The classic book by J.R.R. Tolkien The Lord of the Rings was first published as three volumes; The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers and The Return of the King on July 21, 1954, on November 11, 1954 and on October 20, 1955 respectively in the United Kingdom.
The book was created as a single volume and was broken up into sections by the publisher.
When The Fellowship of the Ring was published, an index was promised. However that complete Index and Appendices were not complete until the 1966 revised edition was printed. These Appendices gave a view of the World of Middle-Earth and it’s three Ages that Tolkien began in 1917.
While recovering from “Trench” fever in 1917 Tolkien began work on a tale he called The Fall of Gondolin part of a larger project he would name The Book of Lost Tales. The Lord of the Rings would become part of this world.
While his children were young he began telling them a fairy tale of a Hobbit by the name of Bilbo Baggins who lived in a hole in the ground. With the encouragement of his friend C.S. Lewis, (Lewis would later create his own children tales The Chronicles of Narnia), Tolkien finished The Hobbit tale in 1933. In 1936 the manuscript was shown by a family friend to publisher Stanley Unwin. The Hobbit was published in 1937.
The Lord of the Rings was begun as its sequel in 1937 and took until 1953 to complete. Tolkien was exacting in the writing of his tales and would work his Middle-Earth mythology his entire life, with The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit being the only major works of this mythology published during his life.