'New' Tolkien epic due out next year
11th October 2012 - 1:52pm
A previously unpublished J. R. R. Tolkien epic poem inspired by tales of ancient Britain is to be published next May by HarperCollins.
The Lord of the Rings author, who died in 1973, began writing the epic verse a few years before he began work on The Hobbit.
'The Fall of Arthur' is inspired not by Middle Earth but by tales of ancient Britain, drawing on the works of Geoffrey of Monmouth and Thomas Malory's tales of King Arthur.
Set in narrative verse, the 200-page poem follows the veteran king at the end of his reign, as the Knights of the Round Table gather for battle against their enemy, Mordred the usurper.
Tolkien's son Christopher has edited the book and provided a commentary. He told the Guardian: 'It is well known that a prominent strain in my father's poetry was his abiding love for the old 'Northern' alliterative verse.
'In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight he displayed his skill in his rendering of the alliterative verse of the 14th century into the same metre in modern English. To these is now added his unfinished and unpublished poem The Fall of Arthur,' he added.
The Fall of Arthur is the latest in a series of 'new' Tolkien works to be published, with previous material including The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún in 2009 and the unfinished Middle Earth story The Children of Húrin in 2007.
The poem's editor at HarperCollins, Chris Smith, said: 'Though its title had been known from Humphrey Carpenter’s Biography and J. R. R. Tolkien’s own letters, we never supposed that it would see the light of day.'