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  LOTR celebrates its 50th birthday
Updated 29 July 2004, 13.02
Viggo Mortensen as Aragorn
It's 50 years since the first Lord of the Rings book was published.

On 29 July 1954, Allen & Unwin released the first book in the trilogy, The Fellowship of the Ring, with the next two coming out in the following months.

The book, which has been made into three smash films, was a follow-up to The Hobbit, and has sold millions of copies around the world.

It took 11 years to write, is about 1,000 pages long and has been translated into 40 different languages.

JRR Tolkien
JRR Tolkien

When it first came out, the publishers only printed 3,500 copies as they didn't think many people would buy it.

But in the US in 1965 alone, 100,000 pirate copies of the book were snapped up!

All in all, an estimated 100 million copies of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit have been sold worldwide, making them the most popular fiction books ever.

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