green decorated cloth, with Tolkiens own mountain and dragon design, very slight shelf lean otherwise excellent condition, original first impression dust-jacket with Dodgeson (better known as Lewis Carroll) manual correction on lower flap, some very small restoration to small scuff marks, overall a fine and remarkably clean copy, 8vo


An exemplary copy of the true first edition of Tolkiens debut novel, first printed in September 1937 with a limited run of 1500 copies. It offered its reader, exhausted by the horrors of the First World War and fearful of the next, an escape into the imaginary lands of Middle Earth, travelling with them through the Shire, Rivendell and Mirkwood, leading to the climatic confrontation with the dragon Smaug under the Lonely Mountain. The Hobbit proved wildly popular and had completely sold out by December of the same year. The second impression soon followed, with a print run of 2300 copies, including new additions of colour plates and additional maps. The second printing bears the same date of publication 1937 on the titlepage and is often misidentified as the first edition of the work.


Its popularity grew steadily on a global scale since its publication, with numerous editions published, and radio and television versions realised as far afield as Finland. In 2012-2014 it was once again honoured as a seminal work of fantasy literature, in Peter Jacksons trilogy of film adaptations.


As the work was intended to be book for children, few first edition copies emerge in the same outstanding condition as the present example.