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'Hobbit' first edition goes for record price

A first edition of the novel "The Hobbit" by J.R.R. Tolkien has fetched the equivalent of 187,000 euros at auction. The book was accompanied by a handwritten note by the author in Elvish.

The book, which dates from 1937 and had been a gift from the author to one of his former students, was sold on Thursday by Sotheby's in London for 137,000 pounds (187,000 euros, $211,000).

Sotheby's said it was the highest price ever attained at auction for "The Hobbit." In 2008, a copy sold for 50,000 pounds.

Note in Elvish that accompanied the book. Photo: Sotheby's/dpa +++(c) dpa

Tolkien invented Elvish before writing his books

The note accompanying the book contains lines in Elvish - a language invented by Tolkien, a philologist - from a verse in "The Lost Road," a story the writer never finished.

Tolkien had dedicated and presented the book to Miss Katherine ("Kitty") Kilbride, one of the first students he had at Leeds University, where he was professor from 1920 to 1925.

Long correspondence

The author corresponded with Kilbride, who was an invalid, throughout his life, also sending her copies of his books after he completed them.

A letter from Kilbride thanking Tolkien for the book sold on Thursday can be found in Oxford's Bodleian Library and contains the words: "What fun you must have had drawing out the maps."

"The Hobbit, or There and Back Again" is a fantasy book for children that remains popular to this day. Many of its characters, including Bilbo Baggins and the wizard Gandalf, reappear in the epic "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, which Tolkien wrote later for an older readership.

Both "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" have been turned into a fantasy film series by New Zealand director Peter Jackson.

The last of the six films adapted from Tolkien's books, entitled "The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies,"

was released at the end of last year.

tj/kms (dpa, AFP)

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