Thomas Malory

Malory, Sir Thomas

Sir Thomas Malory (măl´ərē), d. 1471, English author of Morte d'Arthur. It is almost certain that he was Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold Revell, Warwickshire. Knighted in 1442, he served in the parliament of 1445. He was evidently a violent, lawless individual who committed a series of crimes, including poaching, extortion, robbery, rape, and attempted murder. Most of his life from 1451 on was spent in prison, and he probably did most of his writing there. Malory's original book was called The Book of King Arthur and His Noble Knights of the Round Table and was made up of eight romances that were more or less separate. William Caxton printed it in 1485 and gave it the misleading title of Morte d'Arthur. This work is generally regarded as the most significant accomplishment in English literature in the two centuries between the works of Chaucer and those of such masters as Spenser and Shakespeare. The last medieval English work of the Arthurian legend, Malory's tales are supposedly based on an assortment of French prose romances. The Morte d'Arthur is noted for its excellent dramatic narrative and the beauty of its rhythmic and simple language. It remains the standard source for later versions of the legend.

See The Works of Sir Thomas Malory, ed. by E. Vinaver (3 vol., 2d ed. 1967); biographies by P. J. C. Field (1993) and C. Hardyment (2006); studies by W. Matthews (1966), P. J. C. Field (1971), M. Lambert (1975), B. Dillon, ed. (1978), T. Takamiya and D. Brewer (rev. ed. 1986), M. J. Parins, ed. (1988), T. McCarthy (1991), E. Archibald and A. S. G. Edwards, ed. (1996), D. T. Hanks, Jr. (1992 and 2000), M. D. Svogun (2000), E. Edwards (2001), C. Batt (2002), D. Armstrong (2003), N. Dentzien (2004), and K. S. Whetter and R. L. Radulescu, ed. (2005).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2014, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Malory
Eugène Vinaver.
Clarendon Press, 1929
Sir Thomas Malory, His Turbulent Career: A Biography
Edward Hicks.
Harvard University Press, 1928
Sir Thomas Malory: The Critical Heritage
Marylyn Parins.
Routledge, 1995
FREE! Le Morte Darthur of Sir Thomas Malory & Its Sources
Vida D. Scudder.
E.P. Dutton, 1917
FREE! Chivalry in English Literature: Chaucer, Malory, Spenser, and Shakespeare
William Henry Schofield.
Harvard University, 1912
Librarian’s tip: "Malory" begins on p. 75
The Development of Arthurian Romance
Roger Sherman Loomis.
Hutchinson University Library, 1963
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 12 "Sir Thomas Malory"
English Literature at the Close of the Middle Ages
E. K. Chambers.
Oxford University Press, 1945
Librarian’s tip: Chap. IV "Malory"
Chivalry and Violence in Medieval Europe
Richard W. Kaeuper.
Oxford University Press, 1999
Librarian’s tip: "Thomas Malory, Morte d'Arthur" begins on p. 288
Three Medieval Centuries of Literature in England, 1100-1400
Charles Sears Baldwin.
Little, Brown, 1932
Librarian’s tip: "Malory's Morte d'Arthur" begins on p. 133
The Indian Summer of English Chivalry: Studies in the Decline and Transformation of Chivalric Idealism
Arthur B. Ferguson.
Duke University Press, 1960
Librarian’s tip: Discussion of Thomas Malory begins on p. 43
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