War story by Tolkien's grandson to HarperCollins

War story by Tolkien's grandson to HarperCollins

HarperCollins is to publish No Man's Land, a "powerful picture of early 20th-century England torn apart by the First World War" by Simon Tolkien, grandson of J R R Tolkien.

HarperCollins holds UK & Commonwealth rights and is handling translation rights.

Inspired by his grandfather's experiences in the Battle of the Somme, Simon Tolkien's No Man's Land follows Adam Raine's journey from boy to man set against the backdrop of a "society violently entering the modern world".

Raine's impoverished childhood in Islington is brought to an end by a tragedy that sends him north to Scarsdale, a hard-living coalmining town where his father finds work as a union organizer. But it isn’t long before the escalating tensions between the miners and their employer, Sir John Scarsdale, explode with terrible consequences.

Tolkien said: "I grew up free of war but not the fear of it, and I often thought about the experience of young men like my grandfather who exchanged the world they knew for the horrors of the trenches where they faced the prospect of their own extinction when they were ordered 'over the top.' I wanted to know what it was like for them and this book is the end result of my long search to answer that question."

David Brawn, publisher of literary estates at HarperCollins, said: “This is a bold new direction for Simon Tolkien and an astonishing tour de force. In No Man’s Land he has embodied the art of the dramatic storyteller and the craft of the literary writer in a richly detailed, marvellously imagined and very poignant human story. It’s hard not to compare No Man’s Land with Birdsong [by Sebastian Faulks (Vintage)] for its vivid imagery and the fragile but indomitable spirit of a man dragged into war. And there are glimpses of J R R Tolkien himself, not so much within the story but in the page-turning power and sensitivity of Simon’s writing.”

No Man's Land will be published by HarperCollins in hardback on 30th June.