J.R.R. Tolkien Book Inspired by His Wife Hits Shelves for the First Time

Alan Lee, Harper Collins // Fair Use
Alan Lee, Harper Collins // Fair Use / Alan Lee, Harper Collins // Fair Use

When J.R.R. Tolkien died in 1973, he left behind an unpublished body of writing that’s still being sorted through today. The latest posthumous work from the author is a fantasy story inspired by his wife, Edith. As the BBC reports, Harper Collins is releasing the book, titled Beren and Lúthien, to the public for the first time this June.

Tolkien dreamt up the novel a century ago, after returning from the Battle of Somme in World War I. It returns to Middle-earth and tells the love story of Lúthien, an immortal elf, and Beren, a mortal man.

One of the most striking visuals from the book was inspired by a walk the author took with his wife. In the East Yorkshire woods one day the couple came upon a clearing of white flowers and Edith stopped to dance. Tolkien recreated this scene in Beren and Lúthien. The parallels between the couples are so strong that the names Beren and Lúthien are inscribed on the Tolkiens’ shared gravestone in Wolvercote Cemetery in Oxford.

Álida Carvalho, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Material from the unedited story appears in The Silmarillion, one of the most famous Tolkien works released after his death. The author’s 92-year-old son Christopher Tolkien edited the book to tie it into The Silmarillion while still maintaining the original story. Beren and Lúthien—with illustrations by Alan Lee, conceptual designer of The Lord of the Rings movies—hits stores today, June 1.

[h/t BBC]