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The Art of The Hobbit

April 10, 2011

detail from Hobbit dust-jacket by Tolkien

Those among you who looked forward to The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide and grumbled as it went past its announced publication dates, appearing at last three years after it was first expected (but also at twice its original projected length), will find it ironic that we are having to complete our latest book by early June 2011, less than five months after it was begun.

The book, we are now able to say, as it will be promoted this week at the London Book Fair, is The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. This large-format, full-colour volume will contain more than 100 paintings and drawings produced by Tolkien to illustrate The Hobbit, or made by him for other purposes but which served as models or inspiration for his Hobbit art. More than two dozen of these pictures are previously unpublished, and many have never before been printed in colour. We will provide an introduction and brief explanatory texts, as well as lay out the art and captions.

HarperCollins U.K. approached us with this commission towards the end of January, and we got to work right away. The project is time-sensitive, as it will be part of a larger publishing initiative commemorating the 75th anniversary of the first publication of The Hobbit in 1937. More specifically, it is meant to celebrate the author’s own enduring visions of Bilbo Baggins, Smaug, Bag-End, the Misty Mountains, and other characters and places known to readers around the world.

We have, of course, already written about Tolkien’s art for The Hobbit in J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator (1995), and reproduced many of the related pictures; and we wrote about The Hobbit also in the Companion and Guide. So we have a base of knowledge to work with, which HarperCollins and the Tolkien Estate appreciated when they gave us this opportunity. But always, when looking at Tolkien’s work, we see further aspects, and will bring some fresh thoughts to our latest text.

We have not yet heard a definite publication date from our editors in London, nor are the design of the book and its number of pages absolutely firm at this point. We’ll post further details as soon as we have them.

Image: Detail from Tolkien’s dust-jacket design for The Hobbit (copyrighted, all rights reserved).

  1. Rodrigo Bergamaschi de Azevedo permalink
    April 11, 2011 12:43 pm

    Hi! This book looks very promising! I loved ‘J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist & Illustrator’ and am sure I will appreciate ‘The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien’!

    Ah! I have sent you an e-mail concerning ‘The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion’ and the dust-jacket to ‘The Two Towers’ on March 30. Did you receive it?

    Best wishes!

    • April 13, 2011 10:08 am

      Thanks for your comments, Rodrigo. We did get your e-mail, and are working on a reply.

  2. April 12, 2011 2:39 am

    Wonderful to hear – you will do it proud! (please excuse the vernacular!!).

  3. April 12, 2011 1:59 pm

    Very exciting, and congratulations on what is certain to be another stellar contribution to Tolkien studies. Really looking forward to this!

    • April 13, 2011 10:17 am

      We’re gratified by the response our announcement is getting, both in the number of blog hits – far beyond our old record – and in how the word has spread to other sites. We’ll try to post more information soon.

  4. April 25, 2011 10:09 am

    This is truly good news. I know all about “time sensitive” projects – but somehow it works best for me. Hope you find the time and energy to bring us the book you wish to bring. It is indeed an honor for you, but even more so for us to have you two work on this book! It looks very promising and is a book that will for certain be bought by many, and this time I believe not only by ‘hard core’ Tolkien fans… I so enjoyed the “Artist & Illustrator” that I’m sure this will once again be a book to treasure! Thanks so much!

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