A rare first edition copy of JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit has tripled its estimate at auction to sell for over £31,000 after being found gathering dust in a drawer.

The 87-year-old copy was one of only 1,500 first edition, first impressions ever published on September 21, 1937.  

The children's fantasy novel - which includes black and white illustrations by Tolkien himself - was found tucked away in a chest of drawers at a house in Berkshire.

Its owner had no idea of its value or rarity as she had inherited it from a family member so was left shocked to discover it could be worth thousands.

The famous book, which follows the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, was expected to fetch between £7,000 to £10,000 when it went under the hammer on Friday (24/5).

But it sold for a total of £31,200 at Cotswold-based Kinghams Auctioneers, in Moreton-in-Marsh.

The book also featured a manual correction on the rear inner flap of the dust cover for "Dodgeson".

It refers to Charles Dodgson, a fellow Oxford don who is better known by his pen name Lewis Carroll and the author of Alice in Wonderland

A spokesperson for the auctioneers said: "George Allen & Unwin published the first edition on 21st September 1937 with just 1,500 copies.  

"These sold out by December. It is illustrated in black and white by Tolkien who also designed the dust cover.  

"During the war, the book was unavailable due to paper rationing.  

"On the first edition, first impression there is a manual correction on the rear inner flap for 'Dodgeson', better known as Lewis Carroll.

"Collectors and enthusiasts drive the market for rare first editions with auction prices ranging from £6,000 to over £20,000.

"It was found by one of our valuers in a lady's house in Berkshire on a routine home visit."

The novel is set in Middle Earth and first introduces the character of Hobbit Bilbo Baggins and the "one ring" that would feature again in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

He joins the wizard Gandalf and the thirteen dwarves of Thorin's Company to go on a quest to reclaim the home of the dwarves and treasure from the dragon Smaug.  

When published it was nominated for the Carnegie Medal and awarded a prize from the New York Herald Tribune for best juvenile fiction.

In 2015, a first edition of The Hobbit, containing an inscription in Elvish by Tolkien, sold at auction in London for £137,000.