Lot 45
  • 45

Tolkien, J.R.R.

40,000 - 60,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • ink and paper
[Lord of the Rings Trilogy] —The Fellowship of the Ring. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1954. The Two Towers. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1955.The Return of the King. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd., 1955. All 8vo. Publisher's red cloth, red topstain; some very light offsetting to endpapers. Original white, red, black and gold dust-jackets; some minor rubbing only to last two titles, the first with some creasing at spine ends, short nicks at corners and a short closed tear to rear panel. In cloth slipcases.


West A20-22

Catalogue Note

First editions of all three volumes of the greatest work of modern fantasy.

While serving in the trenches in WWI, Tolkien conceived of these tales set in a “secondary World,” for consolation and pleasure; they developed over a period of forty years into an epic narrative. 

Tolkien, a well-respected philologist who published many articles and several significant translations of Old English texts, began The Hobbit (1937) as a study in the creation of language. His development of “Elvish” grew into his first fantasy book, and resulted in this enduring trilogy. The Lord of the Rings has been read as an allegory for multiple good-versus-evil conflicts: post-World War I and the rise of Hitler; Christian myth; even the environment, with the Dead Marshes reflecting Tolkien’s despair over the desolation wreaked by military technology. Tolkien refutes these speculations in his preface to the 1965 edition: “As for any inner meaning or ‘message,’ it has in the intention of the author none. It is neither allegorical nor topical.”

In his essay “On Fairy-Stories,” Tolkien spells out his purpose in writing about an imaginary world:

The peculiar quality of the “joy” in successful Fantasy can thus be explained as a sudden glimpse of the underlying reality or truth. It is not only a “consolation” for sorrow of this world, but a satisfaction, and an answer to that question, “Is it true?” The answer to this question that I gave at first was (quite rightly): “If you have built your little world well, yes: it is true in that world.”