First edition of ‘The Hobbit' sells for £137,000

The previous world record for a copy of the Hobbit was £50,000 set in 2008.

J.R.R. Tolkein gave 'The Hobbit' as a gift to a student

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First edition of ‘The Hobbit’ sells for £137,000

Today, at  Sotheby’s in London, a first edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s ‘The Hobbit’ from 1937 sold for a new world record  price of £137,000, more than doubling its pre-sale estimate of £50,000-70,000.

Presented as a gift from the author to one of his first students at Leeds University in the 1920s, Miss Katherine (“Kitty”) Kilbride, it is inscribed with a handwritten note from the author in Elvish (please see below). The author continued to send letters, cards and books to her throughout his life.

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The previous world record for a copy of the Hobbit was £50,000 set in 2008.

Kitty Kilbride

The recipient of this copy was Miss Katherine (“Kitty”) Kilbride (1900-1966) who had been one of Tolkien’s first students at Leeds University in the 1920s. Kitty 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”.

Her set of The Lord of the Rings (inscribed to “C.M. Kilbride”) was also sold at auction by Sotheby’s in London on 19 July 19, 1982,  and, later, Sotheby’s New York, December 10-11, 1993.

An autograph postcard to her, dated December 24, 1926, was sold at Bonham’s,  June 12, 2012. Kilbride’s letter of acknowledgement for the present volume is preserved in the Tolkien papers in the Bodleian Library (MS.Tolkien 21, f.66). She notes “what fun you must have had drawing out the maps”.

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