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New Tolkien book: The Nature of Middle-earth

HarperCollins has announced a new Tolkien publication to be published on 24 June 2021. The book, The Nature of Middle-earth, is edited by Tolkien scholar Carl Hostetter and has been heralded as an unofficial 13th volume of The History of Middle-earth series.

Cover of The Nature of Middle-earth, with artwork by Ted Nasmith

First rumoured earlier this year, the book will cover the some previous unpublished writings by J.R.R. Tolkien, who continued to be produce materials on Middle-earth right up until the year he died in 1973. Much of these materials have been published in Unfinished Tales, The History of Middle-earth, The Children of Húrin, Beren and Lúthien and The Fall of Gondolin, which were all edited by Christopher Tolkien during his lifetime.

However, the new book reveals that there is still more untapped material around. The book includes a number of topics that Tolkien fans have long debated over, including Elvish immortality, the lands of Númenor and Gondor, the nature of the Valar, and even who could grow beards. The book looks set to resolve a number of debates amongst Tolkien fans.

The book is edited by Carl F. Hostetter, a Tolkien scholar who has been previously entrusted with the Tolkien’s linguistic materials which he has published in the journal Vinyar Tengwar. Hostetter has also co-edited Tolkien’s Legendarium: Essays on The History of Middle-earth, and has contributed to Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth, Tolkien Studies and Parma Eldalamberon amongst others.

Chris Smith, deputy editor at HarperCollins, said the book offers a “veritable treasure trove offering readers a chance to peer over Professor Tolkien’s shoulder at the very moment of discovery: and on every page, Middle-earth is once again brought to extraordinary life. For him, Middle-earth was part of an entire world to be explored, and the writings in The Nature of Middle-earth reveal the journeys that he took as he sought to better understand his unique creation.”

Commenting on this, chair of the Tolkien Society, Shaun Gunner, said:

“This is fantastic news. Many people wrongly assume that all Tolkien’s works have been fully published: this proves they couldn’t be more wrong. Although we have a significant number of works published by Tolkien and his son Christopher, there are a huge number of unanswered questions about MIddle-earth: this will answer some of those questions. Tolkien has been gone for nearly 50 years, but he is still able to delight, intrigue and excite fans through his works.

The Nature of Middle-earth will be published by HarperCollins and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on 24 June 2021.

About the Author: Shaun Gunner
Shaun is the Chair of The Tolkien Society. First elected in 2013, Shaun has overseen the Society's expansion from 600 to 3,500 members. Shaun regularly speaks about adaptations of Tolkien's works and the future of Tolkien scholarship whilst passionately believing the Society needs to reach out to new audiences. In his spare time he can be found playing video games and Lego, or on Twitter. He chaired another charity, Mankind, and is a local councillor.