The Fellowship of the Ring, being the first part of The Lord of the Rings, was published 63 years ago today, on the 29th July 1954.
As the first part of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, the book forms the sequel to Tolkien’s 1937 book The Hobbit and starts off with Bilbo Baggins passing on his magical ring to his “nephew” Frodo. The exact nature of the Ring is revealed and Frodo embarks on a quest to take the Ring to Mordor to destroy it. The book sees Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin travel to Bree where they are joined by Aragorn who takes them on to Rivendell. At Rivendell, the Council of Elrond discusses the nature and history of the Ring, and thereafter a Fellowship is formed of Frodo, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Aragorn, Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli and Boromir. They travel south via Moria and Lothlórien and the book ends at Amon Hen.
“The English-speaking world is divided into those who have read The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and those who are going to read them.” – The Sunday Times
Due to the length of the book, the publishers – George Allen & Unwin – decided to split the publication of the book into three volumes, with The Fellowship of the Ring constituting the first volume. Tolkien went on to revise The Lord of the Rings with a second edition in the 1960s, and a definitive edition was published as the 50th Anniversary Edition in 2004. It was first published as an ebook in 2009.
The Lord of the Rings has been translated into around 50 languages and since gone on to sell around 150 million copies. It is ranked as one of the best-selling books of all time, and Amazon customers rated the work as the “Book of the Millennium”.