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    J. R. R. Tolkien. The Hobbit. Or There and Back Again. London: George Allen and Unwin, [1937]. First edition, with "First published in 1937" on the copyright page and all sixteen misprints as called for by Hammond and Anderson. Octavo. 310, [2, ads] pages; illustrated by the author; one illustration, "Norwood," is inserted. Publisher's green cloth, decoratively stamped in dark blue, front board and spine lettered in black; top edge stained green; map endpapers. In restored original first-state dust jacket, illustrated by the author, with "Dodgson" misspelled as "Dodgeson" on the back flap with the "e" blacked out by the publisher. Spine gently leaning; backstrip dulled; boards just slightly bowed; edges lightly rubbed with some light discoloration; small ding to the lower edge of the rear board; corners softly bumped; some occasional minor soiling with very faint sporadic foxing. Topstain lightly faded with a small, light stain; page edges foxed; occasional minor over-opening. Dust jacket skillfully restored at spine ends and fold edges; spine panel faintly dulled. A very good copy in a nicely restored jacket. Housed in a custom morocco clamshell case. Hammond and Anderson A3a. From a Private Collection in St. Charles, IL.


    More Information:

    Like A. A. Milne before him and many authors before and since, Tolkien began his famous story of Bilbo Baggins and his wizard friend Gandalf as a storytime tale for the children he loved. His eldest sons remember elements of the story being told to them in the family's Oxford study as far back as 1929, a fact the author seems to confirm in a 1955 letter to W. H. Auden: "All I can remember about the start of The Hobbit is sitting correcting School Certificate papers in the everlasting weariness of that annual task forced on impecunious academics with children. On a blank leaf [of one of the student papers] I scrawled: 'In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.' I did not and do not know why. I did nothing about it, for a long time, and for some years I got no further than the production of Thror's Map. But it became The Hobbit in the early 1930s..."

    "Bilbo Baggins was a hobbit who lived in his hobbit-hole and never went for adventures, at last Gandalf the wizard and his dwarves perswaded [sic] him to go. He had a very exiting [sic] time fighting goblins and wargs. At last they got to the lonley [sic] mountain; Smaug, the dragon who gawreds [sic] it is killed and after a terrific battle with the goblins he returned home - rich! This book, with the help of maps, does not need any illustrations it is good and should appeal to all children between the ages of 5 and 9." Rayner Unwin, age 10, son of publisher Stanley Unwin, in a reader's report to his father dated October 30, 1936. Partially upon the basis of this report, Allen & Unwin became publishers of The Hobbit, as Stanley Unwin believed "the best judges of children's books were children." A rich and culturally significant relationship thus began between author and publisher that would continue through The Lord of the Rings and for years beyond.





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    14th Thursday
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