Since 1993, George R.R. Martin has used Texas A&M’s Cushing Memorial Library and Archives as the official respository for his manuscripts, books, and memorabilia. Over the years, he has donated various papers and texts to the library for protection and archiving. This past weekend, Martin added another book to the list: A first-edition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Even better, this donation marked the library’s five millionth text.
One of only 1,500 published first-edition copies, this volume features a simple dust jacket (see above) along with the publisher’s hand-corrected spelling error on the inside flap. The copy will be shelved in Cushing alongside the first American edition (from 1938) and the second British edition (1951).
At the ceremony on February 27, Martin read aloud a few pages from The Hobbit and talked about the impact science fiction and fantasy has had on his life. He also spoke about the necessity for preserving stories:
Even in our modern centuries… we’re losing stories. All of this is incredible [tragedy] to me. That’s where I think libraries, like the great Library of Alexandria, are the fortresses of our civilizations. The stories that we tell each other, the stories that we grow up on, the stories that help shape our values and shape our lives, we still love and remember. This is the stuff that should be preserved.
And not just the highbrow stuff! He clarified:
All of it should be preserved. Not just the stuff that we deem high culture, but popular culture and ordinary culture and ephemera and juvenilia, preserve all of it because we don’t know what we’ll want 50 years from now, what’s going to be important 100 years from now, or whether indeed 1,000 years from now, Stan Lee will stand next to Shakespeare.
You can also read a short writeup of the event on Martin’s blog.
Photo: Texas A&M University