Top 7 Books about King Arthur

King Arthur sitting at the round table

 Getty Images/Neil Holmes/Britain On View

King Arthur is one of the most famous figures in literary history. Writers from Geoffrey of Monmouth—widely credited with creating the legend of Arthur— to Mark Twain have written about the medieval hero and the other characters of Camelot. Whether or not he actually existed remains a matter of debate among historians, but legend has it that Arthur, who lived in Camelot with the Knights of the Round Table and Queen Guinevere, defended Britain against invaders in the 5th and 6th centuries. 

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Le Morte D'Arthur

First published in 1485, Le Morte D'Arthur by Sir Thomas Malory is a compilation and interpretation of the legends of Arthur, Guinevere, Sir Lancelot and the Knights of the Round Table. It is among the most-cited works of Arthurian literature, serving as source material for works such as The Once and Future King and Alfred Lord Tennyson's The Idylls of the King. 

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Before Malory: Reading Arthur in Later Medieval England

Richard J. Moll's Before Malory: Reading Arthur in Later Medieval England pieces together the varied chronicles of Arthur's legend, and examines their literary and historical significance. He references Malory, believed to be the writer of Le Morte D'Arthur, as only one part of the long tradition of Arthurian drama.

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The Once and Future King

The 1958 fantasy novel The Once and Future King  by T.H. White takes its title from the inscription in Le Morte D'Arthur. Set in the fictional Gramayre in the 14th century, the four-part story includes the stories The Sword in the Stone, The Queen of Air and Darkness, The Ill-Made Knight and The Candle in the Wind. White chronicles Arthur's story up to his final battle with Mordred, with a uniquely post-World War II perspective. 

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A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

Mark Twain's satirical novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court tells the story of a man who is accidentally transported back in time to the early Middle Ages, where his knowledge of fireworks and other 19th-century "technology" convinces people he is some kind of magician. Twain's novel pokes fun at both the contemporary politics of his day and the notion of medieval chivalry.

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Idylls of the King

This narrative poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, was published between 1859 and 1885, describing Arthur's rise and fall, his relationship with Guinevere, as well as separate chapters telling the stories of Lancelot, Galahad, Merlin, and others in the Arthurian universe. Idylls of the King is considered an allegorical criticism by Tennyson of the Victorian age. 

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King Arthur

When it was first published in 1989, Norma Lorre Goodrich's King Arthur was highly controversial, contradicting many other Arthurian scholars about the possibility of Arthur's origins. Goodrich posits that Arthur was indeed a real person who lived in Scotland, not England or Wales

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The Reign of Arthur: From History to Legend

Christopher Gidlow also examined the question of Arthur's existence in his 2004 book The Reign of Arthur: From History to Legend. Gidlow's interpretation of the early source material suggests that Arthur was a British general and that he was in all likelihood the military leader the legend portrays. 

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Lombardi, Esther. "Top 7 Books about King Arthur." ThoughtCo, Aug. 29, 2020, Lombardi, Esther. (2020, August 29). Top 7 Books about King Arthur. Retrieved from Lombardi, Esther. "Top 7 Books about King Arthur." ThoughtCo. (accessed March 31, 2023).