Page last updated at 12:46 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Early Tolkien work to make debut

JRR Tolkien
JRR Tolkien died in 1973

An early work by Lord of the Rings author JRR Tolkien is to be published for the first time.

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun, a reworking in verse of old Norse epics, predates Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy,

According to the publishers, the book will include an introduction by Tolkien and notes by his son, Christopher.

The book, which was written at least 80 years ago, will be published in the UK by Harper Collins in May.

Tolkien, whose fantasy novels have sold millions of copies around the world, died in 1973.

The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun was written in the 1920s and 1930s, when the author was teaching at Oxford University.

It is not the first time in recent years a new Tolkien work has been published.

In 2007, The Children of Hurin, which Tolkien started writing in 1918, hit shop shelves.

Christopher Tolkien spent 30 years working on the unfinished manuscript, which he edited into a complete work.

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