Celebrating the 75th anniversary of "The Hobbit," Rose Eveleth highlights the crucial revision required to set the stage for Tolkein's later trilogy:
Fans might be surprised to find that the version of The Hobbit that they know and love doesn’t exactly match the text of the book’s first edition. Remember the riddle game that Bilbo and Gollum play deep in the goblin caves? You probably remember how it ended—Bilbo beats Gollum by stumping him, and when Gollum realizes what he’s lost, he panics and chases Bilbo through the caves. His final words in The Hobbit are "Thief! Thief, Baggins! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it forever!" Well in the very first edition of the book, that’s not what happens at all. In fact, Bilbo and Gollum part peacefully. Gollum admits that he’s been beat, and lets Bilbo go on his way. Tolkein had to change that chapter to fit with the later trilogies, in which Gollum returns and seeks the ring.