Thomas Malory

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Sir Thomas Malory (c. 1405 – 14 March 1471) was an English writer, the author or compiler of Le Morte d'Arthur. The antiquary John Leland (1506–1552) as well as John Bale believed him to be Welsh, but most modern scholars, beginning with G.L. Kittridge in 1894,[1] assume that he was Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold Revel in Warwickshire, who was a knight, land-owner and Member of Parliament.[2] The surname appears in various spellings, including, Mallerre, Maillorie, Mallory, Mallery, Maelor, Maleore, and as it seems he may have spelled it,[3] Malleorré. The name comes from the Old French adjective maleüré (from Latin male auguratus) meaning ill-omened or unfortunate.

Contents

Biography

Virtually all that is known about Malory the writer (there were at least six Thomas Malorys alive in the 15th century when Le Morte d'Arthur was written[4]), for certain, is what can be gathered from the prayers in the Winchester Manuscript. At the end of the "Tale of King Arthur," being Books I-IV in Caxton, is written:

"For this was written by a knight prisoner Thomas Malleorre, that God send him good recovery."[5]

At the end of "The Tale of Sir Gareth," Caxton Book VII:

"And I pray you all that readeth this tale to pray for him that this wrote, that God send him good deliverance soon and hastily."[5]

At the conclusion of the "Tale of Sir Tristram," Caxton's VIII-XII:

"Here endeth the second book of Sir Tristram de Lyones, which was drawn out of the French by Sir Thomas Malleorre, knight, as Jesu be his help."[5]

Finally, at the conclusion of the whole book:

"The Most Piteous Tale of the Morte Arthure Sanz Gwerdon par le shyvalere Sir Thomas Malleorre, knight, Jesu aide ly pur votre bon mercy."[5]

However, all these are replaced by Caxton with a final colophon reading:

"I pray you all gentlemen and gentlewomen that readeth this book of Arthur and his knights, from the beginning to the ending, pray for me while I am alive, that God send me good deliverance and when I am dead, I pray you all pray for my soul. For this book was ended the ninth year of the reign of King Edward the Fourth by Sir Thomas Maleore, knight, as Jesu help him for his great might, as he is the servant of Jesu both day and night."[5]

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