Tuesday, November 25, 2014


So, yesterday I was surprised by the arrival of a package from England, which turned out to contain an advance copy of my newest publication: an abridged and updated one-volume edition of my massive (thousand-page) HISTORY OF THE HOBBIT. This trimmed down version contains the entire draft manuscript of THE HOBBIT (1930-1932/33), plus the rewritten Gollum chapter (1944 & '47), plus the '1960 Hobbit'. Having heard that some found the size of the full version intimidating, I've been able to shorten the book by cutting back on my commentary, focusing on the most important points rather than exploring all the related by-ways. And of course as always with each new edition I've made corrections and added important new information where possible -- e.g., to the discussion over whether Sinclair Lewis's BABBIT influenced Tolkien's creation of the word 'hobbit' I've added proof that Tolkien was familiar with Lewis's work. I also spent a lot of time improving the index, which is now much shorter. Here's a link to the book's description as it appears on the publisher's website


and here's another to its entry on amazon.co.uk


N.B. Both these entries give the book as being 592 pages long; actually it's somewhat shorter than that, coming in 542 pages (not counting the index).

The official released date is January 15th.  I'm really looking forward to it -- I'm hoping this new, slimmer edition helps introduce more people to Tolkien's original draft version of the book, and shows them how he put the book together. And, in short, to follow the footsteps of a great writer and see how he created a masterpiece.

--John R.


Zenopus Archives said...

Thank you for the info. I have the original two volume set & your work is one of the inspirations for my blog series on J. Eric Holmes' manuscript for the original D&D Basic Set rulebook.

John D. Rateliff said...

Dear Zenopus

Thanks for the link; looks like an interesting project. It's always interesting, in a multi-decade multi-author project like the creation of D&D, to see a specific innovation tied to a particular creator. Hope we see more projects like yours.

--John R.