Tolkien publications for 2009 by Harper Collins - Q&A with David Brawn (12.02.09 by Pieter Collier) - Comments

Some weeks ago I wrote down an overview of the best Tolkien books of 2008. Now it is time to look forward and see what new publications we can expect this year. Just as the last few years I contacted David Brawn, the publishing director of Harper Collins, to get some more information. The questions were sent before I announced the 2010 Tolkien Calendar and Diary, as well as the announcement of the hardback and super deluxe edition of The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun. Here follows some more info on the new Tolkien books that will be released this year.

2009 will be very exciting for the Tolkien fans and as you will read, we are in for some nice surprises.

Interview with David Brawn

TL. It is now February, so let us start talking about a bookset that has been released in December 2008, The Children of Hurin Paper back set. Do you have any info on that set? It seems only available from German bookdealers.

DB. The Children of Hurin paperback, boxed with The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, has been produced for sale specifically in non English-speaking markets, where the price of English language books is often prohibitive and these books are rarely available for sale in English. It was released in December and is not otherwise widely available.

TL. April will bring us a paperback of Tales from the Perilous Realm: Roverandom and Other Classic Faery Stories.Tales from the Perilous RealmWill this match any other paperback, like the Alan Lee Children of Hurin paperback? Is this a new edition; will there be done any corrections in the text and maybe some corrections?

DB. This book is a paperback edition of the hardback and matches the other paperbacks illustrated by Alan Lee (and The Silmarillion paperback by Ted Nasmith). Its contents are identical to the hardback, with one small text correction.

TL. May seems to be the big Tolkien month, with the release of the previously unpublished "The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrun". Was this book edited by Christopher Tolkien on his own, or did he have any help from Adam Tolkien?

DB. Adam Tolkien has not been involved in the writing of this book, though he is working once again behind the scenes on other matters.

TL. Will there be made just a hardback, or do you think there will be enough interest to also release a 'special' edition or a 'deluxe edition?

DB. As for The Children of Hurin, there will be a hardback edition, a deluxe edition, a leatherbound edition, and an audiobook. Specifications and dates for each of these will be revealed shortly. There will not be a large print edition, but there may be something else instead...

TL. Will the book be illustrated and if so... Is it John Howe who will do the honors?

DB. This is not an illustrated book in the Alan Lee style, but the book has a small number of decorative illustrations by an artist called Bill Sanderson, which are historically appropriate and very striking.

TL. Can we expect the Tolkien Calendar 2010 (and Diary) to match the new Tolkien book, and so for the first time be 'not Middle-earth related'?

DB. No. As you have already featured on the site, Ted Nasmith will be illustrating the 2010 calendar and diary, which will include a selection of Middle-earth landscapes, some published for the first time. Feedback suggests that his 2009 calendar has proved to be extremely popular with fans.

TL. Do you think that the new book will be as successful as The Children of Hurin?

DB. The new book is entirely different to The Children of Hurin, but no less interesting or appealing. It is a significant publication, as it casts light on an aspect of Tolkien's work that has not hitherto been focused on, and was clearly for him a remarkable labour of love and an amazing accomplishment. It's very powerful stuff and the book will be 384 pages, so not as thin as some people have been speculating.

TL. And can we expect more books like this in the future?

DB. I have no idea. Didn’t you ask me that when we published The Children of Hurin?

TL. Now let us move up to June when there will be released a collector's package of The Road Goes Ever on and on: The Map of Tolkien's Middle-Earth.The Road goes ever On and OnIt seems this will be a special edition? Can you tell some more about it?

DB. People who remember John Howe's The Map of Middle-earth from the early 1990s, with its insightful Lord of the Rings primer/gazetteer by Brian Sibley, will recognize this. The material has been revised and is being re-presented in a new format which we hope will attract new readers. In the 1990s it was probably the most successful of all the Tolkien spin-off publications, and it's great to be bringing it back with a new look. The title is taken from the original title of the booklet in the map, which we felt was more evocative than just 'The Map of…', as the publication is - and always was - more than just a map. The companion books/maps by Howe and Sibley (The Hobbit and Beleriand) will be reissued in 2010 in this new format to create a collectable trio.

TL. October seems to bring us a reprint of Letters from Father Christmas;Letters from Father Christmas or will this year be made another revising of this lovely book?

DB. This year will see Letters from Father Christmas released for the first time in a standard B-format edition, which we hope will introduce the work to readers who have never considered buying the large format. It will include the illustrations, and the larger hardback edition will still be available for those who prefer it.

TL. It must be for sure that there are other books coming out this year... For example this year it was 70 years ago that Tolkien published "The Reeve’s Tale" ( Version Prepared for Summer Diversions, Oxford), maybe it would be great to have such a rare piece republished?  Farmer Giles of Ham will become 60 this year and would be nice to have in a 'special' edition!

DB. To mark its 60th anniversary, Farmer Giles of Ham - the 50th Anniversary Edition60th anniversary, Farmer Giles of Ham with notes by Hammond & Scull - has been reprinted in hardback with a new jacket - only 500 copies have been printed.

TL. Pictures by J.R.R.Tolkien also celebrates, 30 years already, can we expect a new edition of this book? Even Oliphaunt, published in 1989, already is 20 years old... I heard rumors that a reprint would be made of the poem. Can we expect anything there?

DB. Not this year. But Tree and Leaf has just been reprinted with a new cover and will be in the shops any day now.

TL. Are there by chance any other books I missed, or that you know are on the list to be released and the Tolkien community should know about? I'm especially thinking of 'special' editions that can come on sale through the new tolkien.co.uk webstore?

DB. Possibly. We don’t want to flood the market with special editions, but there are obviously various options which we are considering. And we are open to suggestions...


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