The first-edition Hobbit is one of only 1,500 in existence and features illustrations designed by Tolkien himself. Pictured is the book’s dust jacket.
Texas A&M University Libraries today acquired its five millionth volume, a rare first-edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s 1937 classic The Hobbit. The book is a gift from award-winning “Game of Thrones” author George R.R. Martin.
“Over the last two decades the A&M Libraries has become one of the top 10 publicly-supported research libraries in this country (Association of Research Libraries (ARL) ranking) and this five millionth volume symbolizes that maturity as well as the depth our collections,” said David Carlson, dean of University Libraries.
Only 1,500 published first-editions of The Hobbit exist. The volume features a striking dust jacket complete with the publisher’s hand-corrected spelling error on the inside flap. The book will be shelved in Cushing alongside an array of later editions including the first American edition (1938) and the second British edition (1951).
The Tolkien volume was funded by and presented to the university at a ceremony in Rudder Auditorium by Martin, whose “A Song of Ice and Fire” book series is the basis for a hit HBO show.
The volume of The Hobbit was donated to the Cushing Memorial Library and Archives’ Science Fiction and Fantasy Research Collection, one of the largest of its kind in the world, which houses Martin’s personal collection of manuscripts, books and associated memorabilia.
Martin has past noted that he chose Texas A&M to store his personal collection due to its top-of-the-line library facilities and archival systems. “We’re especially pleased that George R.R. Martin has been such a faithful supporter and now benefactor of our collections. He entrusts us with his legacy and we are honored by it,” Carlson said.
Martin forged a relationship with the university after he began attending AggieCon science fiction conventions in the 1970s. “During one of those visits, I was given a tour of the special collections and saw not only the books and manuscripts and other items that were on deposit there but also the physical facility itself which was very impressive,” he said, adding that when it was time to put his personal papers on deposit, he thought of Texas A&M.
He went on to note he considers Cushing’s Sci-Fi and Fantasy collection to be among the top three nationwide and the top 10 in the world.
University Libraries is a longtime member of the ARL and is ranked by the organization in its Top 20 nationwide (19th in the 2013 overall investment index among the 115 ARL institutions). And, said Carlson, the libraries are ranked No. 1 out of all Southeastern Conference schools.
“Extraordinary collections and a focus on customer service” are just some of what sets University Libraries apart from all others, Carlson said. In addition, are the library staff’s devoted efforts to transfer printed materials to electronic format, providing unprecedented access to library materials.