With original illustrations as published in Tolkien's lifetime
Home Sources Authors Illustrators For Children
Nibelungs Poetic Edda Glittering Plain Red Fairy Book Princess & Goblin
Eric Brighteyes Ourobouros Book of Wonder King Arthur Grimms Fairy
She Princess & Curdie Return of She Lilac Fairy Book Kalevala

Welcome to The Professor’s Bookshelf...

... a collection of books that inspired the imagination of Professor J.R.R. Tolkien; creator of Middle-earth, author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. All our titles have informed the professor’s writings in one way or another. Either Professor Tolkien himself stated in his essays or interviews that he had read and been influenced by them, or his biographers and researchers uncovered the evidence, or the books were widely obtainable and popular in his literary circles, so that he certainly knew of them and it is more than likely he read them.

Writers cannot write in a vacuum - even Shakespeare had his influences. When Professor Tolkien was growing up, and even into adulthood, he had his own reading material, about which he spoke in interviews and in letters. Like all authors he loved reading and was inspired by his favourite books.

The fiction of Professor Tolkien was influenced by a number of sources, not limited to the words of other authors. He was inspired by his academic fields of philology and early Germanic literature, especially poetry and mythology, as well as his own beliefs and experiences. The illustrations in his favourite books would also have provided visual stimulus for his imagination, which is why it is important to include them in any reprint of these classic editions.

Good news! In June 2018, we were delighted to receive a long and informative letter from one of the directors of the Tolkien Estate*. This prompted us to recall that instead of stopping at 10 books, as we've done since 2013, we could be offering many more Tolkien's-inspiration titles to Tolkien fans. Our range of The Professor's Bookshelf collection can expand more than threefold. So watch this space and keep an eye out for new releases!

* We have no association with the Tolkien Estate, even though they have often corresponded with us by email and letter!

Tolkien and Art

Professor Tolkien’s own drawings adorn the pages of The Hobbit and it is easy to imagine him as a boy, long before the invention of television, poring for hours over the images in his favourite volumes - images that helped shape his creation of Middle Earth.

Where possible we have selected illustrated editions available in his lifetime. Both texts and pictures have been reproduced, and our books are mostly copies of the editions the professor held in his own hands.


Like the celebrated nineteenth century English textile designer, artist and writer William Morris, we at The Professor’s Bookshelf reject the notion that illustrated materials are unsuitable for adults. To Morris, who was one of Tolkien’s favourite authors, illustrated books for adults presented an opportunity to integrate literature with design and art.

The illustrated story-books that were so popular during J.R.R. Tolkien's lifetime must have influenced him profoundly. Illustrations and graphic ornamentation add a great deal to the way a story is told. If the pictures were removed, the experience of reading a story would not remain the same. The way we react to pictures is different from the way we react to words.  Images can elicit a much more profound and immediate emotional response. They are quickly recognised by a reader’s brain. When we read verbal descriptions we must first decode the written symbols, then convert them into an imagined scene or set of thoughts. We comprehend pictures much more easily and directly. After all, we were looking at pictures before we learned to read. A picture is indeed 'worth a thousand words'!

Our Mission

In essence, a book is itself an artistic creation. The Professor’s Bookshelf celebrates this by embellishing our ‘Illustrated’ series with the original plates (whole page illustrations printed separately from the text), cuts (illustrations printed within the text), borders, fonts, miniatures, and ornamental capital letters, in addition to our own ‘endpapers’ and bookplates.

Professor Tolkien's books - the books he read throughout his lifetime - include titles by notable authors such as William Morris, Lord Dunsany, George MacDonald and H. Rider Haggard.

Each The Professor’s Bookshelf classic opens with an introduction by fantasy author Cecilia Dart-Thornton, about whose acclaimed Bitterbynde Trilogy Grand Master of Science Fiction Andre Norton wrote: ‘Not since Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings fell into my hands have I been so impressed by a beautifully spun fantasy.’

Literary scholars have studied the texts in The Professor’s Bookshelf collection, finding threads and motifs linking them to the professor’s famous works. On reading J.R.R. Tolkien's books - the books he owned or borrowed or lent, the books he loved, the books that shaped his inner world - you will be awakened to that vast library of myth, magic, legend and fantasy whose legacy inspired the great English writer, poet and philologist, Professor J.R.R. Tolkien.


norton-safe-web McAfee Secure
The Professor’s Bookshelf is brought to you by Leaves of Gold Press, publishers of international, premium quality fiction and non-fiction in hardcover, paperback and ebook format. Our books are printed on high grade, acid-free, book-grade, opaque paper stock sourced from responsibly managed forests. Our printers are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council™, the Sustainable Forestry Initiative® and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification™. The Professor's Bookshelf Utilizing POD technology decreases the number of returns and reduces paper waste, thereby cutting down greenhouse emissions and conserving valuable natural resources.

Leaves of Gold Press is in no way affiliated with, or endorsed or sponsored by Tolkien Enterprises or the Estate of J.R.R. Tolkien.
The Professor's Bookshelf is recommended by Chris Clark of The Satiety Diet
paypal secure ssl-secure
Read our terms of business Shop securely with Paypal or our trusted partners Contact us