HarperCollins to publish a new illustrated edition of The Hobbit
HarperCollins is to publish a new edition of J R R Tolkien’s The Hobbit featuring “a greatly enhanced” gallery of 50 paintings, maps and drawings by the author which formed his ‘home manuscript’ of the text. It will be the first new edition of The Hobbit since it was first published in 1937.
Chris Smith, publishing director, said: “Since it was first published in 1937, Tolkien’s The Hobbit has become a timeless classic, enchanting generations of readers around the world. Tolkien famously not only wrote the story, he illustrated it as well, and the 13 charming paintings and black and white illustrations he produced are as well-known as the story of Bilbo and his quest to reach the mountain lair of Smaug the Dragon.
“But this is only a part of the story. The tale of the little hobbit on a big adventure was first read by the professor to his children as part of their winter reads, using his ‘home manuscript’ of the story. Imagine hearing the tale told to you by its author, spun from golden yarn as he wove the adventure for you, thread by thread?
“Christopher Tolkien [the author’s son who died in 2020] recalls that special time in his foreword included in this new illustrated edition of The Hobbit, and leading Tolkien scholars Wayne G Hammond and Christina Scull add that, in this ‘home manuscript’, Tolkien would have been free to illustrate his story using any medium he wanted: coloured pencil, chalk, crayon, ink and washes, a far cry from the restrictions imposed by the publisher on the illustrations printed in the published book.
“Now, in this new edition, readers will at last be able to enjoy the full panoply of Tolkien’s paintings, drawings, maps and designs that richly capture the enchanted world of Bilbo Baggins.”
HarperCollins holds world rights in all languages for the works of JRR Tolkien and the new edition of The Hobbit will be published in September 2023, and subsequently in translation around the world.
The Hobbit was first published in 1937 and The Lord of the Rings in 1954–5. Each has since gone on to become a beloved classic of literature, making J R R Tolkien an international bestseller translated into more than 80 languages, selling more than 150 million copies worldwide.