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“A Brief History of The Hobbit” published

ABriefHistoryofTheHobbitJohn D. Rateliff’s A Brief History of The Hobbit has been published. The tome is a reduced version of Rateliff’s The History of The Hobbit, first published in two volumes in 2007.

According to Rateliff, the Brief History is about 40 per cent shorter than the original edition. The aim of the book is to present Tolkien’s first draft of The Hobbit with much more emphasis on Tolkien and less on Rateliff’s commentaries.

The publisher’s description:

This brand new, shorter edition of the critically acclaimed work includes J.R.R. Tolkien’s complete draft manuscript of ‘The Hobbit’, together with notes about its history, and is perfect for readers of all ages wishing to know more about how he came to write his beloved masterpiece.

J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is a tale that “grew in the telling”, and many character and story threads present in the published book were completely different when Tolkien first read the story to his young sons as part of their “fireside reads”.

A Brief History of The Hobbit presents that original manuscript version of The Hobbit, and this is accompanied by John D. Rateliff’s lively and informative commentary, which looks at the story behind Tolkien’s tale. As well as recording the numerous changes made both before and after publication, it examines – chapter-by-chapter – why those changes were made and how they reflect Tolkien’s ever-growing concept of Middle-earth.

The original account of where Bilbo meets Gollum and steals the ring from him is reprinted here, as are little-known illustrations and maps that Tolkien produced for his own reference when drafting the story, together with his later attempt to recast The Hobbit into the style of The Lord of the Rings.
This invaluable companion to one of the most treasured stories in English literature offers fascinating new insights to those who have grown up with this enchanting tale, and will delight those who are about to enter Bilbo’s round door for the first time.

About the Author: Daniel Helen

Daniel is an Officer without Portfolio and Trustee of The Tolkien Society. Elected in 2014, he is mainly responsible for the Society’s digital operations, including this website.


  • INSURRBUTION

    ’tis funny – Harper Collins publishes the Tolkien books in UK and Canada, US it’s Houghton Mifflin.

    In Canada, the release date for this book is March – whereas in the UK it’s out already, even though it’s the same publisher! We got the ‘big’ releases on the same day: Beowulf, Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun, Children of Hurin… I guess for ‘smaller’ titles like this it may take them longer to distribute or something??

  • This is a good read for people interested in The Hobbit, but it is lacking John’s commentary and I would suggest that if you are interested in the History of the Hobbit then get the 1 volume hardback edition instead.

    • INSURRBUTION

      [which also exists as an ebook]