The Story of Kullervo is believed to be Tolkien's first piece of fantasy prose:
- To the delight of Tolkien fans, what is believed to be the first fantasy story ever penned by the Lord of the Rings author will be made available to the public this week. The Story of Kullervo – which helped lay the foundations for J.R.R Tolkien's Middle-earth Legendarium – will be published for the first time since it was written over 100 years ago.
- Tolkien started writing The Story of Kullervo in 1914, during his college days at Oxford University. Described by publishers and academics as one of the darkest tales ever written by the author, it is a retelling of part of the Finnish epic poem The Kalevala, one of the most significant works of Finnish literature compiled by Elias Lönnrot in 1849.
- The retelling of the Kalevala follows the tragic story of "Hapless Kullervo", an orphaned boy with supernatural powers who unwittingly seduces his sister before committing suicide. Believed to be Tolkien's first work of prose fantasy, it delves into the author's fascination with lost myths and the preservation of folklore.
- Tolkien described The Story of Kullervo as the "germ of my attempt to write legends of my own" - and it is a foundation stone of Tolkien's invented world. The character of Kullervo is the ancestor of Túrin Turambar, an important character in Tolkien's legendarium who features as the protagonist in the fantasy novel The Children of Hurin and who appears in Tolkien's collection of mythopoeic works, The Simarillion.