HC to release previously unpublished Tolkien poem

A previously unpublished long poem by J R R Tolkien will be released next year by HarperCollins.

The publisher has announced plans to release The Fall of Arthur, a work of narrative verse begun by the author before he wrote The Hobbit, with notes and commentary from the author's son, Christopher Tolkien.

It is the first book from Tolkien to be released since poem The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún in 2009. The Fall of Arthur will be released on 23rd May 2013 by HarperCollins in the UK, and by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in the USA, following a world rights deal with the Tolkien Estate.

Discussions are underway for multiple translations, although film rights are not being sold. Christopher Tolkien said: "It is well known that a prominent strain in my father's poetry was his abiding love for the old ‘Northern' alliterative verse, which extended from the world of Middle-earth . . .

"In Sir Gawain and the Green Knight he displayed his skill in his rendering of the alliterative verse of the fourteenth century into the same metre in modern English. To these is now added his unfinished and unpublished poem 'The Fall of Arthur'."

Chris Smith, editorial director of HarperCollins, said: "This is an extraordinary work, which breathes new life into one of our greatest heroes, liberating him from the clutches of Malory's Romantic treatment, and revealing Arthur as a complex, all-too human individual who must rise above the greatest of betrayals to liberate his beloved kingdom from Mordred the usurper.

"Combining legend, action and a very human drama, and employing the most demanding of technical verse-forms, Tolkien delivers a narrative every bit as compelling as his tales of Middle-earth. Inspired by one of the most famous tales in world literature, this new book will doubtless reach a new audience while satisfying fans around the world."