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Tolkien's Hobbit fetches 60,000

18 March 08 16:09 GMT

A 1937 first edition of JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit has been sold at auction to an anonymous bidder for £60,000 - twice what it was expected to reach.

The Hobbit was Tolkien's most successful book, establishing his name as an author, and came before the longer Lord Of The Rings trilogy.

Maps, photographs and manuscripts were also on sale at Bonhams in London.

The copy of The Hobbit is inscribed to Tolkien's friend Elaine Griffiths, who had originally helped get it published.

Tolkien had intended the book for his children but after reading it, Ms Griffiths recommended it to publishers George Allen & Unwin.

Favourite tree

The first edition of 1,500 quickly sold out and it has since sold more than 100 million copies worldwide.

The auction also included the first foreign language edition of The Hobbit, translated into Swedish in 1947, which fetched £1,560. It had been expected to reach £400 to £800.

The last known photograph of Tolkien, taken by his grandson Michael on 9 August 1973, was sold for £864.

The photograph - which was expected to fetch up to £600 - shows the author in the Oxford Botanical Gardens leaning against his favourite tree, the Black Pine he named Laocoon.

It was a gift to Elaine Griffiths from Tolkien's daughter Priscilla, who wrote on the back "For Elaine with love from Priscilla".

Tolkien, who was raised in Birmingham, spent most of his life as an academic in Oxford, before retiring to Dorset with his wife, Edith.

After she died he sold up and moved back to Oxford.

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