Malory's Magic Book: King Arthur and the Child, 1862-1980

Research output: Book/anthology/dissertation/reportBookResearchpeer-review

This book interrogates the complex connection between children and the Arthurian legend that has existed since J. T. Knowles’s first adaptation of Thomas Malory’s Morte Darthur for a juvenile audience in 1862, and which remains strong today. Between 1862 and 1980 in Britain and America, adaptations of the Morte for children participated in cultural dialogues relating to the nature and relevance of the ‘medieval’, the role of risk in society, masculine development and mental health through their reworking of the Arthurian narrative. Against the backdrop of Victorian medievalism, empire, the rise of child psychology and two world wars, the diverse ways in which Malory’s text was adapted with a child reader in mind reveals changing ideas regarding the relevance of King Arthur, and the complex relationship between authors and their imagined juvenile readers. Covering texts by J. T. Knowles, Sidney Lanier, Howard Pyle, T. H. White, Roger Lancelyn Green, Alice Hadfield, John Steinbeck and Susan Cooper, among others, Malory’s Magic Book explores how books for children frequently become books about children, and consequently books about the contiguity and separation of the adult and the child. It reveals the profoundly fantasised figures behind literary representations of childhood, and the ways in which Malory’s timeless tale, and the figure of King Arthur, have inspired and shaped these fantasies.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherBoydell & Brewer
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2019

    Research areas

  • Children's literature, Malory, Arthurian literature, Medievalism, Adaptation, Children's culture, Arthurian, Medieval literature

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