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In anticipation of the 75th anniversary of the publication of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, Harper Collins has announced that it will be releasing 110 of Tolkien's original illustrations for the book, twenty of which are previously unpublished.  The illustrations were compiled into a book entitled The Art of The Hobbit, which will be released on October 27.  The drawings have been in Tolkien's archive at the Bodleian Library at Oxford, but were only recently 'discovered' by Harper Collins after the images were digitized. captionThe illustrations include line drawings in ink, watercolors and sketches, and contain "his conceptual sketches for the cover design, a couple of early versions of the maps and pages where he's experimenting with the runic forms, as well as a couple of manuscript pages", notes David Brawn, publisher of the new collection.  Brawn hopes that The Art of The Hobbit coupled with the upcoming anniversary will allow the spotlight to shine on "the book which started it all", as well as give novel insight into Tolkien and The Hobbit, his first book.  Of the The Art of The Hobbit, Brawn says,

"It shows that Tolkien's creativity went beyond the writing, that it was a fully thought out conception. When he writes about the hobbit hole , he's designed it as well. And by doing that, it makes his description more vivid ... Tolkien was an accomplished amateur artist. He was a great admirer of Arthur Rackham and you can see a little bit of that style coming through."

Also slated for publication this month are new editions of The Hobbit.  Harper Collins hopes that these new editions and the 75th anniversary will help bring attention back to the novel prior to the release of Peter Jackson's film next year.

Note:  The first edition of The Hobbit was published in September 1937, but Tolkien delivered the manuscript to publishers in October 1936, which is how Harpers Collins explains starting the 75th anniversary celebration early.    

Tolkien's Hobbit drawings published to mark 75th anniversary