I had no particular plans for my book collection this year other than attempting to finish my American collection of Brian Jacques first editions and a reading set of the History of Middle Earth. But lately it seems a few Hobbits have been making their way to my bookcase. I recently read a wonderful article by Neil Gaiman where he discussed C.S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien and his much-loved and battered copies of books he’d had since childhood. I have no such creased and read-to-death copy of the Hobbit from my childhood. I actually can’t remember the first copy I read. But on exploring the contents of my bookcase and ever-growing collection of Tolkien I could easily remember where I bought or was given each copy. So this is my collection of Hobbits in the order I acquired them.
This is the first copy of The Hobbit I purchased for myself, published by Harper Collins in 1997. It is part of a boxed set with Lord of the Rings, illustrated by Alan Lee. This is one of my favourite illustrations from this edition
And this is the boxed set I paid an absolute fortune for in 1997. However this is not the original copy of Lord of the Rings that came with it…
Every time I opened my copy of Lord of the Rings I heard an ominous and horrifying cracking sound. After doing some research I found out Harper Collins had used some cheap and nasty glue for this particular edition. I was, in the end, petrified to open it as it was literally going to pieces in my hands. Eventually I replaced it with a newer copy. The Hobbit, however, was much admired and flicked-trough. Not read,however. I needed to buy reading copies.
Next I purchased this paperback copy published by Allen and Unwin in 1974 from my favourite tiny used book store in Cheltenham. I can’t quite remember the name, but Steve used to run it, and it was crammed full of sci-fi and fantasy books. This copy has an illustration by Tolkien on the cover. I have read this one many times but the binding is starting to go, so this year I read my other copy.
Published by Allen and Unwin 1975. I got this one from Diversity Books when they were still in Mordialloc, which has colour illustrations in it, and this year is the first time I have actually taken it off the shelf to read it. This is now my yearly reading copy.