Mr. Bliss, a tale written and illustrated by Tolkien: 25th anniversary of publication (updated 27.06.07)

We all know this year we will celebrate the 70th anniversary of The Hobbit and the 30th anniversary of The Silmarillion. Also this year we saw the publication of a brand new Tolkien book, The Children of Hurin.

New cover for the 25th celebration edition of Tolkien's Mr. Bliss In Oktober 2007 we will also get a brand new edition of the long unavailable children’s story Mr. Bliss, written and illustrated by Tolkien himself.

Originally published in 1982, the book has been out of print since the 1990s. This edition marks the 25th anniversary of publication. It has now a completely different cover and has been completely redesigned to make it the definitive edition, ideal for collectors and newcomers to the story.

It features newly scanned manuscript pages and redesigned text. Each page of Tolkien’s original 1930s manuscipt is reproduced in facsimile, with his own coloured illustrations and distinctive handwriting. Facing each page is the story, fully typeset for ease of reading, especially for younger readers. All pictures have been newly scanned from the archive manuscripts to give the best possible reproduction.

The first edition of Mr. Bliss wasn't published during Tolkien's lifetime. Professor J.R.R. Tolkien invented and illustrated the book of Mr Bliss’s adventures for his own children when they were very young. He submitted it to his publishers as a balm to readers who were hungry for more from Tolkien after the success of The Hobbit. The lavish ink and coloured pencil illustrations made production costs prohibitively expensive and so Tolkien agreed to redraw the pictures in a simpler style; but then found he didn't have time to do it.

The manuscript lay in a drawer until 1957, when he sold it (as well as the original manuscripts of The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and Farmer Giles of Ham) to Marquette University for 1,250 pounds.

The book was finally published in 1982, with Tolkien's difficult-to-read handwritten story and illustrations on one page, and a typeset transcription on the facing page. The story was reproduced exactly as Tolkien created it - handwritten with lots of detailed and uproarious colourpictures.

The story we read in the book is a complete and highly imaginative tale of eccentricity. Mr Bliss, a mannotable for his immensely tall hats and for the girabbit in his garden, takes the whimsical decision to buy a motor car. But his first drive to visit friends quickly becomes a catalogue of disasters. Some of these could be blamed on Mr Bliss’s style of driving, but even he could not anticipate being hijacked by three bears. As for what happened next - the readers, whether young or old, will want to discover for themselves. Thankfully all ended well, and even the yellow motor car with red wheels (to which Mr Bliss has taken an understandable and great dislike), came in useful at the end...

The story was inspired by Tolkien's own vehicular mishaps with his first auto, purchased in 1932. The bears were based on toy bears owned by Tolkien's sons. The narrative binds the story and illustrations tightly together, as the text often comments directly on the pictures. Finally it will be for sale again and we can all enjoy the tale once again!

Type: Hardback
Estimate: 112 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: Revised edition - 1 Oktober 2007 (UK)
Language: English
Format: 189x246 mm
ISBN-10: 0007255330
ISBN-13: 978-0007255337

First editions of Mr.Bliss are now very collectable and hard to find in mint condition. More recent prints are more easely to find. For those who cannot wait to buy the revised edition or want to have a nice Tolkien collectable, you can buy the tale here:

Type: Hardback
Estimate: 108 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: 22 September 1994 (UK)
Language: English
Format: 189x246 mm
ISBN-10: 0261102532
ISBN-13: 978-0261102538
Type: Hardback
Estimate: 110 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Publication Date: Janurary 1983 (US)
Language: English
Format: 189x246 mm
ISBN-10: 0395329361
ISBN-13: 978-0395329368
Type: Hardback
Estimate: 104 pages
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: September 1982 (UK)
Language: English
Format: 189x246 mm
ISBN-10: 0048232157
ISBN-13: 978-0048232151

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