75 years ago on September 21, 1937, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit first appeared in print. It is possible that neither The Hobbit nor The Lord of the Rings would have seen the light of day if someone had not come down with the flu.
“All I remember about the start of The Hobbit is sitting correcting School Certificate papers in everlasting weariness of that annual task forced on impecunious academics with children. On a blank leaf I scrawled: ‘In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit.’ I did not and do not know why. I did nothing about it, for a long time, and for some years I got no further than the production of Thor’s Map. But it became The Hobbit in the early 1930s, and was eventually published because I lent it to then Rev. Mother of Cherwell Edge when she had the flu, and it was seen by a former student who was at that time in the office of Allen and Unwin. It was I believe tried out on Rayner Unwin; but for whom when grown up I think I should never have got the Trilogy published.”
-J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter to W.H. Auden, 1955