Art and Literature News

Soviet-era Illustrations of The Hobbit


Cover art of 1976 Soviet edition of The Hobbit. Photo from

So many people talk about their childhood memories of The Hobbit. For some, that memory is about being read to by a loved one, while for others The Hobbit was the first full book they read on their own. For Ilia Blinderman, The Hobbit made such an impression because it was so very different from the Russian fairy tales and children’s stories that he had experienced. He reports in an article on Open Culture that his own copy of Tolkien’s story had no illustrations, but his friend’s edition was filled with illustrations in a traditional Russian style.


Bilbo battles the giant spiders of Mirkwood while the hapless dwarves dangle from a nearby branch, in the 1976 Soviet edition. Photo from

These almost cartoonish illustrations are very different from Tolkien’s illustrations, but have their own charm. It is fascinating to look at these intriguing illustrations, and the different vision of Middle-earth that they present.


Bilbo tiptoes by a snoozing Smaug, in the 1976 Soviet edition of The Hobbit. Photo from credits the pictures in this 1976 edition of the book to M. Belomlinskij. An extensive collection of images of the illustrations can be found in this 2010 post on English Russia. Maria’s recent story on Middle-earth News, “Hobbit Book Covers Through the Years” included the cover of this Soviet-era edition of The Hobbit, along with a number of other wonderful cover designs.

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  1. I love this version so much! A dream would come true if I could get my hand on a copy of it!