HarperCollins is set to release The Story of Kullervo by J.R.R. Tolkien as a novel for the first time later this month.
The publisher said the text was edited by Verlyn Flieger, a US Tolkien scholar who has worked with the publisher on other Tolkien texts.
"Apart from an appearance in some academic papers by Flieger, which is what brought it to our attention, this is its first publication, and like last year’s publication of Tolkien’s Beowulf, it now includes additional pertinent material such as drafts and lecture notes by Tolkien, which form an accompaniment to the fiction," the publisher told The Bookseller.
On the HarperCollins UK website Kullervo is described as "perhaps the darkest and most tragic of all J.R.R. Tolkien’s characters." The publisher said: "'Hapless Kullervo’, as Tolkien called him, is a luckless orphan boy with supernatural powers and a tragic destiny. Brought up in the homestead of the dark magician Untamo, who killed his father, kidnapped his mother, and who tries three times to kill him when still a boy, Kullervo is alone save for the love of his twin sister, Wanona, and guarded by the magical powers of the black dog, Musti. When Kullervo is sold into slavery he swears revenge on the magician, but he will learn that even at the point of vengeance there is no escape from the cruellest of fates."
Tolkien himself said that The Story of Kullervo was "the germ of my attempt to write legends of my own", according to HarperCollins.
Kullervo is described as the “clear ancestor” of Túrin Turambar, the hero of The Silmarillion, which was published posthumously in 1977.
According to the Telegraph, Tolkien began work on the story in 1914, while he was still at Oxford University.