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The Fall of Arthur

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The Fall of Arthur
The Fall of Arthur.jpg
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
EditorChristopher Tolkien
PublisherHarperCollins (UK)
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (US)
Released23 May 2013

The Fall of Arthur is the title of an poem by J.R.R. Tolkien, concerned with the legend of King Arthur. It will be published 23 May 2013.[2]

According to Humphrey Carpenter, who published a few brief extracts from the poem in his biography about Tolkien, the poem "has alliteration but no rhyme [and] did not touch on the Grail but began an individual rendering of the Morte d'Arthur, in which the king and Gawain go to war in 'Saxon lands' but are summoned home by news of Mordred's treachery". "The Fall of Arthur" was read by E.V. Gordon and R.W. Chambers, who both approved of the poem.[3][4]

The writing of the poem was abandoned in the mid 1930s,[3] but in a 1955 letter to Houghton Mifflin, his American publishers, Tolkien mentioned that he hoped to finish the "long poem".[5] Although the state of the manuscript(s) is unknown, there is a rumour that the poem has 954 lines.[6]

Carl F. Hostetter mentions the transcription of a manuscript by Tolkien which seems to be a fragment of his The Fall of Arthur.[7]

From the publisher

The world first publication of a previously unknown work by J.R.R. Tolkien, which tells the extraordinary story of the final days of England’s legendary hero, King Arthur.

The Fall of Arthur recounts in verse the last campaign of King Arthur who, even as he stands at the threshold of Mirkwood is summoned back to Britain by news of the treachery of Mordred. Already weakened in spirit by Guinevere's infidelity with the now-exiled Lancelot, Arthur must rouse his knights to battle one last time against Mordred's rebels and foreign mercenaries.

Powerful, passionate and filled with vivid imagery, The Fall of Arthur reveals Tolkien's gift for storytelling at its brilliant best. Originally composed by J.R.R. Tolkien in the 1930s, this work was set aside for The Hobbit and has lain untouched for 80 years.

Now it has been edited for publication by Tolkien's son, Christopher, who contributes three illuminating essays that explore the literary world of King Arthur, reveal the deeper meaning of the verses and the painstaking work that his father applied to bring it to a finished form, and the intriguing links between The Fall of Arthur and his greatest creation, Middle-earth.

See also

External links


  1. "The Fall of Arthur", (accessed 10 October 2012)
  2. "The Fall of Arthur: J.R.R. Tolkien, Edited by Christopher Tolkien", HarperCollins (accessed 10 October 2012)
  3. 3.0 3.1 Humphrey Carpenter, J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography (1977 ed.), pp. 168-8
  4. Verlyn Flieger, "Arthurian Romance", in J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment, pp. 34-5
  5. J.R.R. Tolkien; Humphrey Carpenter, Christopher Tolkien (eds.), The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 165, (undated, written June 1955)
  6. N.E. Brigand, "Comment to the blog post 'Lewis's Lost Aeneid [Updated]'" dated 5 March 2011, Lingwë (accessed 8 March 2011)
  7. Carl F. Hostetter, "Tolkien's handwriting scans" dated 20 December 2009, The Fountain Pen Network (accessed 4 May 2011)