From The Middle East to Middle Earth
IN 1938, THE OXFORD professor J.R.R. Tolkien published a bestselling book featuring wizards, elves, dwarves, kings, queens, and a curious creature for which the story is named: The Hobbit. The novel, which has sold more than 100 million copies since its publication, dramatically expanded the possibilities (and readership) of a genre that would come to be known as fantasy. Tolkien tells of a hobbit named Bilbo Baggins, whose utter indifference to adventure is upended by a visit from 13 hirsute dwarves and a wizard named Gandalf.