T. H. White

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Terence Hanbury White (29 May 1906 – 17 January 1964) was an English author best known for his sequence of Arthurian novels, The Once and Future King, first published together in 1958.

Contents

Biography

White was born in Bombay, British India to English parents, Garrick Hansbury White, an Indian police superintendent, and Constance White.[2] Terence White had a discordant childhood, with an alcoholic father and an emotionally frigid mother, and his parents separated when Terence was fourteen.[3][4] White went to Cheltenham College in Gloucestershire, a public school, and Queens' College, Cambridge, where he was tutored by the scholar and occasional author L. J. Potts. Potts became a lifelong friend and correspondent, and White later referred to him as "the great literary influence in my life."[3] While at Queens' College, White wrote a thesis on Thomas Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur (without reading it),[5] and graduated in 1928 with a first-class degree in English.[2]

White then taught at Stowe School, Buckinghamshire, for four years. In 1936 he published England Have My Bones, a well-received memoir about a year spent in England. The same year, he left Stowe and lived in a workman's cottage, where he wrote and "revert[ed] to a feral state", engaging in falconry, hunting, and fishing.[2][6] White also became interested in aviation, partly to conquer his fear of heights.[7] White wrote to a friend that in autumn 1937, "I got desperate among my books and picked [Malory] up in lack of anything else. Then I was thrilled and astonished to find that (a) The thing was a perfect tragedy, with a beginning, a middle and an end implicit in the beginning and (b) the characters were real people with recognisable reactions which could be forecast[...] Anyway, I somehow started writing a book."[5] The novel, which White described as "a preface to Malory",[5] was titled The Sword in the Stone and told the story of the boyhood of King Arthur. White was also influenced by Freudian psychology and his lifelong involvement in natural history. The Sword in the Stone was well-reviewed and was a Book of the Month Club selection in 1939.[2]

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