Thomas Malory

English writer, author of Le Morte d'Arthur (1405–1471)

Sir Thomas Malory (c. 1405 – 14 March 1471) was an English author. His prose epic Le Morte d'Arthur, written during a long imprisonment in Newgate Prison as a captured partisan of the Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick during the Wars of the Roses, covers the careers of King Arthur and his knights. It is largely a free translation of various French romances.

In the midst of the lake Arthur was ware of an arm clothed in white samite, that held a fair sword in that hand.



Le Morte d'Arthur (c. 1469) (first known edition 1485)

The month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit…
  • It befell in the days of Uther Pendragon, when he was king of all England, and so reigned, that there was a mighty duke in Cornwall that held war against him long time. And the duke was called the duke of Tintagil.
    • Book I, ch. 1
  • Well, said Merlin, I know whom thou seekest, for thou seekest Merlin; therefore seek no farther, for I am he.
    • Book I, ch. 1
  • Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil, is rightwise the King born of all England.
    • Book I, ch. 5
  • Then were they afeard when they saw a knight.
    • Book I, ch. 23
  • In the midst of the lake Arthur was ware of an arm clothed in white samite, that held a fair sword in that hand.
    • Book I, ch. 25
  • With that truncheon thou hast slain a good knight, and now it sticketh in thy body.
    • Book II, ch. 14
  • Knight, keep well thy head, for thou shalt have a buffet for the slaying of my horse.
    • Book III, ch. 12
  • Always Sir Arthur lost so much blood that it was a marvel he stood on his feet, but he was so full of knighthood that knightly he endured the pain.
    • Book IV, ch. 9
  • What, nephew, said the king, is the wind in that door?
    • Book VII, ch. 34
  • The joy of love is too short, and the sorrow thereof, and what cometh thereof, dureth over long.
    • Book X, ch. 56
  • The month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in likewise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds. For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May.
    • Book XVIII, ch. 25
  • Nowadays men cannot love seven night but they must have all their desires: that love may not endure by reason; for where they be soon accorded and hasty, heat soon it cooleth. Right so fareth love nowadays, soon hot soon cold: this is no stability. But the old love was not so.
    • Book XVIII, ch. 25
  • All ye that be lovers call unto your remembrance the month of May, like as did Queen Guenever, for whom I make here a little mention, that while she lived she was a true lover, and therefore she had a good end.
    • Book XVIII, ch. 25
  • Through this man (Launcelot) and me (Guenever) hath all this war been wrought, and the death of the most noblest knights of the world; for through our love that we have loved together is my most noble lord slain.
    • Book XXI, ch. 9
  • For as well as I have loved thee, mine heart will not serve me to see thee, for through thee and me is the flower of kings and knights destroyed.
    • Book XXI, ch. 9
  • Then Sir Launcelot saw her visage, but he wept not greatly, but sighed.
    • Book XXI, ch. 11
  • Thou Sir Launcelot, there thou liest, that thou were never matched of earthly knight's hand. And thou were the courteoust knight that ever bare shield. And thou were the truest friend to thy lover that ever bestrad horse. And thou were the truest lover of a sinful man that ever loved woman. And thou were the kindest man that ever struck with sword. And thou were the goodliest person that ever came among press of knights. And thou were the meekest man and the gentlest that ever ate in hall among ladies. And thou were the sternest knight to thy mortal foe that ever put spear in the rest.
    • Book XXI, ch. 13

Quotes about Malory

  • For herein may be seen noble chivalry, courtesy, humanity, friendliness, hardiness, love, friendship, cowardice, murder, hate, virtue, and sin. Do after the good and leave the evil, and it shall bring you to good fame and renown.
    • William Caxton's "Preface" to the first edition of Le Morte d'Arthur (1485)
  • In our forefathers' time...few books were read in our tongue, saving certain books of one for example, Morte Arthure: the whole pleasure of which book standeth in two special points, in open manslaughter, and bold bawdry: In which book those be counted the noblest Knights, that do kill most men without any quarrel, and commit foulest adulteries by subtlest shifts...This is good stuff for wise men to laugh at, or honest men to take pleasure at. Yet I know, when God's Bible was banished the Court, and Morte Arthure received into the Prince's chamber.
    • Roger Ascham The Schoolmaster (1570)
  • Malory's description of himself as "the servant of Jesu both day and night" has been assumed to imply that he was a priest, but his description of himself as a "knight" confutes the suggestion. Pious ejaculation at the conclusion of their labours is characteristic of medieval authors.
    • Sidney Lee, in The Dictionary of National Biography

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