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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.

  • Amazon has a preview on the website of this edition, and then select Look Inside. It also looks like the dust-jackets have been reprinted, issues were identified with the initial dust-jackets, in record time for the book to come out next week 🙂

    • An update on this book from David Brawn at HarperCollins about the delay, posted on the 22nd September, from

      Dear Oronzo

      Greetings! We had to take the book off press, because we were not happy with the first jacket that had been printed and felt it was essential to make corrections. This resulted in a last-minute delay. The book is now printed and should start shipping from our warehouse this weekend. I would like to apologize to your many readers for the delay and thank them for their patience.

      Best wishes, David

      David also went on to say the book was not CANCELLED, just delayed.

      The has some pictures of the book,

      • Francisco Jesus

        is the Amazon link the book already re-printed or before the re-print ?

        • The Amazon link is for the facsimile first Impression of The Hobbit and has the correct dust-jacket for the first printing of the book. Looks like HarperCollins have run out of stock, so I expect the book to be unavailable at all suppliers very shortly.

        • Stu

          The Amazon link shows the incorrect jacket (at the time of writing, anyway), but the book itself has the correct jacket (just in case that wasn’t clear from Trotter’s reply). All the incorrect jackets were destroyed at the printers, so there aren’t any of those in the wild, thankfully.

          Edit: The Amazon link has now ween updated and shows the correct jacket, except for when you click “look inside” and it shows the incorrect one.

  • David Harold

    Mine shipped today from Amazon!

  • Sven

    Whatever happened to the CD with the unheard readings/interview(?) with Tolkien?

    • Stu

      Slated for a separate release (next year), was the last I heard.

  • Ken Davis

    I recently ordered the Hobbit first edition facsimile from Amazon and for the most part was happy but was dismayed that the maps were backwards, with the Wilderland map at the front and Thorin’s map at the back. I am wondering if they are all like that or if they made a mistake with mine. Anybody have any ideas?

    • That looks like a printing error, I’d suggest returning it to Amazon for a replacement copy.

      • Ken Davis

        Thanks for the info!