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The History of Middle Earth set by J.R.R. Tolkien first editions 1983-96

The History of Middle Earth set by J.R.R. Tolkien first editions 1983-96


TOLKIEN, J. R. R. [Christopher TOLKIEN, Ed.]

The History of Middle Earth [&] Unfinished Tales 

London: George Allen & Unwin, Unwin Hyman & Harper Collins Publishers, 1983-1996


8vo., 13 vols; publisher’s boards, lettered in gilt along spines; Vols 1-4 with upper edge coloured to match binding; all in the unclipped dust jackets designed by Marilyn Carvell; with frontis maps and photographs in some of the volumes, on glossy paper; some in-text diagrams and facsimile pages of Tolkien’s handwriting, along with appendices, indexes and glossaries to the rear of each volume; Unfinished Tales with large folding map to rear printed in red and black; Elvish border decorations to titles; jacket to Vol I and II repriced £12.50 to front flap, and Unfinished Tales repriced £7.50; Vol XI price clipped; Vol VIII lightly spotted to the upper edge; clean, tight, and apparently unread copies otherwise; light bumping to boards and marginal toning to text blocks the only defects, more prominent in Vol XI and XII; the near fine all, in like jackets, one or two touched by sun at backstrip, with very minor creasing.  Provenance: from the personal Library of the scientist G. N. Greenhalgh, many dated in the year of publication, with his name to the ffep. 


First editions, first impressions. Edited by Tolkien’s son Christopher, who also provides the introduction, commentary, indices and maps. Unfinished Tales and Volumes 1-4 were published by George Allen & Unwin, with 5-6 BY Unwin Hyman and 9-12 Harper Collins. The set comprises: The Book of Lost Tales (Volumes 1 and 2), The Lays of Beleriand, The Shaping of Middle Earth, The Lost Road and Other Writings, The Return of the Shadow, The Treason of Isengard, The War of the Ring, Sauron Defeated, Morgoth’s Ring, The War of the Jewels, The Peoples of Middle-Earth and Unfinished Tales. 


The first volume of The History of Middle-Earth was published in 1983. Over a period of 13 years, the series aimed to collect together - in full, and for the first time - the history of Tolkien’s creative process. Beginning with The Book of Lost Tales, the series covered the peoples, languages and history of his fictional world, with some of the content taken from already-published works, and other sections being formally unpublished material. The books also contained songs, poems, and genealogical tables which can be found sporadically throughout the set. Generally, the set can be divided into three categories. The first five track the history of The Silmarillion, volumes 6-9 The Lord of the Rings, while 10 and 11 focus on material from The Silmarillion which Tolkien worked on after The Lord of the Rings was published. Volume 12 discusses the appendices of LOTR and examines some of the writings from the last years of Tolkien’s life. Christopher Tolkien chose not to include any of the material from The Hobbit, considering it as more of a standalone children’s book. 


A necessary and comprehensive guide for any serious collector of Tolkien.

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