The Story of Kullervo

From Tolkien Gateway
The Story of Kullervo
The Story of Kullervo hardcover.jpg
AuthorJ.R.R. Tolkien
EditorVerlyn Flieger
PublisherHarperCollins (UK)
Houghton Mifflin (US)
Released27 August 2015 (UK)
5 April 2016 (US)
FormatHardcover,; paperback; deluxe edition

The Story of Kullervo is a collection of several texts by J.R.R. Tolkien, including the prose story of Kullervo, an ill-fated character in the Kalevala, the Finnish national epic compiled by Elias Lönnrot. The book was published in 2015, edited by Verlyn Flieger with commentaries and notes.

The texts were written by Tolkien when he was an undergraduate at Exeter College, Oxford, from 1914 to 1915. It was an unsettled period for him and this is thought to be reflected in the story's dark subject matter.[1]

The story is significant in the development of Tolkien’s legendarium as it provided the basis for Túrin Turambar, a tragic hero of The Silmarillion and The Children of Húrin.


The main contents of the book are:

  • The Story of Kullervo (Kalervonpoika)
    • Notes and commentary
  • On 'The Kalevala' or Land of Heroes — (manuscript draft)
    • Notes and commentary
  • The Kalevala — (typescript draft)
    • Notes and commentary
  • Tolkien, The Kalevala, and 'The Story of Kullervo' — by Verlyn Flieger

Pre-publication history[edit]

In a 1914 letter to Edith Bratt, Tolkien mentions that he is "trying to turn one of the stories [of the Kalevala] — which is really a very great story and most tragic — into a short story".[2] Humphrey Carpenter notes that "'The Story of Kullervo', was never finished, but proved to be the germ of the story of Túrin Turambar in The Silmarillion".[3]

The manuscript remained unpublished for many years, but was finally published in 2010 in Tolkien Studies: Volume 7, edited and with commentaries by Verlyn Flieger, who has also edited Smith of Wootton Major and Tolkien On Fairy-stories.

In 2013, Eduardo Oliveira Ferreira presented an academic project to The Tolkien Estate, entitled "The Story of Kullervo", with contributions from Verlyn Flieger, John Garth, Wayne G. Hammond, Christina Scull and Shaun Gunner. The English and Portuguese bilingual book was approved by The Tolkien Estate on the condition that it be limited to 100 copies with the final text being subject to the Estate's scrutiny. However, when The Story of Kullervo was confirmed by HarperCollins publishers, Oliveira Ferreira's project was cancelled.[4]


"The germ of my attempt to write legends of my own to fit my private languages was the tragic tale of the hapless Kullervo in the Finnish Kalevala. It remains a major matter in the legends of the First Age (which I hope to publish as The Silmarillion)."
—J.R.R. Tolkien, Letter 257

Publication history and gallery[edit]

2015 hardcover  
2016 hardcover deluxe edition  
2018 paperback  

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


A J.R.R. Tolkien book guide
Books by Tolkien or based on his writings
Of Arda Authorized by
J.R.R. Tolkien
The Hobbit · The Lord of the Rings
(i.The Fellowship of the Ring · ii.The Two Towers · iii.The Return of the King) ·
The Road Goes Ever On · Bilbo's Last Song
Edited by Christopher Tolkien The Silmarillion · Unfinished Tales · The History of Middle-earth series
(i.The Book of Lost Tales: Part One · ii.The Book of Lost Tales: Part Two · iii.The Lays of Beleriand ·
iv.The Shaping of Middle-earth · v.The Lost Road and Other Writings · vi.The Return of the Shadow ·
vii.The Treason of Isengard · viii.The War of the Ring · ix.Sauron Defeated · x.Morgoth's Ring ·
xi.The War of the Jewels · xii.The Peoples of Middle-earth · Index) ·
The Children of Húrin · Beren and Lúthien · The Fall of Gondolin
Edited by others The Annotated Hobbit · The History of The Hobbit · The Nature of Middle-earth · The Fall of Númenor
Not of Arda Short stories
and poems
Leaf by Niggle · Farmer Giles of Ham · Smith of Wootton Major · The Adventures of Tom Bombadil ·
Letters from Father Christmas · Mr. Bliss · Roverandom ·
Tree and Leaf (compilation) · Tales from the Perilous Realm (compilation)
Fictions The Legend of Sigurd and Gudrún · The Fall of Arthur · The Story of Kullervo · The Lay of Aotrou and Itroun
Translations and academic works Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, Pearl, and Sir Orfeo · Finn and Hengest: The Fragment and the Episode ·
Beowulf: A Translation and Commentary · The Monsters and the Critics, and Other Essays ·
Tolkien On Fairy-stories · A Secret Vice: Tolkien on Invented Languages
Other The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien
Books by other authors
Reference book The Complete Guide to Middle-earth
Scholarly books containing Tolkien's writings J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography · The Inklings · The Road to Middle-earth ·
A Question of Time · Tolkien and the Great War ·
The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion · The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide
Scholarly journal containing Tolkien's writings Tolkien Studies various issues
Other published works by Tolkien
Linguistic journals Vinyar Tengwar issues 1-50 · Parma Eldalamberon issues 1-22
Collections of artwork
and manuscripts
Pictures by J.R.R. Tolkien · Tolkien: Life and Legend · J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator ·
The Art of The Hobbit · The Art of The Lord of the Rings · Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth ·
Tolkien: Treasures · J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript
This list only includes the major published works, for the full bibliography of Tolkien, see here or here