Dust-jacket design for The Hobbit

Tolkien illustrated The Hobbit himself, and was reluctant for any artist to illustrate The Lord of the Rings, ‘whether genius or not’. Ten of his drawings, and a map, were included in the first edition of 1937. These were sufficiently impressive for his publishers to ask him to design the dust jacket for The Hobbit. After several attempts Tolkien produced this watercolour, carefully sized according to the proportions of the covers and the width of the spine. This was the watercolour from which the printing was done, and Tolkien’s detailed suggestions may be read in the margins, together with a few comments, more roughly written, by the printer.


Pencil, pen and ink, watercolour and gouache, 250 × 380 mm