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BBC article - Tolkien letter reveals poor sales of The Hobbit


Oct 16 2012, 3:26pm

Post #1 of 4 (224 views)
BBC article - Tolkien letter reveals poor sales of The Hobbit Can't Post


A letter from JRR Tolkien to Swallows and Amazons writer Arthur Ransome has revealed the author's concerns about sales of The Hobbit.


I wonder what he would say today with the release of The Hobbit being released. Whether the Tolkien Estate like the films or not, they must be so happy that Tolkien's stories are loved by millions.

Want Hobbit Movie News? Hobbit Headlines of the Week!

Tol Eressea

Oct 16 2012, 5:51pm

Post #2 of 4 (101 views)
It's nice to see a glimpse of the original - [In reply to] Can't Post

- the letter has been known for some time; Tolkien mentions Ransome's interest in his work in a p.s. to Letter no. 20 (December 1937). As it happens, Letter 20 is to Mr Furth of Allen & Unwin, who'd written to say that demand for The Hobbit had become so acute that they had to rush the reprint through!

I think JRR was just being modest...


The Shire

Oct 17 2012, 3:26am

Post #3 of 4 (92 views)
To take this further, [In reply to] Can't Post

I think JRR was just being modest

Or maybe a little pessimistic, or tired after a busy autumn, and he was unwell. If Tolkien had waited another day to reply to Ransome, though, no doubt his letter would have been different.

15 December 1937: Tolkien replies to Arthur Ransome's letter of 13 December (all of the Tolkien-Ransome exchange is published in the volume of Ransome's letters, Signalling from Mars), commenting that 'sales are not very great' of The Hobbit - as Tolkien wrongly thought, apparently not having had a recent report from his publisher.

15 December: But on that same day, Stanley Unwin writes to Tolkien to say that the first printing of The Hobbit had sold out, and a reprint with colour illustrations (which Tolkien had made for the American edition) would be available shortly. Tolkien would have received the letter late on the 15th or on the 16th.

17 December: C.A. Furth likewise informs Tolkien that Allen & Unwin are rushing a reprint.

17 December: Also on this date, Ransome writes again to Tolkien, again praising The Hobbit and saying 'as for new editions . . . there will be dozens of them: of that I have no doubt whatever'.

19 December: Tolkien replies to Furth with pleasure about the new printing, and that he has started a new story about hobbits.

How quickly his outlook changed!

Wayne & Christina

Tol Eressea

Oct 17 2012, 6:32pm

Post #4 of 4 (152 views)
Ah, thanks for that, Findegil - [In reply to] Can't Post

- always a treat to see you here, and elsewhere on the interweb. Smile

Of course, sales of TH were not all that great by today's standards - what was it, fifteen hundred copies in the first print run? Things have picked up since!


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