Sir Thomas Malory, His Turbulent Career: A Biography

By Edward Hicks | Go to book overview

Chapter I
ANCESTRY AND MILITARY CAREER

Bale asserts that the author (of the Morte d'Arthur) was occupied with affairs of State, but practically no definite information is available respecting him outside his book. -- Dictionary of National Biography, concerning Sir Thomas Malory.

PRIOR to the investigations of Professor G. Lyman Kittredge, the identity of Sir Thomas Malory had been a matter of speculation in many quarters. For example, Bishop Bale ( 1495-1563), after declaring "Thomas Mailorius" to be by race and country a Briton, recalled Leland's statement that "Mailoria" was a district within the Welsh borders, not far from the River Dee. But, to quote Professor Kittredge: "Bale's biographical statements are of the good old- fashioned sort, and convey no information. He admits that he does not even know under what king that ' Mailorius' flourished -- something that he might have discovered from the closing words of the Morte." At one time, indeed, it was supposed that Sir Thomas was a Welsh priest -- the "Sir" being regarded as the equivalent of "reverend" in translating dominus. Place-names are very apt to suggest wrong derivations, and a reader of the Morte d'Arthur who knew that in Denbighshire there was a little town named Maelor would be strongly tempted to jump to the conclusion that the author of this, the greatest of English prose romances, came from that place, especially if he were ignorant of the fact that Welshmen did not bear surnames till a good deal later

-7-

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