MALLORIE

SIR THOMAS MALORY "le morte darthur"

Sir Thomas Malory (d. 1471?) Author of the most famous and influential
prose version of the legends of King Arthur, about whom little personal
information is known. The title, "Le Morte Darthur", is taken from the
epilogue of William Caxton's landmark illustrated edition of 1485. The
epilogue tells us that "this book was ended the ninth year of the reign of King
Edward the Fourth (either 1469 or 1470), by Sir Thomas Maleore (one of
the variant spellings of Malory), knight."

"Le Morte Darthur" was written in English and consists of eight tales in 507
chapters in 21 books, so arranged by Caxton, for clarity of understanding. It
is the basis of most modern tellings of the Arthurian story and was the
inspiration for Tennyson's "Idylls of the King."

Early in the text of "Le Morte Darthur", the author refers to himself as a
knight-prisoner. In reaction to this statement, it has been suggested that
perhaps some or all of "Le Morte Darthur" was written while Malory was in
prison. Certainties about Malory's life are few, although there has been some
intelligent speculation centering around a Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold
Revel in Warwickshire. This knight had some difficulties with a local priory
(and possibly some misadventures caused by the swirling tides of
Lancastrian-Yorkist politics) resulting in a period of imprisonment (there are
records confirming several periods of confinement for Malory in London's
Newgate Prison).

 

 

 

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