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White, T(erence) H(anbury)

arthur queen world merlyn

(British, 1906–64)

White, by profession a history teacher, achieved major success with his Arthurian tetralogy, The Once and Future King (1958). The first volume, The Sword in the Stone (1939), is an enchanting account of Arthur's boyhood education by Merlyn. The Queen of Air and Darkness (1940; originally The Witch in the Wood) moves into a more haunted world where Arthur unwittingly sleeps with his half-sister and literally sows the seeds of his own destruction. The Ill-Made Knight (1941) provides a unique and touching interpretation of the love-affair between Sir Lancelot and Queen Guinevere by making Lancelot grotesquely ugly. The Candle in the Wind (1958) is an elegiac meditation on the collapse of Arthur's world. The tetralogy is characterized by its mixture of wit, wonder, and regret. The Book of Merlyn (1976) is a posthumously published reprise of these themes.

J. R. R. Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, Ursula Le Guin. See FANTASY  GK

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