The original manuscript for J.R.R Tolkien’s The Fall of Arthur will go on display today at the Magical Books: from the Middle Ages to Middle-earth at Oxford’s Bodleian Library exhibition. The library will feature works from the group of writers informally known as the ‘Oxford School’: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Susan Cooper, Alan Garner and Philip Pullman. On display will be a selection of Tolkien’s original artwork for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings; C.S. Lewis’s ‘Lefay notebook’ and his map of Narnia, and manuscripts of novels and poems by Alan Garner, Philip Pullman and Susan Cooper. These will be accompanied by manuscripts on myth, legend and magic that the authors drew inspiration from.
The exhibition coincides with the release of the eagerly-awaited Fall of Arthur. Tolkien evidently began it in the earlier nineteen-thirties, but abandoned it. While the date is unknown, there is some evidence that it may have been in 1937, the year of the publication of The Hobbit and the first stirrings of The Lord of the Rings.
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.