There And Back Again
was published in 1937, the first work of fiction from Oxford professor John Ronald Reuel Tolkien
whose only previous claim to fame was writing one of the (still!) most influential essays on the interpretation of the Old English epic Beowulf
. It was an overnight success, and it's safe to say that the fantasy genre was never quite the same. But at the same time, in 1937, Adolf Hitler
was consolidating his power as leader of the Third Reich. By May of the next year Germany had already annexed Austria, and Hitler announced his intention to use the utmost military force to subdue Czechoslovakia.
This was the climate in which publishing house Rütten & Loening, while attempting to secure the rights to publish a translated The Hobbit
in German, asked J.R.R. Tolkien if he could provide proof that he was of Aryan descent.