The Lord of the Rings in Translation
My Collection

©2024. John E. McLaughlin.  Last updated 11 July


Like many young people growing to adulthood in the late '60s and early '70s in the United States, I read J.R.R. Tolkien's classic, The Lord of the Rings, until my three-volume set of paperbacks literally fell apart.  (Many of you who first encountered LOTR in those years will recognize the distinctive Barbara Remington covers of the late '60s paperback edition from Ballantine above.)  I replaced them with a good one-volume hardback in L.A. in 1992 (English), but I didn't imagine collecting them at that time.  It was simply a good reliable friend sitting in a place of honor on my bookshelf.

My collection of LOTR in translation began inadvertently in 2005 in Kecskemét, Hungary at a bookstore in the Malom Központ shopping center.  There I saw a one-volume copy of A Gyűrűk Ura for sale and decided that would be a great souvenir of my trip.  Later, on another leg of the trip in Poznań, Poland, I picked up my first copy of Władca Pierścieni at a small bookstore on the old city square.  That was how it began, thinking that I would collect translations into the local languages from the places I had visited.

In the spring of 2008, I was in the last months of a Fulbright Fellowship in Ukraine and bought a copy of Володар Перстенів in a large bookstore, Буква, on Vulytsja Khreshchatyk south of Maidan Nezalezhnosti in Kyiv.  In the fall of that year I returned to Ukraine to accompany my wife back to the U.S. and she had purchased a copy of the Russian Властелин Колец.  Хоббит, или  Туда и Обратно as a gift.  My collection had grown from three to five. 

Three years later in the summer of 2011 I was in Prague for a conference and added Pán Prstenů to the collection in Palác knih Luxor, a large bookstore on the Václavské náměstíThat was followed in  2013, when my wife was on an overnight layover in Vienna and found a copy of Der Herr der RingeIn 2015, my sister-in-law in Antwerp got in on the act and sent me In de Ban van de Ring as a gift.  I justified adding this and the German translation as "countries I had visited" because of brief layovers at the airports in Munich and Amsterdam in 2005 and 2008.  Five had become eight.


About this time I discovered the website Elrond's Library (which is archived at the Tolkien Collector's Guide as of April 2023) and the spark turned into a serious flame for collecting translations of LOTR whether I had actually visited countries or not.  One of the most useful features of that site was the list of links to acquiring the translations.  I have included my own list here to sites where I have successfully acquired volumes for my collection.  At the present time there are 475 individual volumes from 197 editions in 56 languages on my shelves (plus 62 editions of The Hobbit in 32 languages [including two languages without a LOTR translation] and 38 editions [39 individual volumes] of The Silmarillion in 22 languages).

One of the most important skills that must be mastered when moving into collection beyond personal visits to physical bookstores, is learning to use Google Translate.  While it's always possible to make fun of early GT, when used properly it's an indispensable tool for international business.  The chat with a Bengali speaker in Bangladesh on the right is a classic example.  The key to writing English text that is easily translated into another language?  It's simple.  That's it--make the sentences simple and don't use idioms or informal, colloquial expressions.  Check out the kinds of sentences and vocabulary that I used in the example.  If you want to check the process, then translate the translation back into English.  It should be very close to what you wrote.  If it isn't then try again and simplify the sentences that seemed to be in error.

Here are two of the most productive ways to find international booksellers who have LOTR in their catalogs.

•Search by ISBN number if you know it.  Mixed in with random phone numbers that happen to match an ISBN number are websites for booksellers (and libraries) that have the translation you're looking for.

•Search by the translation's title in the script of the title, such as "Władca Pierścieni" (remember to use that barred ł and the accute accent over the ś) or "स्वामी मुद्रिकांचा".  (You can find many native names at the Wikipedia artcle here or on the pages of this website).  If you're really bold and know the difference between alphabets, abjads, abugidas/alphasyllabaries, syllabaries, and logographic systems, then you can type your own search names at Lexilogos.  (Since I have a PhD in Linguistics I tend to use Lexilogos as a point of pride.)  Otherwise, copy and paste from Wikipedia or here.

Once you've found a potential on-line source, find the search box (almost always marked with that little magnifying glass) and type "Tolkien" there.  A liberal use of Google Translate can usually take you from there.

If you're also a philatelist, there are occasional bounties.

The Collection

The volumes are arranged here by alphabetical order of title and by Unicode order for languages that do not use the Roman alphabet.  The "Next" buttons take you to the next title in that order.  Within languages the volumes are arranged by the order in which they were published.  The Table of Contents contains lists by language name in alphabetical order and by language family in addition to the ordering by titles.  The Table of Contents is especially helpful for finding copies of The Hobbit and The Silmarillion since these are interspersed with LOTR by language and publisher.

The collection is by no means complete and not every translation in every language is represented here.  As of 23 April 2024, the day that I picked up the new Mongolian translation of FR at the Post Office, I now have finally reached the first milestone of my dream:  at least one copy of LOTR in every language into which all or part of it has been translated and published.

The collection in early summer of 2024.  The collection "starts" at the top of the bookcase on the right and "ends" at the bottom of the bookcase on the left.  Why?  Because I built the one on the right first.

19 May 2024 Update:  I suppose that I should actually say that I have a copy of one translation in every language that I know of.  Soon after declaring the completion of the first milestone of my dream, I got an email asking if I knew about the Asturian translation.  I placed an order quickly, but not without a moment of embarrassment.  If you know of a language that I haven't included here with a published translation of LOTR, please don't hesitate to write me and remind me that I don't know everything.  And when you write, put "LOTR" clearly in the subject line because sometimes it goes to the Spam folder and I have to be able to quickly notice it and retrieve it.  If you do write me and I haven't responded in a day or two, try again using a different email, my other email (see below), or a private message at the Tolkien Collector's Guide to "Taivo".

One of the special treasures in my collection is a copy of the first published edition of the first translation (from 1957 into Dutch).  Only 3000 copies of the first edition were printed and it was never printed in that form again.  While the dust jackets are not in good condition (thus halving its value on the collector market), this is still a treasure to me.

Never Ignore Serendipity

The principle of serendipity is simple: You must be looking for something to find something.

I teach History of the English Language at my university.  One day I was doing a general google search for books on the various Germanic languages that might be useful for my course.  Right near the front of my search for "Frisian language", the Frisian translation of FR popped up for sale at the Tolkien Shop.  It was the first of many orders I've placed with the Tolkien Shop in Leiden over the years that I've been collecting.

One of the two most popular pages on my website from the very beginning has been Icelandic.  Then when I later posted the Sinhala page, it supplanted the Icelandic page in first place, but these are always one and two in terms of clicks through to the site.  In early October 2023, I was running through some of my links to bookstores not looking for anything in particular, just monitoring anything that caught my eye.  All of a sudden, there was Sinhala B, a new edition of FR and a new translation of TT.  I didn't even leave the site before I had sent my money and placed an order.  It arrived ten days later.

On the very same day, less than an hour after completing my transaction in Sri Lanka, I was updating my watchlist on ebay when the AI suggestions at the bottom of the page presented me with Icelandic B, an edition that I had never seen before (even though it was twenty years old).  I ordered it even faster than I had ordered the volumes from Sri Lanka (mainly because ebay is in English).  On one day I doubled my holdings in the two most-searched-for translations.  They arrived on Friday and Monday surrounding a single weekend a little over a week later (Sri Lanka beat Iceland).

I teach at a university in Utah and on my personal introduction webpage for every class I mention my Tolkien translation collection (with a link to this site, of course).  I even mention the translations that I'm missing at the time.  A couple of years ago, one of my students mentioned that she had served her LDS mission in Georgia and one of her friends there could get me a Georgian translation if I was interested.  Thus Georgian A came into my life.

Notes on the Details

While I own many of Tolkien's works, both on Middle Earth and Middle English, they're overwhelmingly in English.  I've included The Hobbit and The Silmarillion here just because I have translations in a few languages, but I'm not systematically collecting translations of either.  If you see an [H] or an [S] following a language name, that indicates a translation of The Hobbit or The Silmarillion and not LOTR.  If you're interested in collecting The Hobbit, there is no better English language site than The Hobbithunter in the Netherlands.  Another excellent Hobbit site in Spanish is De Imladris a Oxford.  Another exceptional site for LOTR, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion in Italian is Tolkieniano Collection.

Throughout the site I have referred to FR (The Fellowship of the Ring), TT (The Two Towers), and RK (The Return of the King).  Tolkien, of course, did not think of his work as a trilogy, but as a single work divided into 6 numbered Books.  When needed, I have referred to these six Books as "Books" (with a capital B).  Some Japanese and Korean editions follow this pattern and publish each of Tolkien's Books as separate volumes rather than following the earliest English publication which put two Books into each of three volumes (for purely business reasons).  This three-volume pattern is the most common publishing standard, followed by the one-volume pattern.  Some early Eastern European editions, such as the first Bulgarian and Russian editions, divided the six Books into two  volumes.  This pattern is not followed in any 21st century editions, however.  Some editions, such as Georgian B, have FR broken into two volumes.  The Appendices are not always present, but when they are they are most commonly bound with RK.  In some editions, such as Dutch E, German A, German F, and Japanese B, they are bound as a separate volume, but this is not common.  A particularly interesting pattern is found in Russian L, where the Appendices are published as the Prologue to FR in the first of two volumes.  At the bottom of the Table of Contents is a chart to illustrate the different publishing formats found in my collection.

When needed, I refer to the number of "volumes" as being the number of physical, individually-bound units in a particular edition.  I use the term "edition" to refer to a single volume or set of volumes (from two through nine) that comprise a single published product.

I hope you enjoy your visit to my site.

John McLaughlin

If you have a lead to a translation or an edition for sale that's missing here, please feel free to write me at or  Make sure you put "LOTR" or "Tolkien" in the subject line--sometimes I get overzealous in deleting mail that I don't recognize.  But then don't we all?

Before sending you off, I must give a note of appreciation to The Tolkien Shop in Leiden, Netherlands.  This was one of the very first international shops that I dealt with, finding the Frisian translation there almost by accident.  Rene van Rossenberg, the proprietor, has provided me outstanding service since then including special orders.  If you love Tolkien and his life's work, give Rene's website a visit.  He has much more than just books in his shop.

25 June 2024:  Added Chinese-Simplified E, Dutch K A

2 July 2024:  Added Chinese-Simplified F

5 July 2024:  Added German H

8 July 2024:  Added Czech D, Czech [H] C, Czech [S] C

11 July 2024:  Added Czech E

A Note on Esperanto

There is one translation of LOTR into a language that I don't count and don't own a hard copy of.  That is the Esperanto translation, La Mastro de l’ Ringoj, by William Auld.  I don't count it because Esperanto is not a natural human language.  At the time I write this, there's a copy available on Abebooks for over $700.  That's more than I have paid for any other LOTR copy in my collection, including the first edition of In de Ban van de Ring, and the usually expensive first edition of ลอร์ด ออฟ เดอะ ริงส์ .  First edition Swedish copies reach about $700 (but I don't own one of those yet).  There's a digital copy of the Esperanto translation (as well as an Esperanto translation of The Hobbit) on the Internet Archive website if you are interested in reading it.

If, however, a Klingon translation were to appear....