Tolkien News

Our Favorite Editions of ‘The Hobbit’

Everyone has particular copies of books that we cherish above others. Many of us here at Middle-earth News are pretty keen collectors of various volumes of works by and about J. R. R. Tolkien. We thought that Tolkien Week and Hobbit Day, this year celebrating the 80th anniversary of the publication of THe Hobbit, would be a perfect occasion for us to share with you the editions of The Hobbit that are nearest and dearest to our hearts.


I love the edition that I first read: the Ballantine paperback edition, printed in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The copy shown here is the first copy that I owned of that edition, but not the first one I read. I essentially appropriated my sisters’ volumes of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings  and read them over and over again. Eventually, my sister had enough of that, and gave me my beloved copies as a birthday present. Yes, it came to me on my birthday!

Valdis’ favorite ‘Hobbit’ edition: the Ballantine paperback from the early 1970s. Cover art by Barbara Remington. Photo credit: Valdis Longbeard.

Besides the obvious deeply sentimental connection to this edition, I really love the Barbara Remington cover art on this edition. I know that Tolkien hated the art, and that makes me sad, but it has vibrance and whimsy that really speak to me, even after all these years. I also love the “Statement from the Author” on the back cover. This edition was released right after the infamous unauthorized paperback editions. I think there may have been a little bit of a sore spot for the Professor!

The back cover from the Ballantine edition, complete with the “Statement from the Author” spurred by the unauthorized editions that were published shortly before this edition.


I’m not an actual Tolkien collector, but I somehow started buying different editions of The Hobbit lately. While the one with the replica of the original cover is still on my wishlist, I have to admit my very favorite is the edition with the art of Alan Lee. First of all, the cover is amazing, the gold foil details are impressive and the art is, as usual, a masterpiece. This book is dear to me also because the Italian Tolkien Society helped with the update of the Italian translation. The original one was very old and some names weren’t actually linking back to Tolkien’s original ones.

This was meant to be my “collector’s edition”, but I actually enjoy reading the story directly from this book, so it’s basically my new reading edition, even if it isn’t the ideal size to carry in a bag.

Alice’s favorite edition. Artwork by Alan Lee. Photo credit: Alice Greenleaf.


It’s difficult for me to choose a favorite edition of The Hobbit because I could go on forever about all the ones I love, but for now I’ll talk about the one with cover art by Donato Giancola. It was the first Hobbit I ever read from so it has that nostalgia factor, but me being a forgetful child, I lost the dust jacket. Luckily my friend Lily Milos found a copy with it and was kind enough to send it to me! I don’t have it in me to get rid of my “naked” copy so I keep them next to each other on my shelves.

There’s something so fantastical and traditional about Donato’s painting style that works so well with Tolkien’s works; I wish I could own illustrated editions full of his art.

Myla’s favorite edition. Cover art by Donato Giancola. Photo credit: Myla Malinalda

Do you have a favorite copy or edition of The Hobbit? Tell us about it in the comments! We’d love to hear from you!

And Happy Hobbit Day! May the hair on your toes be the envy of the neighborhood!


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  1. nice choices from all of you!

    i do have a soft spot for the harpercollins hardcover with tolkien’s original cover art on it, and featuring tolkien’s own illustrations inside.

    however, it is plagued by the ailment of all harpercollins/houghton-miffling tolkien editions i’ve had my hands on so far: the typesetting is middling at best, with some blunders in it being enough to disrupt my reading experience.

    so for the actual book, i have to say my fave is the folio edition one. while it doesn’t have tolkien’s own art, it still has good art that goes well both with the text and the general feel of the book. (it feels more crisp, if that makes sense)

  2. My brother got me a beautiful faux leather bound copy the Christmas after I went to see DOS in theaters. It as gold lettering on the cover and a map on the inside. I love it, but my Uncle’s large green hardcover with extra details, like a picture of french Gollum all fat on his boat, is also a special printing for me.