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The Children of Húrin - J.R.R. Tolkien (preview)

Preview by Lizzie Guilfoyle

FIRST there was The Hobbit. Then came The Lord of the Rings. Now it’s the turn of J.R.R. Tolkien’s oldest story of Middle Earth, The Children of Húrin which is available to buy from April 17, 2007.

In a world rights deal, the Tolkien Estate signed with HarperCollins to publish the first complete book by J.R.R. Tolkien since the posthumous Silmarillion in 1977.

Presented now for the first time as a fully continuous and standalone story, the epic tale of The Children of Húrin will reunite fans of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings with Elves and Men, dragons and Dwarves, and the rich landscape and characters unique to Tolkien.

The Children of Húrin, begun in 1918, was one of three ‘Great Tales’ J.R.R. Tolkien worked on throughout his life, though he never realised his ambition to see it published. Though familiar to many fans from extracts and references within other Tolkien books, it has long been assumed that the story would forever remain an ‘unfinished tale’.

Now reconstructed by Christopher Tolkien, painstakingly editing together the complete work from his father’s many drafts, The Children of Húrin is the culmination of a tireless thirty-year endeavour by him to bring J.R.R. Tolkien’s vast body of unpublished work to a wide audience.

Speaking about the project, Christopher Tolkien said:

“It has seemed to me for a long time that there was a good case for presenting my father’s long version of the legend of The Children of Húrin as an independent work, between its own covers, with a minimum of editorial presence, and above all in continuous narrative without gaps or interruptions, if this could be done without distortion or invention, despite the unfinished state in which he left some parts of it.”

Having drawn the distinctive maps for the original The Lord of the Rings more than 50 years ago, Christopher has also created a detailed new map for The Children of Húrin. In addition, it will include a jacket and colour paintings by Alan Lee, illustrator of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings Centenary Edition and Oscar-winning designer of the film trilogy.

The Lord of the Rings was already acclaimed worldwide as the most popular book of the 20th Century before the blockbuster films broke new ground and inspired millions more to read them. In fact, an additional 50 million copies were sold, leaving new fans wanting more.

Of The Children of Húrin Victoria Barnsley, CEO and Publisher of HarperCollins Publishers, said:

“This epic story of adventure, tragedy, fellowship and heroism stands as one of the finest expressions of J.R.R. Tolkien’s skills as a storyteller. With a narrative as dramatic and powerful as anything contained within The Lord of the Rings, it can now be read and enjoyed as Tolkien originally intended, and will doubtless be a revelation for millions of fans around the world.”

The Children of Húrin will be simultaneously published in the UK in two editions – a standard hardback edition at £18.99 and a deluxe slipcased edition at £60.

And it will be published on the same day in the United States by Houghton Mifflin.

A special celebratory launch will take place at Waterstones in Piccadilly on Tuesday, April 17, 2007.
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