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I just got the audio book of the Hobbit, narrated by Rob Inglis, and I would like to read the book while listening. Though, as I understand it, there are several different versions of The Hobbit (not sure how big the changes are), so I was wondering which version Rob Inglis used for his audio book. I still need to get the book, so I might as well get the version that fits my audio book best.

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According to Wikipedia, the second edition had few but significant changes. Subsequent versions had minor emendations (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hobbit). Web searches reveal a plethora of info but no place that I could find that actually details just the changes / dates of Tolkien's 'editions' (as opposed to publication editions which can be textually the same but differ in artwork, maps, etc.). The Wiki does briefly discuss Tolkiens changes. Since Tolkien died in 1973 and Inglis recorded the audio in the 1990's, I would think it's a safe assumption that he used the last version output by Tolkien. Only way to know for sure would be to contact him. If you were to discover he used an older version, how would you get a copy anyway ? You may want to consider getting a copy of 'The Annotated Hobbit' which has an appendix detailing the textual changes across the revisions.

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The Rob Inglis audiobook uses the third edition text.

In The Annotated Hobbit, Douglas Anderson lists every revision that has been made to the text. Looking up some of these in the Audiobook, it seems clear that Rob Inglis is reading from the Third Edition of text of 1966.

Some examples from the first chapter:

1937: “They are (or were) small people, smaller than dwarves (and they have no beards) but very much larger than lilliputians.” > 1966-Ball: “They are (or were) a little people, about half our height, and smaller than the bearded Dwarves. Hobbits have no beards.”

1937: “ It had always been said that long ago one or other of the Tooks had married into a fairy family (the less friendly said a goblin family); certainly there was” > 1966-Ball: “ It was often said (in other families) that long ago one of the Took ancestors must have taken a fairy wife. That was, of course, absurd, but certainly there was”

1937: “ a little old man with a tall pointed blue hat” > 1966-Ball: “ an old man with a staff. He had a tall pointed blue hat”

1937: “mad adventures, anything from climbing trees to stowing away aboard the ships that sail to the Other Side?” > 1966-Longmans/Unwin: “mad adventures? Anything from climbing trees to visiting elves — or sailing in ships, sailing to other shores!”

However there are a few places were some of the third edition revisions were not properly followed.

1937: “here at last!’ what was what he was going to say” > 1961 (Puffin): “here at last!’ was what he was going to say” > 1966-Ball: “here at last!’ That was what he was going to say”

I suppose it's probably possible to identify an edition that follows exactly the same set of changes that he is using, but I'm not sure of a good way to go about finding this.

But any edition published within the last few decades will be the third edition text, and thus 99% the same even if there's a handful more or less corrections that have been made.

Technically though even a Second Edition text would be 99% the same. Only about sixty changes were made to the Third Edition, and they're all generally limited to a single line or two of text.

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  • It is probably worth noting that Mr Inglis spent much of his life enacting one man plays of Tolkien's works, so he may have had many many copies of The Hobbit laying around he read from.
    – Jonathon
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 2:40

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