Published: June 8, 2015
LONDON — On June 4 at Sotheby’s, a first edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit from 1937 sold for a new world record price of $211,000, more than doubling its presale estimate. The price it fetched beat the previous auction record for The Hobbit of $75,000 in 2008. Presented as a gift from the author to one of his first students at Leeds University in the 1920s, Miss Katherine (“Kitty”) Kilbride (1900-1966), it is inscribed with a handwritten note in Elvish by the British author — a language he invented. Tolkien continued to send letters, cards and books to Kilbride throughout his life. Kilbride was, recalled her nephew, “…an invalid all her life and was much cheered by his [Tolkien’s] chatty letters and cards. …books were given to her as they were published.” Kilbride’s letter of acknowledgement for the present volume is preserved in the Tolkien papers in the Bodleian Library. She notes, “what fun you must have had drawing out the maps.” The Hobbit introduced characters such as Bilbo Baggins, who would re-appear in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was turned into a hugely successful fantasy film series by director Peter Jackson.
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