Go, Little Book
On Sunday we completed work on The Art of The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien and uploaded related files to HarperCollins – one day before our June 6th deadline. We’re very pleased with the result as it appears on screen, and look forward to seeing it in print.
HarperCollins have set a publication date of 27 October 2011 for their edition, with a list price of £25. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will be taking the book in the U.S.A., but have not yet said when their edition will be published. Nor have we heard yet about any foreign-language editions, but we hope that The Art of The Hobbit will have a wide audience in translation as well as in English.
Although online listings of our book at this writing (as at Amazon U.K.) say that it will have 128 pages, in fact it will have 144, including four gatefolds. The page size is 10 x 10 inches. There are more than 100 pictures, including all of the art by Tolkien for The Hobbit as far as it’s known to us, and all of it in colour. HarperCollins have designed a splendid binding, and will be publishing the book in a decorated slipcase.
Here’s a sample from our introduction:
This book, with the help of maps, does not need any illustrations it is good and should appeal to all children between the ages of 5 and 9.
The book in question was The Hobbit, and the judgement was by Rayner Unwin, the ten-year-old son of Stanley Unwin, who was considering Tolkien’s story for publication. In 1936, at his father’s request, Rayner read The Hobbit in typescript and returned an enthusiastic report. For this he was paid a shilling – the best shilling George Allen & Unwin ever spent, Rayner would later say, since it led to the publication of one of the firm’s most successful books, and in turn to an enormously popular sequel, The Lord of the Rings.
Rayner’s comment that The Hobbit should include maps may have been suggested by the presence with the typescript of one of those Tolkien had drawn to accompany his story; or it may already have been agreed between Tolkien and Allen & Unwin that maps would be needed, as aids to the reader, should The Hobbit be published. But Rayner’s view that the work did not need illustrations – a nod, maybe, to the publisher’s perennial desire to control costs – ultimately was not shared by its author. For even though The Hobbit had been submitted originally with only one image (probably a version of Thror’s Map, which is mentioned in the text), it was a more fully illustrated book as it was read by (or to) family and friends, and Tolkien wished it to remain so when it was presented to a wider audience. . . .