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Revisiting Classics: HarperCollins to Publish a New Silmarillion with Tolkien Illustrations

By Louise Taillandier

A new edition of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion will hit the shelves in October 2022, for the first time since its original publication in 1977.

The book, which was started during the First World War, was famously left unfinished by its author, but his son and literary executor completed and published the work. The Silmarillion is a collection of stories detailing the complex mythology that Tolkien’s work is based on. In this unique book, the history of Eä, the universe in which Middle-earth is situated, is written by a number of fictional authors and seemingly edited by Bilbo Baggins. This monumental work was meant to follow the release of The Hobbit but was refused by Tolkien's publisher, Stanley Unwin, who deemed it “too Celtic” and “obscure”. It was this refusal which prompted J. R. R. Tolkien to start writing The Lord of the Rings. While the book did not sell particularly well in 1977, it has gained popularity with fans of Tolkien's world over the years and serves as an incredible example of world-building for writers and academics.

The author often drew pictures to accompany his writing, but it is the first time that these illustrations will be published alongside the work. Deputy publishing director Chris Smith explains:

"The art that complemented and enhanced these tales would only be seen in fragments over the following years, in calendars or in academic works, and it was not until the record-breaking exhibitions of 2018 that a new global audience would finally be able to appreciate J. R. R. Tolkien's extraordinary artistic achievement."

This overwhelmingly positive response resulted in the first ever edition of The Lord of the Rings illustrated by its author, which proved hugely popular with readers around the world, and it is with great pleasure that we are now able to accompany this with an edition of The Silmarillion, at last presented with a wonderful selection of J. R. R. Tolkien's paintings, drawings and designs that capture the beauty and drama of the First and Second Ages of Middle-earth.

The translation rights in all languages for Tolkien's oeuvre are owned by HarperCollins. So far, The Silmarillion has been translated into around forty languages. In comparison, both The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit have been translated into over seventy languages. This edition will be published in other countries soon after its release in the UK.


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