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Bilbo and Frodo happened to have the same birthday, September 22nd. ‘You had better come and live here, Frodo my lad,’ said Bilbo one day; ‘and then we can celebrate our birthday-parties comfortably together.’  (Lord of the Rings, chapter 1).

Listen to Tolkien talking about the original “flash point” for the writing of The Hobbit:

Tolkien also designed the book jacket for the first edition, pictured below.

Hobbit dust jacket

Here is the book cover of the edition that I first read as a teenager, illustrated with a drawing by Tolkien.

The Hobbit. 1966

The Hobbit book cover, Unwin Books, 1966. TolkienBooks.net

Since its first publication in 1937, The Hobbit has been reprinted many times and translated in 110 editions in 64 languages, according to Tolkien book collector Yvan Strelz. Check out his amazing collection of translations on his website, Elrond’s Library. You’ll find editions in languages from Albanian to Yiddish, and the book covers are fascinating in themselves. Do you remember what your first edition of The Hobbit looked like? Or if you’re a recent first-time reader of The Hobbit, did you pick your edition by the cover?