Big interest in rare signed Tolkien book
24 June 2002
A remarkable first edition of JRR Tolkien’s novel The Hobbit, inscribed by the author and thought to be the only copy from the family likely to be offered at auction, will be sold by Sotheby’s on July 12.
A Sotheby’s spokeswoman said today the sale is expected to draw interest from New Zealand because of its link with Peter Jackson’s hit movie the Lord of The Rings.
The book with its original pictorial dust jacket by Tolkien will be sold together with a loosely inserted manuscript of a runic alphabet in the author’s hand and is estimated to sell in the 30,000-50,000 ($NZ92,000-$153,000) range.
The presentation copy of The Hobbit, which reads “Aunt Jane from JRRT with love October 6th 1937”, was signed within a fortnight of the Hobbit’s publication.
Contemporary inscriptions in first editions of this title are rare, but the fact that the book belonged to Tolkien’s aunt – an important influence on the author’s personal and literary development – is particularly significant.
Emily Jane Suffield, Tolkien’s mother’s younger sister, played a crucial role in the courtship of the author’s parents as it was she who passed letters between the secretly engaged Mabel Suffield and Arthur Tolkien.
JRR Tolkien and his aunt established an early close relationship when in April 1904 he stayed with her when his mother was sick .
Tolkien kept in close contact with his aunt and in fact she was responsible in 1961 for asking her nephew for a book “…with Tom Bombadil at the heart of it…”
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil was published a year later.
Sotheby’s currently holds the world auction record for a first edition of The Hobbit in a dust jacket, when a copy sold for 27,850 in December 2001.
Other Tolkien related books and manuscripts in the sale include a letter from the author to Mrs Mumby responding to her son’s questions about The Lord of the Rings.
The letter, written on Hotel Miramar, Bournemouth, and 76 Sandfield Road, Oxford, headed paper and dated October 21, 1963, is estimated to fetch 6000-8000.