For the first time in one volume, The History of the Hobbit presents the complete unpublished text of the original manuscript of J.R.R.Tolkien’s The Hobbit, accompanied by John Rateliff's lively and informative account of how the book came to be written and published. As well as recording the numerous changes made to the story 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 Hobbit was first published on 21 September 1937. Like its successor, The Lord of the Rings, it is a story that "grew in the telling", and many characters and story threads in the published text are completely different from what Tolkien first wrote to read aloud to his young sons as part of their "fireside reads".
As well as reproducing the original version of one of literature's most famous stories, both on its own merits and as the foundation for The Lord of the Rings, this new book includes many little-known illustrations and previously unpublished maps for The Hobbit by Tolkien himself. Also featured are extensive annotations and commentaries on the date of composition, how Tolkien's professional and early mythological writings influenced the story, the imaginary geography he created, and how Tolkien came to revise the book years after publication to accommodate events in The Lord of the Rings.
Like Christopher Tolkien’s The History of The Lord of the Rings before it, this is a thoughtful yet exhaustive examination of one of the most treasured stories in English literature. Long overdue for a classic book now celebrating 75 years in print, this companion edition offers fascinating new insights for 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
John D. Rateliff moved to Wisconsin in 1981 in order to work with the Tolkien manuscripts at Marquette University. He has been active in Tolkien scholarship for many years, delivering papers on Tolkien and the Inklings. While at Marquette, he assisted in the collation of their holdings with those Christopher Tolkien was editing for his History of Middle-earth series. A professional editor, he lives in the Seattle area with his wife and three cats, only one of whom is named after a Tolkien character.