Ascham (1515-68), classical scholar, reformist, tutor to Elizabeth I, worked on The Scholemaster, which contains his famous denunciation of the Morte Darthur, from around 1563 until his death. It was first published in 1570; however, the sentiment expressed had been anticipated in a much earlier work on archery, Toxophilis, published in 1545.
Both selections are from The English Works of Roger Ascham, ed. William Aldis Wright (Cambridge University Press, 1904), pp. xiv-xv and 230-1.
Englysh writers by diuerisitie of tyme haue taken diuerse matters in hande. In our fathers tyme nothing was red, but bookes of fayned cheualrie, wherin a man by redinge, shuld be led to none other ende, but onely to manslaughter and baudrye. Yf any man suppose they were good ynough to passe the time with al, he is deceyued. For surelye vayne woordes doo woorke no smal thinge in vayne, ignoraunt, and younge mindes, specially yf they be gyuen any thynge thervnto of theyr owne nature. These bokes (as I haue heard say) were made the moste parte in Abbayes, and Monasteries, a very lickely and fit fruite of suche an ydle and blynde kinde of lyuynge.
(b) The Scholemaster
In our forefathers tyme, whan Papistrie, as a standyng poole, couered and ouerflowed all England, fewe bookes were read in our tong, sauyng certaine bookes of Cheualrie, as they sayd, for pastime and pleasure, which, as some say, were made in Monasteries, by idle Monkes, or wanton Chanons: as one for example, Morte Arthure: the whole pleasure of which booke