The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth

Written by:
J. R. R. Tolkien
Narrated by:
Christopher Tolkien

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date
March 2023
0 hours 57 minutes
First ever audio edition of one of J.R.R. Tolkien’s most important poetic dramas, that explores timely themes such as the nature of heroism and chivalry during war.

The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm’s Son was originally published in the 1953 edition of Essays and Studies. In December of that year, J.R.R. Tolkien took possession of a reel-to-reel tape recorder and, some time during the first few months of 1954, decided to record ‘the whole thing on tape’ as a way of ‘testing’ the performative quality of the dramatic dialogue between Tídwald and Torhthelm.

For the older Tídwald, Tolkien adopted a slower, deeper voice, perhaps akin to ‘the voice of Gandalf’ that W.H. Auden recalls hearing as an undergraduate, as noted in Humphrey Carpenter’s J.R.R. Tolkien, A Biography. For the younger, more idealistic Torhthelm, Tolkien used a lighter, more spirited tone to convey his youth. Christopher Tolkien notes that his father added sound effects, such as the ‘creaking and bumping of the waggon wheels, by moving a piece of furniture in his study’.

This recording, together with an introduction and the two accompanying essays read by Christopher Tolkien, was released on cassette tape in 1992, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of J.R.R. Tolkien and the 1001st anniversary of the Battle of Maldon. It was presented as a gift to the participants of the Tolkien Centenary Conference, Keble College, Oxford, and is now available as an audiobook for the first time.
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