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“one of the great acts of mythic creation of our century” – Bleiler on The Lord of the Rings

TOLKIEN, J. R. R. (English) The Lord of the Rings

London: George Allen and Unwin, 1954-1955

Three volumes. Folding map in each volume. Return of the King is second state with sig. 4 and slipped type on p. 49 (this was formerly Hammond’s first state, but the bibliographer has revised his opinion). Original red cloth and printed dust jackets. Bookplate. Fine in very good fine dust jackets with slight wear, minor stains, tanning to the spines. An attractive set.

FIRST EDITIONS, FIRST PRINTINGS. This is a very attractive set of the celebrated Lord of the Rings trilogy. The size of the edition was small: The Fellowship of the Ring (3000 copies), The Two Towers (3250 copies), and The Return of the King (7000 copies).

Tolkien worked on this epic, not so much a trilogy as a long novel, from the publication of The Hobbit (1937) until the early 1950s. Beginning with the appearance of the second edition of 1966 and the nearly simultaneous appearance of the paperback edition in America, The Lord of the Rings became one of the best-selling works of fiction of the century.

This is the “paradigmatic work of modern heroic fantasy. . . . Its success was not immediate, but its publication in paperback was an event sufficiently momentous to transform completely the market situation of heroic fantasy, and hence bring about a new era in its history. The Lord of the Rings made fantasy a significant publishing category and inspired a deluge of new works. The astonishing reception and influence of this work qualify it as one of the most remarkable literary phenomena of the 20th century” (Barron, ed., Fantasy Literature).