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New Tolkein story to be published

The first fantasy story of JRR Tolkein, author of ‘The Lord of the Rings’ trilogy, will be released later this month.

Entitled ‘The Story of Kullervo’, Tolkein wrote the story whilst studying at the University of Oxford in 1915 as a retelling of the Finnish epic poem ‘Kalevala’. The piece sees a man sold into slavery romance his sister ahead of his suicide.


Prior to its release by HarperCollins on the 27th August, the original unfinished manuscript has been kept in the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library. Prior to this, the text has appeared solely in academic works by American scholar Verlyn Flieger.

Publishing house HarperCollins has called the titular character Kullervo “perhaps the darkest and most tragic of all JRR Tolkien’s characters”. HarperCollins went on to claim that ‘The Story of Kullervo’ is a clear predecessor and inspiration to the narrative of Tolkein’s later work ‘The Silmarillion’ in which the author details the early ages of Middle-Earth.

Writing to poet WH Auden in 1955, Tolkein claimed that he “was immensely attracted by something in the air of the Kalevala…I never learned Finnish well enough to do more than plod through a bit of the original, like a schoolboy with Ovid … But the beginning of the legendarium … was in an attempt to reorganise some of the Kalevala, especially the tale of Kullervo the hapless, into a form of my own.”

The Story of Kullervo is the latest work of Tolkein to be published posthumously.

The Tolkein family is known to be protective of the author’s work.

By Hal Breen

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About Hal Breen

Student at the University of Bristol Writer for Union Times, Inter:Mission and The Tab

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