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1001 thehobbit
Added on 09th September 2020

Author J R R Tolkien
First published 1937
Publisher George Allen & Unwin Ltd

Bilbo Baggins, an unassuming hobbit, finds himself unexpectedly setting out on a dangerous quest to find a dragon.


Bilbo Baggins’ peaceful life is interrupted by Gandalf the wizard and thirteen dwarves who lure him on a dangerous quest to reclaim their treasure from a marauding dragon. As they encounter trolls, goblins, elves, giant spiders and a shapeshifting bear, Bilbo the home-loving hobbit discovers skills he never knew he had and wins a magical golden ring.

Why we chose it

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again has been described as ‘one of the best and most original fantasies ever written’. It contains powerful themes of courage and friendship, purpose and destiny, and has been credited with creating the modern mass market for children’s fantasy which runs through books, films, music, games and other popular culture.

Tolkien’s friend, C S Lewis, likened The Hobbit to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland because it contains different things that children and adults can enjoy.

Where it came from

The Hobbit began when Oxford professor John Ronald Reuel Tolkien grew tired of marking essays one evening, and idly jotted the famous opening line, ‘In a hole in the ground lived a hobbit.’ From this he spun the epic tale of Bilbo’s unexpected journey to the Lonely Mountain, based on his deep knowledge of mythology and ancient languages.

Initially created for his own children, the story drew on Tolkien’s ‘profound desire for dragons’ as a child. It was published because one of Tolkien’s students showed the story to Rayner Unwin, son of publisher Stanley Unwin, who gave it a glowing review.

Where it went next

The Hobbit was warmly received and widely translated and has sold 100 million copies. Peter Jackson’s three-part film adaptation brought it to an even wider audience.

Many popular fantasy authors including J K Rowling (Harry Potter) and George R R Martin (Game of Thrones) cite Tolkien as a major influence, and his famous fans range from The Beatles to Barach Obama.

Associated stories

The Hobbit paved the way for Tolkien’s trilogy, The Lord of the Rings, which began life as The New Hobbit, and was voted the UK’s favourite novel of all time.

Added on 09th September 2020

Author J R R Tolkien
First published 1937
Publisher George Allen & Unwin Ltd