London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd, 1954-55. First edition. First impressions, of the greatest fantasy trilogy of the modern era. 3 volumes, octavo. Original red cloth, spines lettered in gilt, top edges red. With the dust jackets. 3 folding maps after Christopher Tolkien, printed in red and black. Ownership stamps on front pastedown in volumes one and three. Spines and some corners slightly bumped, toning to endpapers as usual, slight leaning to spines; a crisp and near-fine set. Some light toning to dust jackets, extremities slightly worn with short tears and minor loss, minor damp staining to spine of volume two; a very good and attractive set of unclipped and unrestored jackets. Attractive copies in unrestored dust jackets are now rare in commerce. Each housed in a custom brown morocco solander box with lettering in gilt, “Eye of Sauron” motif in colours, image of the author, and map design.
A timeless classic and a cornerstone of the fantasy genre, The Lord of The Rings follows the adventures of the hobbit Frodo Baggins and his compatriots as they battle the Dark Lord Sauron, and attempt to destroy the ring that gives him power over Middle Earth. Tolkien began writing the novel when he was 45 and it took him 12 years to finish it. (The Lord of the Rings would not be published until 1955.) The books, which were inspired by Tolkien’s interest in subjects as far reaching as mythology and philology, went on to become a sensation – selling over 150 million copies and being translated into over 30 languages. W. H. Auden called The Lord of the Rings a “masterpiece”, and it has appeared on Le Monde’s list of the 100 best books of the century. The books were also adapted into the Oscar award winning film trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson and starring Elijah Wood, Ian McKellen, and Viggo Mortensen. "Among the greatest works of imaginative fiction of the twentieth century" (Contemporary Sunday Telegraph Review). (Item #5117)