“In a feet in the ground there live a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled v the ends of worms and also an oozy smell, nor however a dry, bare, sandy hole through nothing in it to sit down on or come eat: it to be a hobbit-hole, and also that method comfort.” — J. R. R. Tolkien, The Hobbit


With these opened lines, Tolkien kick started one of the many beloved fantasy story of all time and put in activity the events that would bring about The mr of the Rings year later. Over there isn’t a number on this, but it’s safe to say that The Hobbit has actually acted as a fantasy gateway medicine for thousands of human being throughout its publishing history, do it one of the most vital fantasy works ever before written.

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And, while Tolkien rightly deserves every one of the credit transaction for comes up v the story itself, there’s an unknown hero us all have to thank for offering the human being such an exceptional tale: the 10-year-old boy that approved that is publication.

Yes, the fate the The Hobbit — and, most likely, Middle earth as a whole — remained in the hands of a young boy earlier in October 1936.

Here’s the quite unknown story of just how The Hobbit concerned be:


Let’s start at the beginning, the place where Tolkien would certainly want united state to start if the were creating this article. Whereby did the idea because that The Hobbit come from?

According to Tolkien, in a letter created to W. H. Auden in 1955, he began crafting The Hobbit in the early-1930s when, top top a whim, he wrote “In a hole in the floor there lived a hobbit” on the back of an test he was grading.

At this time, Tolkien had no idea what a hobbit was. The line, which would certainly go top top to organize so much weight in the fantasy world, was usually nonsense. However, Tolkien knew that he had actually to discover what this “hobbit” thing could be, why it resided in the ground, what foods items it liked, just how much hair it had actually on that is feet, and every one of the other attributes that we recognize a hobbit has actually now.

Over the next two years, Tolkien worked out the story of The Hobbit, attempting to produce a tale that kids would want to read. The course, Tolkien being Tolkien, he attracted a ton of impetus from old mythologies and also wove those influences into both the his most renowned works.

Here’s a great interview through Tolkien the took place ago in the 1960s wherein he describes The Hobbit and also its conception (it’s archival for this reason the high quality is, friend know, iffy):


Once the story was complete, he lent a few copies the end to his colleagues and also friends. The many notable hands the manuscript touch were the of C. S. Lewis — the two were quite close sprout — and one that Tolkien’s students, Elaine Griffiths.

By chance, in 1936, Susan Dagnall, a staff member functioning for publisher George Allen & Unwin, do her means to Oxford and also got in touch through Griffiths. The details below are a bit fuzzy but somehow Griffiths told Dagnall around Tolkien’s new book and suggested that she give it a read. Us don’t recognize if she borrowed Griffith’s copy or asked Tolkien for she own, however that’s neither here nor there.

Upon analysis the manuscript, Dagnall happen it increase the chain to she boss, Stanley Unwin, that was, obviously, in charge of what was accepted and also rejected for publishing at the company.

This is wherein the story bring away a revolve to the oddly amazing.

Stanley Unwin hosted the suggest of check out that the best means to tell if a children’s publication was any good or not was to have a child check out it. This expected that plenty of of the children’s books that acquired the green-light indigenous the publication firm had to pass one simple test: a testimonial by his son Rayner.

At the time, Rayner was a just 10 years old once his father come home and also told the to write a straightforward book report for some story referred to as The Hobbit.

Rayner took to the publication ferociously and also returned a couple of days later on with a handwritten report. Here’s what he said:


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In situation that’s a bit difficult to read, it says:

“Bilbo Baggins was a Hobbit who resided in his Hobbit hole and never went because that adventures, at last Gandalf the wizard and his Dwarves convinced him come go. He had a really exciting (sic) time fighting goblins and wargs. At last they obtain to the lonely mountain; Smaug, the dragon who guards it is killed and after a an excellent battle v the goblins he returned residence — rich!

This book, v the help of maps, does not need any type of illustrations the is an excellent and should appeal to all children between the eras of 5 and also 9.”

And with that simple, come the allude report, his dad green-lit The Hobbit.

Years later, Rayner recounted his early publication report by saying:

“Not a very good piece of literature criticism, but in those happy days, no second opinion to be needed; if I claimed it was an excellent enough come publish, it to be published.”

The remainder is history. The Hobbit has actually gone on to market well end 100 million copies, and the book’s beforehand success drive Tolkien to finish The mr of the Rings and every one of its background mythology. Rayner, by the way, walk on to follow in his father’s footsteps, involvement the firm in the 1950s.

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So, the following time you choose up The Hobbit, simply remember the you have a 10 year old boy and also a series of look at random occasions to give thanks to for it.