Tolkien devotees will be making their way to Oxford’s Bodleian Library on World Book Day for a fleeting glimpse of some of the revered author’s original artworks.

The Bodleian is mounting a one-day only exhibition of J.R.R. Tolkien’s original iconic artwork for The Hobbit, together with a manuscript of Hobbit doodles and a rare first edition of the book.

The free-of-charge display will take place in the Bodleian’s Divinity School on Thursday March 4 and will focus on Tolkien’s own manuscript of The Hobbit, which was illustrated throughout with monochrome drawings and maps. The drawings also appeared in the British first edition of the middle earth classic.

At the suggestion of his American publishers who wanted to include colour plates in their edition, Tolkien then painted five watercolours between mid-July and mid-August 1937.

“Tolkien’s abilities as an artist are perhaps less well known than his great talent as a writer,” explains Dr Chris Fletcher, the Bodleian’s Head of Western manuscripts.

“However, as our display shows, his splendid watercolours and drawings – generously given to the Bodleian by the Tolkien trustees in 1979 – formed an essential part of his creative conception of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.”