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Authors and editors talk about the man, his works, and the creation of Middle-earth

A conversation with Clay Harper, Tolkien Projects Director

Q What are some highlights of Houghton Mifflin's long history of publishing the works of J.R.R. Tolkien?
Q Why has The Hobbit been so popular for more than six decades?
Q What are the major themes of The Lord of the Rings, and what are its virtues?
Q What should readers know about the author?
Q In what order should readers approach Tolkien's work?
Q What is Houghton Mifflin's role in the global Tolkien publishing enterprise?
Q What have been the sales trends in the United States throughout Houghton Mifflin's history?
Q What has Houghton Mifflin's publishing strategy been? How has this strategy evolved over the years?
Q Do balrogs have wings?

A conversation with Tom Shippey, author of J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century

Q Why is Tolkien called "author of the century"?
Q What made you want to write your study?
Q What special qualifications do you have for explaining Tolkien?
Q Why do you think Tolkien has been so popular with readers?
Q Why has Tolkien been unpopular with critics?
Q How do his books affect one's view of Tolkien the man?
Q What effect has Tolkien had on modern fantasy?
Q What remains unique in Tolkien's work?

A conversation with Douglas A. Anderson, author of The Annotated Hobbit

Q What exactly is an "annotated" book?
Q Tolkien himself revised the text of The Hobbit. Why?
Q The Lord of the Rings was written as a sequel to a children's book. Can you elaborate on the relationship between the two works?
Q The first edition of The Annotated Hobbit came out in 1988. What was the original inspiration for your book, and how does the new "revised and expanded" edition differ from the earlier version?
Q How did you come to be interested in Tolkien?
Q What is the most surprising or intriguing thing you uncovered in your research?

An essay by editor Austin Olney
Olney was Tolkien's editor at Houghton Mifflin for many years

An interview with publisher Rayner Unwin
(Video Running Time: 3 minutes, 24 seconds)
At age ten, Unwin was the person who first reviewed The Hobbit, and acting on his advice his father Sir Stanley published it. He was paid one shilling for the review.

A number of biography and reference titles are available to enhance understanding of Tolkien's genius. Please visit our online catalog for a complete listing of works by and about J.R.R. Tolkien.