There and Back Again: The Birth of an Epic Classic
The Hobbit was first published on this day (September 21st) in 1937, making it 75 years old today! Due to favorable reviews, the 1,500 original copies sold out by December.
When I first started reading The Hobbit, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. All I knew was what my friend, Laura, said to me, “You haven’t read The Hobbit? You need to read it right now.” And so I did. For those of you who have read it, you’ll know the power it holds over its reader. You become fully immersed in Middle Earth, in awe of everything Bilbo is introduced to (mostly unwillingly), and can even feel your stomach starting to growl when he goes on and on about the contents of his pantry cupboards. Just like in The Lord of the Rings, we are surrounded by a wide variety of characters: dwarves, elves, hobbits, goblins, giant eagles, men, and even some familiar characters – Elrond, Gandalf, Gollum, and of course Bilbo. Oh, and did I mention the dragon?
My first reading took place way back in 1999; two years before the first LOTR film was released. In order to satiate my hunger for visuals, I watched the original, cartoon version from way back in 1977. What an amazing time the 70s must have been – you have to see it to believe it.
I honestly don’t even know why I’m telling you about it, go read it for yourself. And you’d better hurry, you have to read it before the movie is released… But don’t worry, you only have to read the first half of the book because it’s been split into two feature films: The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey and The Hobbit: There and Back Again.
Did you know?
Some fun facts about The Hobbit:
In the original edition, Gollum willingly bets the ring and parts amicably from Bilbo.
Bilbo Baggins was 51½ years old when he leaves on his initial adventure, and Elrond was already thousands of years old.
The Hobbit takes place 60 years before The Lord of the Rings.
Tolkien had an aunt whose farm was nicknamed Bag-End.
There are three main kinds of hobbit: Harfoots, Fallowhides and Stoors.
The Misty Mountains are about 1440km long – nearly the length of New Zealand!
Tolkien never mentioned elves having pointed ears.
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