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The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth

The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son is a poem written by J.R.R. Tolkien which was originally published in 1953 in volume 6 of the scholarly journal Essays and Studies by Members of the English Association. It is inspired by an Old English fragment about The Battle of Maldon. It is written in the form of an alliterative poem, but is also a play, being mainly a dialogue between two characters in the aftermath of The Battle of Maldon. The work was accompanied by two essays, also by Tolkien, one before and one after the main work.

The work, as published, was thus presented as:

  • The Death of Beorhtnoth - an introductory essay concerning the battle and the Old English fragment that inspired Tolkien.
  • The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son - the actual work itself.
  • Ofermod - an essay following on from the main work, discussing the meaning of the Old English word ofermod.

The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son is a notable if obscure work of Tolkien's, demonstrating his ability to recreate the alliterative beauty of Old English, yet at the same time deviating from the style in decidedly modern ways.

Extracts from unpublished drafts of The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth were published in Tolkien Studies, Volume 4 .

[edit] Publication history

According to Åke Bertenstam, Tolkien also "...made a recording of the poem, which has never been commercially released, but copies of it on cassette tapes were given by the Tolkien Estate to the participants of the J.R.R. Tolkien Centenary Conference, held in Oxford in August 1992".[1]

[edit] Relationship to the legendarium

The inclusion of the academic essays and the poem in The Tolkien Reader was questioned by Rayner Unwin, who thought it would not fit a "popular anthology".[2] However, Tolkien was of the opinion that these texts were "very germane to the general division of sympathy exhibited in The Lord of the Rings".[3]

[edit] See also


  1. Åke Bertenstam, "A Chronological Bibliography of the Writings of J.R.R. Tolkien (11th edition)" dated 25 December 2015, (accessed 15 December 2016)
  2. Christina Scull and Wayne G. Hammond (2006), The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide: II. Reader's Guide, p. 1024
  3. J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter to Rayner Unwin (25 April 1966)