First Impression Set of the Most Influential Fantasy Novel Ever WrittenJ. R. R. Tolkien. The Lord of the Rings, including: The Fellowship of the Ring. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954. First edition, first impression. Octavo. 423 pages plus map attached to rear flyleaf. Publisher's red cloth with gilt spine titles. In original dust jacket priced "21s net." Top edge stained red. [and:] The Two Towers. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1954. First edition, first impression. Octavo. 352 pages plus map attached to rear flyleaf. Publisher's red cloth with gilt spine titles. In original dust jacket priced "21s net." Top edge stained red. [and:] The Return of the King. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1955. First edition, first impression, first state (with signature mark "4" at the bottom of page 49). Octavo. 416 pages plus map attached to rear flyleaf. Publisher's red cloth with gilt spine titles. In original dust jacket priced "21s net." Top edge stained red.
Minor shelf wear to boards and dust jackets. Light foxing, mainly to endpapers. Dust jacket spines slightly toned and worn at the extremities. Panels lightly rubbed. Minor ink stains to dust jacket spine of Fellowship. Contemporary penciled owner's signature on front free endpaper of Fellowship and Two Towers. A near fine set of Tolkien's fantasy classic. All three housed together in a custom red quarter leather clamshell box. Rare is the opportunity to acquire a complete set of the original Lord of the Rings trilogy in one place, especially in this condition.
Essentially a continuation of The Hobbit, Tolkien wrote his epic tale of hobbits and the evil Sauron during the Second World War "and finally, having polished it to his own satisfaction, published it as a trilogy from 1954 to 1955, a volume at a time, impatiently awaited by a growing audience... [It is] one of this century's lasting contributions to that borderland of literature between youth and age. There are few such books - Gulliver's Travels, The Pilgrim's Progress, Robinson Crusoe, Don Quixote, Alice in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows - what else?... The Hobbit and its sequel, The Lord of the Rings, are destined to become this century's contribution to that select list of books which continue through the ages to be read by children and adults with almost equal pleasure" (Eyre, 67, 134-135).
Hammond & Anderson A5a. Pringle, Modern Fantasy, 60-61. Fantasy 100 Best, 161-62.
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