The Hobbit, or There and Back Again
, by John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, went on sale 75 years ago today. The first printing, by Allen & Unwin, was for 1,500 copies (which now fetch a premium at auction
); the first reviewer, the son of the publisher, was paid a shilling
. Through a contorted publishing history, exact or even approximate sales figures are unknown; "over a hundred million" is often quoted
Tolkien was born in the Orange Free State (now South Africa) in 1892. Via Birmingham and Worcestershire, and active service in World War I
, he spent much of his life in Oxford where he taught at the university, wrote The Hobbit and several other works, and studied
languages. One significant revision
to the original text of the Hobbit was made here when Tolkien was drafting The Lord of the Rings, to make the nature of the ring, and its effect on Gollum, compatible with this later work.
While some speculate
on the endurance of the story, read one of the many companion books
, or the ebook version in which Tolkien sings 'Chip the glasses and crack the plates!"
, replay the ZX Spectrum game adaptation
, celebrate the anniversary by partaking of a second breakfast
at 11am this morning, or watch the latest trailer
for the first in the forthcoming film trilogy (or watch one of the previous adaptations
), others may choose to hear the author himself read from The Hobbit
, or explain how he wrote the first line
In addition to todays anniversary, many fans celebrate tomorrow (September 22nd) as Hobbit day
, marking the birthdays of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins.
After a long academic career at Oxford University, Tolkien retired to Bournemouth. He died in 1973. John and Edith, married for 55 years, are buried in the same grave in Wolvercote Cemetery, Oxford