The Lord of the Rings (50th Anniversary Edition)

From Tolkien Gateway
The Lord of the Rings (50th Anniversary Edition)
Publication Information
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
PublisherHoughton Mifflin
Released21 October, 2004
Pagesxxi + 1184

The Lord of the Rings (50th Anniversary Edition) was published in 21 October, 2004 by Houghton Mifflin.


  • Leather Bound
  • Slipcase
  • Gilded pages
  • Two fold-out maps
  • Ribbon bookmark
  • Colored inserts of the Book of Mazarbul by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Dimensions 15.7 x 10 x 2.7 inches
  • Weight 4.6 pounds


The text of The Lord of the Rings has been revised and corrected multiple times throughout its several publications and editions, but new errors, mainly typographical, always have been introduced, especially after each resetting of type;[1] notable cases were when the printer reset the metal types of The Fellowship of the Ring soon after its publication, and in 1994 when HarperCollins digitized the text.[2]

Both J.R.R. Tolkien and his son, Christopher Tolkien, had prepared lists of such errors to guide emendations for future editions. Steven M. Frisby had also made comparisons of different LotR copies, and researched Tolkien's original manuscripts in the libraries at the Marquette University. David Bratman also authored A Corrigenda to The Lord of the Rings in The Tolkien Collector #6. Similar lists and comments have been made independently by scholars such as Douglas Anderson, Charles Noad and Arden Smith.

Wayne Hammond and Christina Scull for many years also studied and compared the texts and their inconsistencies. Consulting the abovementioned works, along with their own examination of the Marquette manuscripts, the Allen and Unwin archive, unpublished correspondence between Tolkien and Allen & Unwin, and of course volumes 6-9 of The History of Middle-earth, they had compiled "an exhaustive and up to date catalogue" of errors, corrections and their emendations throughout the publication's history.

For the 50th anniversary, the couple proposed a new effort to produce a text as close as possible to the authorial intent. Tolkien's publishers and the Tolkien Estate agreed. HarperCollins provided searchable text files that helped detect inconsistencies in spelling and punctuation, despite Tolkien's stated preferences. They presented 229 such questionable points to Christopher Tolkien.[3]

Supervised by Christopher Tolkien, and based on the latest compared text, the couple made fixes to typographical errors and mistakes, and corrections to the text when it was certain that the latest text reflected Tolkien's preference. Whenever those were clear, spelling and capitalization were regularized. More substantial textual mistakes (see below) were conservatively considered by case.[4] Christopher Tolkien was positive in "getting rid" of such inconsistencies that distract observant readers, pointing out that were his father notified about them, he would immediately correct them.[1]

An example of textual mistake has been the phrase "from the lowlands to the Dwarf-kingdom" (Book II, Chapter 6) which has been changed to "from the lowlands of the Dwarf-kingdom" in a subsequent edition (whereas Moria had no lowlands); the couple restored it to its original correct form.[4]

Some mistakes that the editors failed to notice, or new ones introduced by bugs of the software, were further corrected for the 2005 reprint.[1]

Changes to the text

The Fellowship of the Ring
Appendix A
Several dates in the Tale of Years
Appendix C is appended with two more Family Trees from The Peoples of Middle-earth
"...there is much else that may be told." — Glóin
This article or section is a stub. Please help Tolkien Gateway by expanding it.