The Hobbit is tolkien's most successful book. It established his name as an author and is a prequel to the longer novel "The Lord of the Rings". It was written for tolkien's children but his friend Elain thought so highly of the typescript that she suggested it be read by Susan Dagnall at George Allen and Unwin, who then published the book for the first time. It is illustrated with many black and white drawings penned by Tolkien himself.
The story follows the hobbit Bilbo Baggins in his perilous quest to reclaim the treasures taken from his fellow companions, the dwarves, by the dragon Smaug. From the moment of publication the book was an instant success; the mere 1,500 copies of the first edition selling out within a couple of months. It has since sold over 100 million copies and has been voted the most significant children's book of the century by the Library Association. There are also reports that a film of The Hobbit will be released in 2010.
Also included in the sale was the first foreign language edition of The Hobbit, translated into Swedish in 1947, which fetched £1,560. It had been expected to sell for £400-800. Again, this book was inscribed by Tolkien to Elaine Griffiths. The Hobbit has since been translated into nearly 50 different languages.
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