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The History of The Hobbit  
Author J. R. R. Tolkien & John D. Rateliff
Language English
Publisher HarperCollins in the UK Houghton Mifflin in the USA
Publication date 2007
Media type Print

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 UK, with both volumes released in the United States by Houghton Mifflin on September 21, 2007; a boxed set combining The Hobbit with The History of The Hobbit was released on October 26, 2007.

The two-volume work contains Tolkien’s previously unpublished original drafts of the novel, accompanied by commentary written by John D. Rateliff.[1] It also details Tolkien’s various revisions to The Hobbit, including abandoned revisions for the unpublished third edition of the work, intended for 1960, as well as previously unpublished original maps and illustrations drawn by Tolkien himself.[2]


Two parts

The first volume is titled 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. This volume was published in the UK May 4, 2007.

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

Relationship to The History of Middle-earth

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 1920s to the 1970s, 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. The tone of The Hobbit is much lighter and more appropriate to a children’s tale than that of J. R. R. Tolkien’s other writings.

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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