HarperCollins is to release a brand new edition of The Lord of the Rings featuring, for the first time since its publication in 1954, paintings, drawings and sketches by J R R Tolkien.
The publisher was granted world rights by the Tolkien Estate for the new edition, for publication in October 2021. It will be released simultaneously in North America by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and subsequently in translation around the world.
Chris Smith, deputy publishing director, explained: “Like many young readers, I was enthralled by his charming and evocative illustrations that accompanied The Hobbit. These paintings, particularly the now-iconic image that appears on its cover, have become as beloved as the story they accompany.
‘Yet the author himself was characteristically modest, dismissive of the obvious and rare artistic talent he possessed despite having had no formal training. This modesty meant that relatively little else of his artwork was known of or seen during his lifetime, and generally only in scholarly books afterwards.”
Smith said that changed in 2018, with the first of three record-breaking Tolkien exhibitions in Oxford, New York and Paris. Among the exhibits was a selection of paintings, drawings and sketches Tolkien produced when writing The Lord of the Rings.
He said: “Originally intended by him purely for his personal pleasure and reference, after such an overwhelmingly positive response by people to Tolkien the artist it seemed fitting to finally reunite this art with the words it enhances, and we are delighted that in so doing it will allow people to enjoy this masterpiece anew.”
The Hobbit was first published in 1937 and The Lord of the Rings from 1954 to 1955. The books have been translated into more than 70 languages, collectively selling more than 150 million copies worldwide, according to the publisher.