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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 May, 2003, 16:55 GMT 17:55 UK
Tolkien's Rings reading unearthed
JRR Tolkien
JRR Tolkien reads in one of his elfish languages
The British Library has unearthed readings by literary giants including JRR Tolkien, Virginia Woolf and Robert Browning for release on a CD.

Tolkien can be heard reading from The Fellowship of the Ring, including a sample of one of the elf languages, or "Elvish", he created.

Poet Browning's contribution is one of the world's earliest sound recordings, dating back to 1889, and is among other rare readings including those from Alfred Tennyson and Arthur Conan Doyle.

Many of the recordings originate from wax cylinders, while others come from private and family recordings, rare radio broadcasts, acetates and 78rpm discs.

Richard Fairman of the British Library said: "We have selected the best of some of the most rare recordings in our collections that we hope will throw light on some aspect of a writer's life or work."

Each of the writers and poets chosen for the CDs were born before 1900.

PG Wodehouse, famed for his novels about Jeeves and Wooster, features with an extract from one of five controversial wartime broadcasts from Berlin on German Radio in 1941.

Having been captured in France a year earlier by the advancing Germany army and incarcerated, he was then asked to make the broadcasts.

His decision to agree caused dismay in the UK and only one section of the five broadcasts still survives.

Another rare item is a recording of Vita Sackville-West reading from a manuscript copy of Virginia Woolf's Orlando.

Epic poem

And Woolf herself features in an extract from the sole surviving recording of the writer in a BBC recording, while Conan Doyle can be heard talking about the creation of Sherlock Holmes.

Tennyson can also be heard reading from his poem Charge Of The Light Brigade in 1890 and there is an extract from the only surviving recording of Rudyard Kipling reading his own work.

Visitors to the library can hear many of the recordings in the entrance hall.

Wilde libel papers go on show
09 Apr 03  |  Arts
Rare Woolf manuscripts bought
04 Apr 03  |  Arts

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