FOR decades, JRR Tolkien’s painstaking writings on Chaucer remained forgotten at Oxford University Press.

Now, detective work by an American academic has uncovered the fantasy author’s previously unpublished Clarendon Chaucer, and a new book will reveal his conclusions.

The Lord of the Rings author abandoned the study after 30 years but later this year it will gain recognition when Tolkien’s Lost Chaucer by Prof John Bowers is published.

The new study will show how Tolkien was influenced by Chaucer, the author of The Canterbury Tales, considered by many the best poet of the Middle Ages.

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Prof Bowers told how he was astonished to open a box in the archives of the publisher in Walton Street to find hundreds of pages, which he described as “a treasure trove alerting us to a new collection of ingredients previously unrecognised in his writings”.

The Oxford Times:

The academic said as the life of the author of The Hobbit, an Oxford University professor, had been so carefully documented it was remarkable that the manuscript on Chaucer had been overlooked.

He told the Observer: “Readers have lost an important sense of Tolkien with a deep debt to the 14th century author.

“Now we’ve got a previously unappreciated source for his fiction. Tolkien fans are always curious about where he was getting his inspiration.”

The Oxford Times:

Prof Bowers, a professor of English Literature at the University of Nevada in Las Vegas, suggested that Chaucer’s Pardoner’s Tale, in which two men find a golden treasure, helped to inspire The Lord of the Rings.

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Most of Tolkien’s Clarendon’s Chaucer was written in the 1920s but in 1951 he returned everything to his publisher, refusing to cut his notes from 160 pages to 20. Tolkien died in 1973.

Prof Bowers research began when he spotted references to a Clarendon Chaucer.

The material was discovered in 2012 but it has taken until now to complete the book.

Oxford University Press said: “Tolkien’s Lost Chaucer reveals the story of Tolkien’s unpublished and previously unknown book hidden in the Oxford University Press archives

The Oxford Times:

“It explores Tolkien’s annotated proofs and accompanying notes for the Clarendon Chaucer edition that he abandoned in 1951 after almost 30 years of work.

Prof Bowers' new book will be published in September by OUP.