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The Return of the Shadow

The Return of the Shadow
Return of the Shadow 1988.png
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
EditorChristopher Tolkien
PublisherUnwin Hyman (UK)
Houghton Mifflin (US)
Released25 August 1988 (UK)
5 January 1989 (US)
FormatHardcover; paperback
Preceded byThe Lost Road and Other Writings (1987)
Followed byThe Treason of Isengard (1989)

The Return of the Shadow, published in 1988, is the sixth volume of Christopher Tolkien's 12-volume book series, The History of Middle-earth, in which he analyzes the unpublished manuscripts of J.R.R. Tolkien.

It is also the first volume of The History of The Lord of the Rings, which documents the writing process of The Lord of the Rings.

This book covers a larger part of the content of The Fellowship of the Ring. It encompasses TLotR's three initial stages of composition or, as Christopher Tolkien calls them, "phases", including what Tolkien later called "the crucial chapter" which sets up the central plot, "The Shadow of the Past"[1]. It finishes with the Fellowship of the Ring entering the Mines of Moria.

The title The Return of the Shadow was a discarded title for The Fellowship of the Ring. Tolkien also conceived titles for each of the six Books of TLotR, which he later discarded. Some of these were used as titles for the following volumes.


[edit] Contents

  • Foreword
The First Phase
The Second Phase
  • XIV. "Return to Hobbiton"
  • XV. "Ancient History"
  • XVI. "Delays Are Dangerous"
  • XVII. "A Short Cut to Mushrooms"
  • XVIII. "Again from Buckland to the Withywindle"
The Third Phase
  • XIX. "The Journey to Bree"
  • XX. "At the Sign of the Prancing Pony"
  • XXI. "To Weathertop and Rivendell"
  • XXII. "New Uncertainties and New Projections"
The Story Continued
  • XXIII. "In the House of Elrond"
  • XXIV. "The Ring Goes South"
  • XXV. "The Mines of Moria"

[edit] Inscriptions

There is an inscription in the Tengwar characters in the first pages of every History of Middle-earth volume, written by Christopher Tolkien and describing the contents of the book. The inscription in Book VI reads:

"In the Return of the Shadow are traced the first forms of the story of the Lord of the Rings; herein the journey of the Hobbit who bore the Great Ring, at first named Bingo but afterwards Frodo, is followed from Hobbiton in the Shire through the Old Forest to Weathertop and Rivendel, and ends in this volume before the Tomb of Balin, the Dwarf-lord of Moria."

[edit] From the Publisher

The first part of The History of The Lord of the Rings, an enthralling account of the writing of the Book of the Century which contains many additional scenes and includes the unpublished Epilogue in its entirety.

The Return of the Shadow is the story of the first part of the history of the creation of The Lord of the Rings, a fascinating study of Tolkien’s great masterpiece, from its inception to the end of the first volume, The Fellowship of the Ring.

In The Return of the Shadow (the abandoned title of the first volume of The Lord of the Rings) we see how Bilbo’s magic ring evolved into the supremely dangerous Ruling Ring of the Dark Lord; and the precise, and astonishingly unforeseen, moment when a Black Rider first rode in to the Shire. The character of the hobbit called Trotter (afterwards Strider or Aragorn) is developed, and Frodo’s companions undergo many changes of name and personality.

The book comes complete with reproductions of the first maps and facsimile pages from the earliest manuscripts.

[edit] Publication history and gallery

UK Editions
1988 hardcover  
1990 paperback  
1994 paperback  
2002 paperback  
2010 hardcover  

[edit] External links

A detailed list of unique writings and works by Tolkien in this volume, at


  1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, 2nd edition, "Foreword"

The History of Middle-earth series
i.The Book of Lost Tales: Part One · ii.The Book of Lost Tales: Part Two · iii.The Lays of Beleriand ·
iv.The Shaping of Middle-earth · v.The Lost Road and Other Writings · vi.The Return of the Shadow ·
vii.The Treason of Isengard · viii.The War of the Ring · ix.Sauron Defeated ·
x.Morgoth's Ring · xi.The War of the Jewels · xii.The Peoples of Middle-earth ·