One dreary day, a professor was sitting at his desk when a fateful event occurred. As he marked examination papers, he noticed that a student had left a page blank. For some inexplicable reason, he jotted down a sentence: “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.”
This line sparked J.R.R. Tolkien’s idea of The Hobbit, which was published in 1937. It was an immediate success. Stanley Unwin, the Chairman of the publishing firm, asked him if he had any other similar stories to meet public demand.
In response, Tolkien wrote a full account of tales and named it The Silmarillion. Some of the tales were sent off to Unwin, who decided that they weren’t commercially publishable. Instead, he asked Tolkien if he could write a sequel to The Hobbit.
Disappointed, Tolkien agreed to Unwin’s request and went back to work. The publishing firm did not expect a profit and decided to incur a probable loss of 1,000 pounds. But when they published the story during 1954 and 1955, what came next surprised them.
The trilogy immediately captured the public eye. It was adapted to radio the following year, and has since then gone on to sell over 150 million copies. Later, The Lord of the Rings was turned into one of the highest-grossing and critically acclaimed film series of all time. The trilogy is considered one of the greatest book series of the twentieth century.