Two first edition sets of 'The Lord Of The Rings' trilogy including one signed by the author for a uni friend are set to fetch thousands.

One of the sets has a signed copy of The Return Of The King - which Tolkien autographed for a pal at Oxford.

Oxford Mail:

The signed books could make up to 10K - the other unsigned but in unread condition is expected to bring £5000 to £8000.

Tolkein’s epic fantasy set in Middle earth began as a sequel to his 1937 children's book The Hobbit.

Oxford Mail:

But eventually it developed into a much larger work written in stages between 1937 and 1949.

The Lord of the Rings was - for economic reasons - published over the course of just over a year from 29 July 1954 to 20 October 1955.

It was in three volumes titled The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King.

The trilogy has since been reprinted many times but the copies offered for sale from two different sources are all first editions printed during the relatively narrow 1954-55 window.

The copy signed by the author has been well used, with occasional tears, small losses stains and tape repairs.

Oxford Mail:

The original owner’s father had been at Oxford the same time as Tolkien and had asked him to sign it.

They will be sold at Sworders’ on August 23 as part of the Books and Maps sale.