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HC to publish Tolkien's 'Beowulf'

HarperCollins has signed world rights to JRR Tolkien's translation of Beowulf, edited by his son, Christopher.

Tolkien translated the old English poem early in his career in 1926, making later corrections but never considering it for publication. The HC edition will also include a selection of lectures on the poem given by Tolkien at Oxford in the 1930s, which form a commentary to the translation of the poem.

Christopher Tolkien said: "From his creative attention to detail in these lectures there arises a sense of the immediacy and clarity of his vision. It is as if he entered into the imagined past: standing beside Beowulf and his men shaking out their mail-shirts as they beached their ship on the coast of Denmark, listening to the rising anger of Beowulf at the taunting of Unferth, or looking up in amazement at Grendel’s terrible hand set under the roof of Heorot."

Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary is the first new book from Tolkien since long poem The Fall of Arthur. It will be published in hardback on 22nd May, and in the US by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Negotiations are underway for translations, but no film rights are being sold.