New Tolkien book discovered at

A US academic, Michael Drout, found the Tolkien material by accident in a box of papers at the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

An assistant professor of English at Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts, Dr Drout was researching Anglo- Saxon scholarship at the Bodleian, and asked to see a copy of a lecture on Beowulf given by Tolkien in 1936.

It was brought to him in a reading room in a large box. Professor Drout, who reads Anglo-Saxon prose to his two-year-old daughter at bedtime, said: “I was sitting there going through the transcripts when I saw these four bound volumes at the bottom of the box.

“I started looking through, and realised I had found an entire book of material that had never seen the light of day. As I turned the page, there was Tolkien’s fingerprint in a smudge of ink.”

The book is a translation of Beowulf and a critical analyis. I must admit, peronally, that holds more appeal than more of the prefatory or accompanying notes and so forth for LOTR and The Silmarillion… So maybe.

As I noted earlier, I was excited to recognize the way in which Tolkien borrowed and adapted genuinely antique material to create his work – this might be a chance to see him looking directly as that material with no stage management.

(For some reason I’m prompted to note that the Beatles film Yellow Submarine is vaguely based on Beowulf. According to family legend that’s the first movie I ever saw – in Santiago, Chile in 1969.)