The world of literature is peppered with the names of wonderful authors, those who are considered to be all-time greats. Names like King, Rowling, and Martin will surely go down in history as some of the most important and influential writers of all time. But there is one name we think should top those. One name that stands out as an influence for almost every major author of the modern era – Tolkien.
J.R.R. Tolkien is one of the best and most important authors in the world of literature. His defining works include The Hobbit, and magnum opus The Lord of the Rings. It’s clear that Tolkien was a major influence on J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter novels, and The Hobbit remains one of the best-loved children’s fantasy novels of all time. Here are some amazing things you never knew about Tolkien’s acclaimed children’s classic.
It started with 10 words
In the early 1930s, J.R.R. Tolkien was pursuing a career as an academic at Oxford University in England – the institution he had attended as a young man. He had always had an interest in writing and had enjoyed the publishing of a few of his poems and shorter works of fiction. One fine summer’s day in 1930, Tolkien was busy poring over exam papers, when he suddenly had a lightbulb moment. Reaching for a blank page, he suddenly found himself writing “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.” Unclear as to what exactly it meant, Tolkien resolved to put it to one side, and revisit it later, and so the first seeds of the legendary book were sown.
Its fate rested in the hands of a child
Much like the future of Harry Potter, which would be more widely broadcast in later years, the fate of The Hobbit lay in the hands of a child. Indeed, Sir Stanley Unwin, the founder of Allen & Unwin publishers was given a copy of the manuscript. He passed it on to his 10-year-old son Rayner, for it was a children’s book. On the strength of the young boy’s glowing review, Unwin made the decision to publish the novel. And the rest, as they say, is history!
Initial hopes were modest
In spite of the sensational review Rayner gave the book, Unwin still had modest expectations for the novel. The original print run that was ordered was 1,500 copies in September 1937, and it was expected that the novel might shift two-thirds. These copies sold out by December of that same year and were met with enthusiastic reviews. It was then that Unwin realized he had struck gold. The book has since sold more than 100 million copies and is considered one of the greatest fantasy novels of all time, and it has never been out of print.
There are so many facts and wonderful anecdotes about this iconic book, and it would take us several detailed pages to list them all. But, we feel like these are the best facts about The Hobbit that we have found. They capture the matter-of-fact fashion with which the seed was planted, and they showcase just how the book became so wildly successful. If you’ve never read this children’s classic, we recommend you digit out, it’s ideal for readers of any age range.