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Thomas Malory

Sir Thomas Malory (c.1405 - 1471) was the author or compiler of Le Morte D'Arthur. The antiquary John Leland believed him to be Welsh, but most modern scholarship and this article assumes that he was Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold Revel in Warwickshire. The surname appears in various spellings, including those of Maillorie and Maleore.

Few facts are certain in Malory's history. From his own words he is known to have been a knight and prisoner, and his description of himself as "a servant of Jesu both day and night" has led to the inference that he might have been a priest. It is believed that he was knighted in 1442 and entered the British Parliament representing Warwickshire in 1445.

In 1450, it appears that he turned towards a life of crime, being accused of murder, robbery, stealing, poaching, and rape. Supposedly while imprisoned for most of the 1450s (mostly in London's Newgate Prison), he began writing an Arthurian legend that he called The Book of King Arthur and His Noble Knights of the Round Table. Little else is known of Malory's life, but he is believed to have been a Lancastrian during the Wars of the Roses. His work was first published posthumously by William Caxton as Le Morte D'Arthur in 1485.

Malory is believed to have obtained the material for his work from a French source. In the preface to the first edition of the Le Morte D'Arthur, William Caxton speaks of the work as printed by himself "after a copy unto me delivered, which copy Sir Thomas Malory did take out of certain books of French, and reduced it into English." Malory himself tells us that he finished the book in the ninth year of King Edward IV of England (about 1470). Le Morte D'Arthur brought together the various strands of the legend in a prose romance which many critics reckon the best of its kind.

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Part of this text originated from the 9th edition (1880s) of an unnameable encyclopedia.