Monday, May 31, 2021

Ballantine's Road Goes Ever On: Bibliographers Off by a Year!

I’ve been looking everywhere in my Tolkien files for something I need that is Hobbit-related, and I even braved my huge pile of unsorted research notes, some of which date back thirty or more years. But at least in the absence of finding what I’m looking for, I can clear up a long-standing mystery about the Ballantine edition of The Road Goes Ever On. It went through three printings, the first was a jacketless undated hardcover, with the Barbara Remington Lord of the Rings mural  inset on the lower half of the upper cover. The other two printings were trade paperbacks, the second printing is designated on the copyright page August 1975; and the third printing January 1978. But each of these list the first Ballantine printing as having been in October 1969. And that is how it is dated in J.R.R. Tolkien: A Descriptive Bibliography.

But I made a research note that I had examined one copy that was inscribed “Christmas 1968”—which, if true, would put the edition back a year in time.  Lin Carter, not normally remembered for accuracy, listed it as an October 1968 publication in his list of sixteen Ballantine precursors to the Ballantine Adult Fantasy series, in “Bibliography II” (page 268) of Imaginary Worlds (1973).

And Lin Carter was right. Publishers Weekly for 2 September 1968 lists it with a October 14th [1968] publication date, with notice of major promotion and publicity.

Publishers Weekly, 2 Sep. 1968, p.63

Details and cover scans of the Ballantine printings can be found at Devon Press’s TolkienBooks.US site: the hardcover here, and the paperbacks here. (Now updated with the correct 1968 date.)





  1. That original edition was an exceptionally attractive publication, and I got one at a time when I had little spending money and when I couldn't read music. I hadn't seen the Houghton Mifflin edition -- this was the only one of which I knew, with its calligraphy and tantalizing paragraphs by Tolkien about First Age matters.

    Dale Nelson

    1. I should have said: "That original Ballantine edition was an exceptionally attractive publication," etc.