The History of The Hobbit

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The History of The Hobbit
Editor John D. Rateliff
Author J. R. R. Tolkien & John D. Rateliff
Illustrator J. R. R. Tolkien
Cover artist J. R. R. Tolkien
Language English
Series The History of The Hobbit
Genre High fantasy, children's literature
Publisher HarperCollins (UK)
Houghton Mifflin (USA)
Publication date
2007
Media type Print
Pages 905 (paperback)
ISBN 978-0-00-726646-3 (Mr. Baggins)
ISBN 978-0-00-726647-0 (Return to Bag-End)
ISBN 9780007369669 (single volume e-book edition)

The History of The Hobbit is a two-volume study of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. It was published by HarperCollins in June and July 2007 in the United Kingdom, with both volumes released in the United States by Houghton Mifflin on 21 September 2007; a boxed set combining The Hobbit with The History of The Hobbit was released on 26 October 2007. A single volume edition was released on 27 October 2011.

The two-volume work contains Tolkien’s unpublished drafts of the novel, with commentary by John D. Rateliff.[1] It also details Tolkien’s various revisions to The Hobbit, including abandoned revisions for the unpublished third edition of the work, intended for 1960, as well as previously unpublished original maps and illustrations drawn by Tolkien himself.[2]

Publication history[edit]

The History of The Hobbit: Volume I: Mr. Baggins. This contains the first half of Tolkien’s draft material for The Hobbit, along with commentary. It was published in the UK on 4 May 2007.

The History of The Hobbit: Volume II: Return to Bag-End, contains the last half of Tolkien’s original manuscript draft, with commentary and later drafts and appendices. It volume was published in the UK in July 2007.

Relationship to The History of Middle-earth[edit]

When Christopher Tolkien began publishing The History of Middle-earth, a twelve-volume series documenting J. R. R. Tolkien’s creative writing process in the creation of Middle-earth, with texts dating from the 1910s to the 1990s, he made a conscious decision not to issue a volume detailing the creation of The Hobbit. According to him, The Hobbit was not originally a part of the Middle-earth universe and was attached to his father's earlier, far darker legendarium only superficially, although the existence of The Hobbit forever altered the legendarium.

As Christopher Tolkien was not going to embark on a published study of The Hobbit, the task was given to Taum Santoski in the 1980s. Santoski had connections to the Marquette collection of Tolkien material, which is where the original manuscripts reside. He died in 1991, and ultimately the task passed to John Rateliff. Although Christopher Tolkien did not work directly on The History of The Hobbit, the work is in a very similar vein to the "literary archaeology" of his History of Middle-earth.[3]

Rateliff submitted a finished draft of the book to Christopher Tolkien, who, approving of the work, gave The History of The Hobbit his personal blessing to be published in association with his father’s other works.

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