In Our Time

BBC Radio 4

Society & Culture, History

Chart Positions

History 15
Society & Culture 51

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the history of ideas


Le Morte d'Arthur

January 10th, 2013

Episode 262 of 515 episodes

Melvyn Bragg and his guests discuss Thomas Malory's "Le Morte Darthur", the epic tale of King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table. Sir Thomas Malory was a knight from Warwickshire, a respectable country gentleman and MP in the 1440s who later turned to a life of crime and spent various spells in prison. It was during Malory's final incarceration that he wrote "Le Morte Darthur", an epic work which was based primarily on French, but also some English, sources. Malory died shortly after his release in 1470 and it was to be another fifteen years before "Le Morte Darthur" was published by William Caxton, to immediate popular acclaim. Although the book fell from favour in the seventeenth century, it was revived again in Victorian times and became an inspiration for the Pre-Raphaelite movement who were entranced by the chivalric and romantic world that Malory portrayed. The Arthurian legend is one of the most enduring and popular in western literature and its characters - Sir Lancelot, Guinevere, Merlin and King Arthur himself, are as well-known today as they were then; and the book's themes - chivalry, betrayal, love and honour - remain as compelling. With: Helen Cooper Professor of Medieval and Renaissance English at the University of Cambridge Helen Fulton Professor of Medieval Literature and Head of Department of English and Related Literature at the University of York Laura Ashe CUF Lecturer and Tutorial Fellow at Worcester College at the University of Oxford Producer: Natalia Fernandez.