(On First Published Books)
Many, if not most, authors become famous only after the publication of their third, fourth, or so-on book, so the likes of J.K. Rowling and Stephenie Meyer are perhaps rarities, lucky to have catapulted to popularity by the merits of their respective debut books.
As a booklover and author myself, I have a soft spot for first published books especially of my favorite authors, because usually from such early works can a keen reader get a gleam of such authors’ idealistic visions, developed during their most inspired and driven stage of writing. As in childbirth, the pain and joy experienced by parents—more so by mothers—during the birth of their firstborns is usually more memorable than that of the ensuing ones.
Now, here is the first published book of my most favorite author.
“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
Although The Hobbit was a relative success upon its initial release in 1937, the publication of J.R.R. Tolkien’s next masterpiece, the three-part Lord of the Rings, was what shot the English author to international popularity and legendary status. Compared with Tolkien’s subsequent books—particularly The Lord of the Rings and the posthumously published The Silmarillion—The Hobbit is more playful and easier to read primarily because he wrote its core story originally as a fairytale for his then very young children. In it, Tolkien seemed to have struck a balance between accessibility and technicality: The Hobbit passes as a children’s book and yet the story still bears the intricacy of a fantasy fiction; unlike The Lord of the Rings which is definitely a complex book. Overall, The Hobbit is indeed a preparatory springboard to the sparseness of the literary world known as Middle-earth that Tolkien subcreated, which became the setting of Tolkien’s mythopoeic compositions.
The Last Leaf
As well, there is also a downside to an author’s first book. Since that this is the first, it might most likely have been written during the stage when its author was still struggling with his skills or shaping his style; so, compared with his latter works, the first might still be lacking in character and focus. Nonetheless, just like a firstborn to his parents, the first book to its author might remain the most beloved; although this doesn’t necessarily mean that he (or the parents, for that matter) does not love the rest of his brainchildren (or children, for that matter). After all, we all have our favorites, don’t we? And there’s nothing wrong about this.