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An anonymous bidder has paid £60,000 for a first edition of JRR Tolkien's The Hobbit at auction, the Times reports.

The book, which went under the hammer at Bonhams in London, was expected to fetch only half that amount. The copy was dedicated to Elaine Griffiths, a friend of the author, who was partly responsible for its publication. She recommended the book, which Tolkien had only intended for his children, to publishers George Allen & Unwin. It was first published in 1937 and went on to sell 100 million copies worldwide.

Other preciouses did well in the auction - the last known photograph of the author, taken in 1973, fetched £864, a couple of hundred more than expected. The first foreign language translation of the book, in Swedish, sold for nearly twice the expected amount at £1,560.

A big screen adaptation of The Hobbit is due in 2010, with Pan's Labyrinth director Guillermo del Toro at the helm. ®

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