J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is one of the best-known and best-loved fantasy books. First published by George Allen & Unwin in 1937, The Hobbit has been translated into over 50 different languages and sold well over 100 million copies.
The Hobbit was written by Professor Tolkien for the reading pleasure of his own children, of whom Christopher became the editor of Tolkien’s posthumous work such as The Silmarillion and The Book of Lost Tales.
This is a far more light-hearted tale than the Lord of the Rings and introduces to the world the unforgettable Bilbo, Gandalf, and Gollum. The Hobbit is a book that can be enjoyed by children and adults alike and authors from J.K. Rowling to David Gemmell class it as an inspiration upon their own work.
A book full of adventure, heroism, song, and laughter, featuring landscapes that are quintessentially English – the Shire the Hobbits inhabit could easily be an England of yesteryear. But soon the Shire is left behind and Bilbo, our reluctant hero, encounters Dwarves, Elves, Goblins, Eagles, and Wizards as the party passes through Rivendell, The Misty Mountains, and Mirkwood on their way to the Lonely Mountain, in order to take back treasure stolen by the great dragon Smaug.
One of the most appealing aspects of The Hobbit is that we can all find our inner-Hobbit; the part of us that wants nothing by an easy and comfortable life. But there is still something inside all of us that perks up at the thought of adventure and a journey into the unknown and I think this is why The Hobbit is such a firm favorite and fondly remembered by all who read it.
The mother of our particular hobbit – what is a hobbit? I suppose hobbits need some description nowadays since they have become rare and shy of the Big People, as they call us. They are (or were) a little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded dwarves. Hobbits have no beards. There is little or no magic about them, except the ordinary everyday sort which helps them to disappear quietly and quickly when large stupid folk like you and me come blundering along, making a noise like elephants which they can hear a mile off. They are inclined to be fat in the stomach; they dress in bright colors (chiefly green and yellow); wear no shoes, because their feet grow natural leather soles and thick brown hair like the stuff on their heads (which is curly); have long clever brown fingers, good-natured faces, and laugh deep fruity laughs (especially after dinner which they have twice a day when they can get it).
From: The Hobbit – Chapter: An Unexpected Party
I would suggest reading the illustrated version if you have the choice, the artwork by Alan Lee* is so good that it manages to improve a story that is already fabulous.