September 24, 2001
Birth of the Rings
Just imagine it: Life without hobbits, elves, wizards and all the other wondrous folk that people Middle-earth, the magical world created by J.R.R. Tolkien in The Lord of the Rings.
Millions of readers the world over would be poorer without it. And filmmaker Peter Jackson would not be spending millions of dollars on a three-part film version of the fantasy trilogy -- the first of which, "The Fellowship of the Ring," is to be released at Christmastime.
In the nearly half-century since The Lord of the Rings was first published in the 1950s, Tolkien's Middle-earth has for many become a place as real as the "real" Earth we all inhabit. Tolkien has been dead since 1973. But a series of books edited by his son and literary executor, Christopher Tolkien, should interest fans anticipating the upcoming movie versions.
Presenting the elder Tolkien's early drafts along with his son's extensive notes and commentaries, The History of the Lord of the Rings shows us that this ultimate fantasy might never have existed if its author had not been so patient and persistent.