A few frequently asked questions...
How long did it take Christopher Tolkien to produce The Children of Húrin ?
Without Christopher Tolkien's previous work on his father's papers - starting with The Silmarillion in 1977, and concluding with the 12th volume of The History of Middle-earth, The Peoples of Middle-earth, in 1996 - it would almost certainly have been impossible for him to produce such a faithful and complete version of the tale of the children of Húrin. As such this book can be said to be a culmination of about thirty years’ work.
According to Christopher, the most precise estimate possible would be that to compile the necessary material it took several years of complex work, in the course of his entire study of his father's papers.
Why is it being published now ?
Christopher Tolkien is publishing the book at this time for two main reasons: because he believes that it is a very fine example of his father’s writing, and of his story-telling; and because, being set in an earlier age of Middle-earth, long before the times depicted in The Lord of the Rings, it will open up to those who know only that work and The Hobbit how extensive the History of Middle-earth truly is.
Also, it has always been Christopher's primary concern that J.R.R. Tolkien’s writings should be published in a manner that is appropriate to its subject matter and its essential nature as literature. The world of Middle-earth is seen by many as a playground. The true nature of Tolkien’s invented world and the themes and subject matter of his stories are frequently serious and dark, as The Children of Húrin will show.
Why an illustrated edition ?
We have always admired the work of Alan Lee, ever since he was commissioned to illustrate The Lord of the Rings at the time of J.R.R. Tolkien's centenary. While preparing the story for publication, Christopher decided that to have the book illustrated from first publication would also underline its essential quality as a story rather than a scholarly work. (cont'd)