Sir Thomas Malory|
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
D'arthur," 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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