for writers and readers….

When reviews really matter…

A review from a 10 year old boy in 1936 helped an obscure academic publish a fantasy book for children…and the rest is history.

Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

Image source

 “Bilbo Baggins was a Hobbit who lived in his Hobbit hole and never went for adventures, at last Gandalf the wizard and his Dwarves persuaded him to go. He had a very exiting (sic) time fighting goblins and wargs. At last they get to the lonely mountain; Smaug, the dragon who guards it is killed and after a terrific battle with the goblins he returned home — rich! This book, with the help of maps, does not need any illustrations it is good and should appeal to all children between the ages of 5 and 9.” Rayner Unwin’s review of The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

In 1936 a ten year old boy was given a book by his father. This was not just any book, nor just any boy… Rayner Unwin was the son of Sir Stanley Unwin, founder of the publishing firm George Allen…

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3 comments on “When reviews really matter…

  1. Sue Vincent
    April 29, 2015

    Thank you for the reblog, Bridget!

    • bridget whelan
      April 29, 2015

      Love the photograph of the original review – love your reflections on why reviews are still so important. I think it’s quite cheering that personal recommednations are still more influential than big budget advertising….

      • Sue Vincent
        April 30, 2015

        I am so glad that the original survives… a bit of ephemera they could not have known at the time would change literary history.

        You can see the machine kick in sometimes… the Harry Potter or 50 shades effect… when books become a fashion must-have. I wonder if the impetus to read there is more like grabbing the opportunity to date a supermodel… hoping there is a mind and heart behind the face… A personal recommendation, however, means the reader found something worth finding.

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This entry was posted on April 29, 2015 by in Uncategorized.


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