Hwæt! Beowulf’s back again?

Beowulf, as the oldest work of English literature, has done the rounds. Whether or not you enjoy ploughing through Old English vernacular, its dragons, mead halls and monsters certainly set a precedent in terms of the word ‘epic’.

With translations and interpretations from the great (Seamus Heaney) to the terrible ((yet hilarious) 2007 film starring Ray Winstone), Grendel-geeks have their pick of Beowulf interpretations. Perhaps the most exciting of these, though, is JRR Tolkien’s translation of the epic (that helped inspire The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit), which is soon to be published by HarperCollins for the first time – almost 90 years after he completed it.

Stuart Lee, a member of the English faculty at the University of Oxford, said: “Beowulf was a text that thrilled Tolkien throughout his lifetime. He taught it and studied it and, along with many medieval texts he worked on, they found their way into his fiction” (read more of this here). Apparently the dragons in The Hobbit are taken straight from the dragons in the final section of Beowulf – it should be interesting to see which other of his characters rear their head from the pages of Mr. Tolkien’s translation…

Michael Morpurgo's beautifully illustrated children's version
Michael Morpurgo’s beautifully illustrated children’s version

Kathryn, Publishing Assistant

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