HarperCollins is publishing a brand new illustrated children’s edition of J R R Tolkien’s The Hobbit this autumn.
The new edition, illustrated by newcomer Jemima Catlin and published on 12th September, will be the first illustrated edition in 18 years—the last being Alan Lee’s award-winning edition in 1995.
The illustrated version is one of 10 new Hobbit tie-in titles HarperCollins is publishing this year for the UK cinema release of “The Desolation of Smaug” this December.
Estates publisher David Brawn said HarperCollins has “upped its game” with the Hobbit books this year now that the film franchise was well established, adding that there was a gap in the market for a classic children’s illustrated edition of the book. “Part of the responsibility of the publisher is to make sure that we’re not just promoting the film. We’re promoting the book and the classic nature of it,” he said.
“I really wanted to publish an edition of The Hobbit that was a bit like Winnie the Pooh—a lot of the classic children’s books have little pictures in the text that give you clues as to what’s going on in the story. I was really keen to do something for the classic treasury market which would also appeal to children, for whom the films are often too scary or too bombastic.”
As well as a £20 hardback edition, a £49.99 deluxe edition with a slipcase and foil jacket will be available. The book has been three years in the making; Brawn said he didn’t want to use a familiar artist in the style of Quentin Blake, but instead wanted to carve a career for an up-and-coming illustrator and find “the new Pauline Baines [who illustrated C S Lewis’ Narnia books] in her 20s”.
Aside from this edition, HarperCollins is publishing The Desolation of Smaug Annual 2014 (29th August, £7.99), the Visual Companion (7th November, £12.99), the Official Movie Guide (7th November, £19.99), the Movie Storybook (7th November, £6.99), Chronicles: Art and Design (12th December, £25), a paperback film tie-in edition of The Hobbit (7th November, £7.99), a pocket hardback edition (7th November, £9.99) and a new Sticker Activity Book (7th November, £4.99), which will replace last year’s children’s feature book The World of Hobbits. Also publishing on 26th September is a £8.99 pocket hardback edition of Roverandom, the first book Tolkien wrote for his children in 1925, as well as a 2014 calendar with Catlin’s illustrations.
Brawn said the titles have more text, more pictures and more storylines than last year’s portfolio of books, and he hoped this year’s selection would enhance the collectable aspect for the whole brand, which has enjoyed “spectacular growth” in the last 12 months. In the last six months, 650,000 print copies and a further 100,000 digital copies of The Hobbit sold in the UK.