A Return to the Bookshelves for J.R.R Tolkien with The Story of Kullervo

42 years after his death, beloved author J.R.R Tolkien is making a triumphant return to the bookshelves with the release of The Story of Kullervo.

The author penned the book early on in his career and fans will be able to get their hands and eyes on it when Harper Collins release it on 26th August.

Kullervo, son of Kalervo, is perhaps the darkest and most tragic of all Tolkien’s characters, with Tolkien calling him, ‘Hapless Kullervo’, is a luckless orphan boy with supernatural powers and a tragic destiny. The book revisits some of Tolkien’s favourite fantasy scenes with Kullervo being brought up in the homestead of the dark magician Untamo, who killed his father, kidnapped his mother, and who tries three times to kill him when still a boy.

Tolkien’s Kullervo is the ancestor of Túrin Turambar, tragic incestuous hero of The Silmarillion.

It’s said that Tolkien’s own words about The Story of Kullervo were that “the germ of my attempt to write legends of my own”, and was “a major matter in the legends of the First Age”.

You can pre-order your copy of the upcoming release here.

We think that any Tolkien or fantasy fan will love it! Particularly fans in Brazil, who have played their own part in the publication of The Story of Kullervo.

Brazil you ask? Well did you know that until the end of the 20th Century, the works of Tolkien weren’t recognised in Brazil as being great. His books were usually read by people who had a good routine of reading or youngsters who used to play RPG. The big push came with the film release of Lord of The Rings, which we know was a big success and so was one of the most brilliant era in Brazil for Tolkien-happenings.


After the release of the final movie, the intensity was not the same. And gradually, the “Tolkien culture” was fading, reduced, but never abandoned and so the Tolkien Brasil website was founded with the idea of Tolkien’s works becoming more known across Brazil. With this in mind, the website began a study group of Beowulf and the Kalevala, the epic Finnish work that influenced J.R.R. Tolkien during his youth and that contributed to the making of his idolised books.

Some of the materials involved within the study meetings were Tolkien´s own texts about the Kalevala and “The Story of Kullervo”, which had already been published in 2010 in the journal periodic called Tolkien Studies and so it became the mission to gather material and publish it together with academic essays. The proposal was put forward to Tolkien’s estate on the condition that there would be a limit of 100 copies for publication.

In 2013, the website contacted Verlyn Flieger (editor) who replied with:

We’d be happy to have the Kullervo material translated into Portuguese.

The next step was to gain the full approval of the Tolkien estate. The Tolkien Estate is the organisation by the heirs of Tolkien and takes care of copyright of all the material left by the author. Since the passing of the author, the main director is Christopher Tolkien, who strongly protects the works of his father. So you’d think getting that approval would be a challenge, right?


The project was approved with the provision of conditions and the project took great shape with the support of and contributions from Wayne G. Hammond, John Garth and Christina Scull. Soon the site searched for an illustrator and found one in Jay Johnstone. Next was the translation from English to Portuguese which was done by Sérgio Ramos, Mônica Peli and her sister Márcia Peli, and the final review would be made by Débora Souza.

The project continued to take great shape and December 2014 brought the news of The Story of Kullervo’s publication by Harper Collins. This therefore meant it would be published by an official publisher in Brazil, so in the words of Tolkien Society, the project would not need to be published any more because the objective would have been achieved.

Knowing Harper Collins intentions, Tolkien Society are understandably thrilled that their project and good intentions will have contributed to the stories being published in large scale and so the whole world will read the writings of Tolkien.

Tolkien Society decided to send the Tolkien Estate a new email to discover more about the Harper Collins publication and received this in their reply:

The editor, Verlyn Flieger, proposed its publication as a book some years ago, though her proposal was only taken up by the Tolkien Estate relatively recently.

However, your interest in the work, which was communicated to the UK publishers, HarperCollins, will, I’m sure, have contributed to the prospect of the translation of the work into Portuguese for Brazilian readers by HarperCollins’ local publishing partners.

We’re sure the Tolkien Society celebrated their efforts and the future publishing prospects after reading that!

The site were fortunate enough to correspond with Tolkien’s daughter, Priscilla and were granted permission to share content from her replying letter on their site.

Greetings to all admirers of my father, J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. I am delighted that there are so many people in Brazil who love and enjoy his stories. It is a remarkable tribute to his gifts as writer and illustrator that his work has touched so many people’s lives throughout the world.

We thought this story was fascinating and it truly shares the real love of reading and classic authors across the globe.



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