HarperCollins, which will publish the poem next May, was taken aback when tolkien's son contacted the company about publishing the work.
Christopher Tolkien has devoted years of research to deciphering his father's manuscript fragments. The poem's existence was known only from the briefest of mentions in two letters and six lines that tolkien's biographer, Humphrey Carpenter, was allowed to publish.
Chris Smith, editorial director at HarperCollins, said:
"We'd never seen it until a manuscript was delivered to us. It's completely unpublished, apart from the handful of lines in the Carpenter biography. In the two letters, you have these scant but tantalising references to it. That's the reason it's known about, but no one has had access."
Christopher Tolkien has been unable to establish exactly when the poem was written. The author made a single reference to it in a 1955 letter and kept a 1934 letter from his friend, RW Chambers, professor of English at University College London, who wrote: "It is very great indeed ... really heroic ... You really must finish it."
This is probably the most exciting news in a long time and of all possible publications the one I have been looking forward to the most of all. I sort of guessed and speculated about the release since 2007, when the manuscript labeled 'fall of arthur' sort of 'left' the bodleian library archives... but now we know why. Surely this is the 'one' book many Tolkien fans wish to read, but will it be a book that also will be loved by others? I believe so. This is a topic that will be deep in the hearth of Christopher Tolkien, so the text introducing the book and the three essays will be most interesting, the poem itself by J.R.R Tolkien, (almost) 1000 lines, will be telling a tale so many of us know. Combing Tolkien and Arthur always felt like a strange thing, but somehow I'm certain it is going to be an amazing work! I'm pre-ordering today.
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