J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth has become one of literary’s greatest fantasy worlds, and took decades of work to create. After a century of remaining relatively unseen by the public, one of the works that inspired the world of Lord of the Rings is being released.
Beren and Lúthien has gone on sale to mark the 10th anniversary of the last Middle Earth book, The Children of Húrin. Edited by the author’s son Christopher Tolkien, the story focusses on the two titular lovers, a mortal man and an immortal elf. Lúthien’s father will only allow his daughter to marry the man if he can steal something from Morgoth, the first Dark Lord, and master of Sauron.
One version of the story was included in The Silmarillion. The new publication features the original story along with an insightful narrative into how the story transformed written by Christopher.
Speaking to the BBC, John Garth — a Tolkien specialist — recalled how the author’s experience during World War One affected his work.
"When he came back from the trenches, with trench fever, he spent the winter [of 1916-1917] convalescing,” he said. “He'd lost two of his dearest friends on the Somme and you can imagine he must have been inside as much of a wreck as he was physically.”
Most iconic book covers
Most iconic book covers
1/12 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
Francis Cugat designed the cover art for Fitzgerald's quintessential jazz age novel. He finished it before the book was complete and the author liked it so much he 'wrote it into' the novel.
2/12 The Godfather - Mario Puzo
This 1969 cover art was produced by S Neil Fujita and became so iconic that the gothic typeface and puppeteer's hand were used as imagery in the film too.
3/12 The Cat in the Hat - Dr Seuss
Theodor Seuss Geisel designed this cartoon for his own 1957 children's classic.
4/12 Fifty Shades of Grey - EL James
If this cover to EL James' first erotic novel isn't one of the most iconic sleeves of recent times, we don't know what is.
5/12 The Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
Salinger was known for being fussy when it came to his book designs. He liked them simple with the only words being his name and the title, like this one by E Michael Mitchell.
6/12 'Porno' - Irvine Welsh
DJ Design came up with this crass cover for Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting sequel that few book-buyers could walk by without noticing.
7/12 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
American jazz musician and designer Paul Bacon created this simple yet striking cover for Heller's novel. He is also the man behind the One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Slaughterhouse-Five sleeves.
8/12 One Day - David Nicholls
Craig Ward designed this bright romantic sleeve for David Nicholls' 2009 novel.
9/12 A Clockwork Orange - Anthony Burgess
David Pelham came up with this famous cover ten years after A Clockwork Orange was first published in 1962.
10/12 In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
S Neil Fujita designed this crime thriller's sleeve using a classic typeface, a strong black border and a simple drop of blood. The drop was brighter at first but Capote asked for it to be made darker as time had elapsed since the murders.
11/12 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
Illustrator Elmer Hader painted this by Steinbeck's request for his 1939 novel. He then created the cover art for East of Eden and The Winter of Our Discontent, too.
12/12 Invisible Man - Ralph Ellison
Edward McKnight Kauffer's powerful artwork represents the protagonist who is struggling to assert his identity in a world of hate.
On a walk in East Yorkshire in 1917, Tolkien’s wife Edith apparently danced in a glade filled with white flowers, influencing a key scene in Beren and Lúthien. Garth added: ”Mr. Tolkien felt the kind of joy he must have felt at times he would never feel again.”
That year, Tolkien first wrote about the lovers in The Lay of Leithian, revising the story multiple times. The publication of the original story marks almost 100 years since Tolkien saw Edith dancing in those flows. Also of note, Tolkien’s gravestone in Oxford has the name Beren carved into it, while his wife’s stone has the name Lúthien.Reuse content