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Unseen J.R.R. Tolkien writings to shed new light on his Middle-earth creations

"This new collection is a veritable treasure-trove," said Deb Brody, vice-president at publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Image: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892 - 1973) the South African-born philologist and author of 'The Hobbit' and 'The Lord Of The Rings'.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (1892 - 1973) the South African-born philologist and author of "The Hobbit" and "The Lord Of The Rings."Haywood Magee / Getty Images file

LONDON — Fans of celebrated British author J.R.R. Tolkien known for "The Lord of the Rings" fantasy trilogy are in for an unexpected treat.

Previously unseen collections of writings from the author will be published next year and shed new light on works including "The Lord of the Rings," "The Silmarillion" and "Unfinished Tales," U.S. publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt said Thursday.

"This new collection is a veritable treasure-trove, offering readers a chance to peer over Professor Tolkien's shoulder," Deb Brody, vice-president at publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, said in a statement.

"On every page Middle-earth is once again brought to extraordinary life."

Brody said it was not well-known that the author continued to write about Middle-earth right until the years before his death in 1973. "For him, Middle-earth was part of an entire world to be explored," she added.

The book — titled "The Nature of Middle-earth" — will be published in the U.S. on 24 June 2021 and in the U.K. by HarperCollins, also in June.

It has been edited by Carl F. Hostetter, who previously worked closely with Tolkien's late son, Christopher, and is a member of the Elvish Linguistic Fellowship, a non-profit dedicated to the study of Tolkien's invented languages.

The writings will touch on ideas including Elvish immortality and reincarnation, the powers of the Valar, the beasts of Númenor and the geography of the rivers and beacon-hills of Gondor.

The Tolkien Estate did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Image: A selection of J.R.R. Tolkien's books for sale.
A selection of J.R.R. Tolkien's books for sale.Clarence Williams / Getty Images file

Born in South Africa to English parents, Tolkien, an ardent Catholic, moved to Britain aged three. Later orphaned, he and his brother lived in a boarding-house in Birmingham where he attended school, mastering Latin and Greek and showing remarkable linguistic gifts, before studying at Oxford University.

He later served on the frontline during World War One's Battle of the Somme before returning to Oxford as a professor of Anglo-Saxon, specializing in old and middle English.

Tolkien published "The Hobbit" in 1937 and "The Lord of the Rings" in three parts between 1954 and 1955.

He died in 1973, aged 81, but his works continue to attract fans with more than 150 million copies of "The Lord of the Rings" sold worldwide and major movie adaptations of his work grossing more than $5 billion at global box offices.

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Indiana-based Tolkien fan, Matt Graf, 36, who runs YouTube fan-site "Nerd of the Rings," told NBC News the unearthed writings were a thrilling development.

"For those of us who dive over Tolkien's writings, to have something totally new and fresh, which no one has read before is very exciting," he said.

The new collection will even touch upon which characters had beards, which for Graf is proof that the meticulous author "left no stone unturned" in the "rich world" he created.

During a gloomy year of coronavirus pandemic social restrictions, Graf said he encouraged "escaping to Middle-earth when our world gets a little bit too crazy."

Reuters contributed to this report.