A first edition of The Hobbit by J. R.R. Tolkien, which the author had given to a former student, was sold at auction for £137,000 breaking historical sales records for the copy. Sotheby’s expected the rare book to go for between £50,000 and £70,000.
The copy was one of a handful of copies that the author had signed. This copy contained a list of family members, colleagues, friends and students he planned to give copies of the book. Here is more from Sotheby’s:
The recipient of this copy was Miss Katherine (“Kitty”) Kilbride (1900-1966) who had been one of Tolkien’s first students at Leeds University in the 1920s. Kitty Kilbride was, recalled her nephew, “…an invalid all her life and was much cheered by his [Tolkien’s] chatty letters and cards. …books were given to her as they were published”. Her set of The Lord of the Rings(inscribed to “C.M. Kilbride”) was sold in these rooms 19 July 1982, lot 315 and, later, Sotheby’s New York, 10-11 December 1993, lot 581. An autograph postcard to her, dated 24 December 1926, was sold at Bonham’s, 12 June 2012, lot 150. Kilbride’s letter of acknowledgement for the present volume is preserved in the Tolkien papers in the Bodleian Library (MS.Tolkien 21, f.66). She notes “what fun you must have had drawing out the maps”.