The Hobbit for the first time when my eighth grade lit class spent an entire semester exploring science fiction and fantasy novels. I especially remember loving the conversational tone of The Hobbit, the elements of adventure, and the way Tolkien manages to build a complete world in a few hundred pages.
Recently, I discovered The Art of the Hobbit, by Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull, which features the artwork of the first edition of The Hobbit. While flipping through the pages, I found a complete collection of every sketch, drawing, painting, and map that was created in preparation for the first edition of The Hobbit. To my delight, I quickly learned that Tolkien himself was responsible for all of the book’s artwork, including the dust jacket, binding, and cover designs. Authors Hammond and Scull present each illustration with accompanying descriptions from the text as well as commentary regarding the creation, publication, and reception of each image. Images are arranged in order of when they occur throughout the story. I was especially impressed by how much control Tolkien was given over the visual components of the book. The Art of the Hobbit is a treat for fans – it is an interesting peek into the relationship between a beloved fantasy author, his publisher, and the work as a whole.