|Once in a while you get in touch with people who wish to share the story behind a book they own. This is always very nice, especially when the book in the story is a rare translation of The Hobbit and signed and dedicated by J.R.R. Tolkien and his son Father John F. R. Tolkien.
The book was given to Father Antonio Quevedo by John F. R. Tolkien, the priest-in-charge at the parish where he was doing a one-month assignment. In the Parish Newsletter from 9 September 1973, we read there was a mass for J.R.R. Tolkien on Friday the 14th and a prayer for the professor during the 'over sixties club' meeting on 3 September 1973, the day after Tolkien had past away at the age 81.
"In our prayers let us remember all who have died past week. Professor Tolkien, Mrs Laura Johnson and Mr John Paton. Let us pray that the relatives and friends mourn will soon find comfort.
Let us also pray for children and teachers who start back to school next week.
People who are trying to gain their freedom, may this be fulfilled in a peacful way.
Let us pray that Fr. Antonio has a good journey to Rome and find happiness and success in the work he is doing."
A few days later Fr. Antonio left the parish and took his "El Hobito" over to Rome. It is still being treasured by him today and will be so for many years to come.
A generous gift - the tale behind a signed copy of El Hobito
Father Antonio Quevedo was ordained as a catholic priest on June 29th 1971 and completed his theology studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome a year later. He then started his biblical studies at the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome.
|In the late summer of 1973, Father Antonio Quevedo was given a one-month assignment at Stoke-on-Trent, England, where Father John F. R. Tolkien, the first son of J. R. R. Tolkien, was the priest-in-charge at the Church of Our Lady of the Angels and at St. Peter in Chains.
They both resided in the same parish where they had time to get to know each other. On September 2nd, their routines were suddenly interrupted when Father John received news of his father’s death.
At that time, the second priest-in-charge was on vacation; and thus, Father Antonio was asked to lead the Church while Father John traveled to Oxford to bury his father.
A photo of the Parish house taken by Father Antonio, 1973 >>
Father Antonio took over the responsibilities as the priest-in-charge over the Roman Catholic community in Stoke-on-Trent during Father John’s absence. He still remembers the visits to the hospitals to give the Anointing of the Sick. When Father John returned from Oxford, he presented Father Antonio with a book entitled “El Hobito” as a token of his appreciation for his work. The title page includes a dedication, which reads “given to Father Antonio by J. F. R. Tolkien as a memento of his stay at Stoke. September 1973”.
|The book given to Father Antonio is very unique because it was previously signed by J. R. R. Tolkien and dedicated to his wife, Edith.
The dedication is written in Spanish on the title page and reads “para Edita querida R”.
This is probably one of the few books that J. R. R. Tolkien received from the Argentinian publisher in 1964 and most likely the only one that Tolkien gave as a gift to the love of his life.
”El Hobito” is the first Spanish edition of “The Hobbit” that was published by Fabril Editora in 1964 under the collection “Los Libros del Mirasol” in Argentina. The first translation was done by Teresa Sánchez Cuevas. Tolkien reviewed the translation in 1962 and sent feedback to the publisher to avoid using the word gnomes when refering to the elves.
The book is easily recognizable because of the illustrations done by Luis Videla. The cover picture shows Gandalf talking to Bilbo, in a fashion that does not strictly reproduce Tolkien’s descriptions of the characters. “El Hobito” was not successful and only one edition was published, which makes it particularly rare. It was not until 1982 when the second Spanish translation of “The Hobbit”, entitled “El Hobbit” was published by Minotauro.
Father Antonio returned to Rome and, in July 1975, obtained his license in Re Biblica at the Pontifical Biblical Institute. A year later, he decided to leave the priesthood with the blessings of Pope Paul VI.
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