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Facsimile first edition of The Hobbit to be published on 22 September


The long-awaited facsimile first edition of The Hobbit will be published on 22 September this year, HarperCollins has confirmed.

Only 1,488 copies of the first impression were printed when the The Hobbit was first published in 1937.

Having completed The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien made a number of changes to the text. Most notably substantially revising Bilbo’s encounter with Gollum in “Riddles in the Dark”.

In the original story Gollum intended to give Bilbo the ring as a reward for defeating him at riddles. Horrified to find he had lost it, Gollum begged Bilbo’s pardon and led him out of the mountains.

The slipcased facsimile of the first edition will cost £25.

From the publisher

This sumptuous gift set includes a replica of the very rare first edition of The Hobbit, the only edition where one can now read the original version of the story before Tolkien re-edited it nearly 30 years later.

The Hobbit was published on 21 September 1937 with a print run of 1,500 copies. With a beautiful cover design and nearly a dozen black & white drawings by the author himself, the book proved to be popular and was reprinted shortly afterwards, and history was already being made.

The scarcity of the first edition has resulted in copies commanding huge prices, way beyond the reach of most Tolkien fans. In addition, subsequent changes to the text – particularly those to chapter five when Tolkien decided to expand the text to marry it up to events in The Lord of the Rings – mean that the opportunity to read the book in its original form and format has become quite difficult.

This special printing reprints the first edition, so that Tolkien’s story may be enjoyed in its original form.

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.