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King Arthur

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Book Categories: The Historical Arthur, Sites, Merlin, Arthurian Art and Legend, Medieval Stories, 19th & 20th Century, Modern Novels, Guinevere, Anthologies, Children's Books, DVDs

The Historical Arthur

King Arthur: The Truth Behind the Legend by Rodney Castleden. Reconstructs the kingdoms, frontiers, and political centers of sixth century Britain, and recreates the royal dynasties and chronologies of the Dark Age kings.

Worlds of Arthur: King Arthur in History, Legend and Culture by Fran Doel, Geoff Doel, Terry Lloyd. An examination of the evidence for the historical Arthur. The connection with Tintagel and Glastonbury are also explored.

The Mammoth Book of King Arthur: Reality and Legend, the Beginning and the End - The Most Complete Arthurian Sourcebook Ever edited by Mike Ashley. Analyzes the line between the real Arthurian world and the legends that surround it.

The Complete King Arthur: Many Faces, One Hero by John and Caitlin Matthews. Examines the evidence for every major theory about the existence of King Arthur, drawing on modern archaeology and scholarship.

Evidence of Arthur: Fixing the Legendary King in Factual Place and Time by Flint F. Johnson. Explores literature and other evidence, concluding that Arthur was an historical entity.

The Long War for Britannia, 367-664: Arthur and the History of Post-Roman Britain by Edwin Pace. According to this book, King Arthur and Uther Pendragon were real people.

King Arthur: Man or Myth? by Tony Sullivan. An investigation of the evidence for the legendary king's existence, based on the earliest written sources in chronological order.

King Arthur by Norma Lorre Goodrich sets out to prove that King Arthur was a real person.

Historic Figures of the Arthurian Era: Authenticating the Enemies and Allies of Britain's Post-Roman King by Frank D. Reno. Examines the roles of six major figures of the period from A.D. 383 to 518: Vortimer, Vitalinus, Cunedda, Cerdic, Octha, and Mordred.

Arthur's Identity

Finding Arthur: The True Origins of the Once and Future King by Adam Ardrey. According to the author, historians have had little success identifying the historical Arthur because he was from Scotland.

The Discovery of King Arthur by Geoffrey Ashe presents the theory that the real Arthur was Riothamus, high-king of the Britons, who lived in the 5th century.

Journey to Avalon: The Final Discovery of King Arthur by Chris Barber and David Pykitt. The authors identify the historical Arthur as a Welsh ruler.

Arthur: Warrior and King by Don Carleton. According to the author, Arthur was probably an Irish warrior, and Guinevere was his mistress, not his wife.

The Historic King Arthur: Authenticating the Celtic Hero of Post-Roman Britain Frank D. Reno. According to this book, the true Arthur became king at 15 under the name of Ambrosius Aurelianus shortly after the Romans evacuated Britain at the end of the fifth century.

The King Arthur Conspiracy: How a Scottish Prince Became a Mythical Hero by Simon Andrew Sterling. Presents the theory that Artuir mac Aedain, eldest son of King Áedán mac Gabráin of Dál Riata, was the real King Arthur.

History and Legend

The King Arthur Mysteries: Arthur's Britain and Early Medieval World by Timothy Venning. A guide to the imaginary and historical world of King Arthur, his family, knights, and the legends around them.

King Arthur in Antiquity by Graham Anderson. Argues that the roots of the Arthur legend are to be found in classical antiquity.

King Arthur: The Making of the Legend by Nicholas J. Higham. Explores King Arthur's historical development, proposing that he began as a fictional character in the 9th century. (Also by this author: Pocket Giants: King Arthur and King Arthur: Myth-Making and History.)

The Scots and Medieval Arthurian Legend edited by Rhiannon Purdie and Nicola Royan. Essays covering the period between 1136 and 1603. Topics include Arthurian literature written in Scots, the circulation of other Arthurian material in Scotland, and the portrayal of Scotland in Arthurian texts.

From Scythia to Camelot: A Radical Reassessment of the Legends of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table and the Holy Grail by C. Scott Littleton and Linda A. Malcor. Suggests the Arthur stories are based on Scythian, not Celtic, legend.

King Arthur and the Myth of History by Martin B. Shichtman and Laurie A. Finke. Why did the story of King Arthur emerge in the 12th century? The authors contend that Arthur has been employed as a symbol to legitimize institutional political ambitions during times of social stress.

Sites and Artifacts

Exploring the World of King Arthur by Christopher Snyder examines the history behind the Arthurian legends. Includes 250 illustrations.

King Arthur's Round Table edited by Martin Biddle. A detailed account of a rigorous archaeological investigation into the famous round table displayed in Winchester Castle. Contributors discuss the Round Table in both history and myth.

Glastonbury Abbey and the Arthurian Tradition edited by James P. Carley. Essays examining how Glastonbury Abbey came to present itself as the custodian of King Arthur's relics and the burial place of Joseph of Arimathea.

Looking for Arthur: A Once and Future Travelogue by Richard Leviton is about Arthurian sites in Glastonbury, England.

On the Trail of King Arthur: A Journey into Dark Age Scotland by Robin Crichton. Includes detailed itineraries and maps, part of a project to develop an Arthur trail across Scotland.

King Arthur's Place in Prehistory: The Great Age of Stonehenge by W. A. Cummins links the real Arthur to Stonehenge and the Bronze Age.

Druids, Paganism, Merlin

The Druids and King Arthur: A New View of Early Britain by Robin Melrose. Suggests that Arthur was originally a Druid cult figure and that descendants of the Druids may have founded the kingdom of Wessex.

Witches, Druids, and King Arthur by Ronald Hutton. Discusses a wide range of beliefs, myths and practices and their place in history.

Paganism in Arthurian Romance by John Darrah. Explores the influence of ancient religion on Arthurian tales.

Merlin by Norma Lorre Goodrich. Presents the author's theory that the real Merlin was an amorous scientist named St. Dubricious.

More Modern Nonfiction

Camelot, Inc.: Leadership and Management Insights From King Arthur and the Round Table by Paul Oestreicher. Lessons for business leaders from Arthurian tales on building support, uniting disparate factions, and launching new initiatives.

Modern Fiction

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. An excellent historical novel that presents the story of King Arthur through the eyes of the women in his life.

Arthur the King by Allan Massie. This novel about King Arthur revisits Britain in the dark years after the collapse of Rome, when the land is being ravaged by bitter struggles for power.

The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck. The story of King Arthur retold.

The Death of King Arthur: The Immortal Legend by Thomas Malory, adapted by Peter Ackroyd, illustrated by Stuart Kolakovic. Abridged retelling as a dramatic modern story in contemporary prose.

Sword at Sunset by Rosemary Sutcliff. Presents Arthur as a man of towering strength who lived, fought, and died for his impossible dream.

The Fall of Arthur by J.R.R. Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien. An unfinished long narrative poem based on the legends of King Arthur, written by the author of The Lord of the Rings.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain. Humorous 1889 novel about an American who finds himself at Camelot.

Book Series

The Winter King: A Novel of Arthur by Bernard Cornwell. A historical novel about King Arthur. The first in a trilogy; followed by Enemy of God and Excalibur.

Hawk of May by Gillian Bradshaw. Tells the story of Gwalchmai (Sir Gawain), son of sorceress Morgawse. First book in a trilogy; followed by Kingdom of Summer and In Winter's Shadow.

The Kingmaking: Book One of the Pendragon's Banner Trilogy by Helen Hollick. A realistic retelling of the King Arthur story set in Britain around 455 AD. The other two books in the series are Pendragon's Banner and Shadow of the King.

Taliesin by Stephen R. Lawhead. A romantic fantasy about Atlantis and the parents of Merlin. Lawhead's Pendragon Cycle novels have a Christian slant. The others in the series are Merlin, Arthur, Pendragon, and Grail.

The Crystal Cave is the first book in the acclaimed Arthurian Saga by well-known suspense writer Mary Stewart, who relates the story through Merlin's eyes. The other books in the series are The Hollow Hills, The Last Enchantment, and The Wicked Day. Stewart is also the author of The Prince and the Pilgrim, a romance dealing with minor characters from the King Arthur tales.

The Skystone by Jack Whyte is the first book in the Camulod Chronicles series. The sequels are The Singing Sword, The Eagles' Brood,The Saxon Shore, The Sorcerer: The Fort at River's Bend, The Sorcerer: Metamorphosis, The Lance Thrower, Uther, and The Eagle.


Guenevere, Queen of the Summer Country by Rosalind Miles. Another novel about Guinevere. Followed by two sequels, Knight of the Sacred Lake and Child of the Holy Grail.

Gwenhwyfar: The White Spirit by Mercedes Lackey. Novel about King Arthur's wife.

Child of the Northern Spring: Book One of the Guinevere Trilogy by Persia Woolley. Retells the Arthurian epic with authentic Dark Age detail. Book Two is Queen of the Summer Stars, and Book Three is The Legend in Autumn.

The Dragon Queen by Alice Borchardt. First book in a projected trilogy of novels about King Arthur's wife, Guinevere. The second book in the series is The Raven Warrior. (Borchardt died in 2007 so I don't know if there will be a final book in this series.)


Modern Arthurian Literature: An Anthology of English and American Arthuriana from the Renaissance to the Present edited by Alan Lupack. Includes Arthurian literature by Wordsworth, Hawthorne and many others.

19th and 20th Century Classics

Bulfinch's Mythology: The Age of Chivalry and Legends of Charlemagne or Romance in the Middle Ages by Thomas Bulfinch. Classic Victorian reinterpetation of medieval romances, including those of King Arthur.

Idylls of the King by Alfred Tennyson, edited by J.M. Gray. Arthur's story as told by the great Victorian poet.

The Once and Future King by T. H. White. A fantasy classic, originally published between 1928 and 1958. Very strange, interesting and historically informative - a must-read. Followed by The Book of Merlyn: The Unpublished Conclusion to the Once and Future King, which is also strange and interesting.

Medieval Stories

The Mabinogion edited and translated by Jeffrey Gantz. Medieval Welsh stories, including Arthurian romances.

Arthurian Romances by Chretien De Troyes, translated by William W. Kibler. Chretien De Troyes was a 12th century French poet who wrote five romances about Arthur's knights.

King Arthur: In Legend and History edited by Richard White. Everyone has heard of the Dark-Age hero Arthur, but who was he? Was he really a king? This anthology of Arthurian texts, many translated into English for the first time, traces the legend of Arthur from the earliest mentions in Latin chronicles to medieval times.

The Romance of Arthur edited by James J. Wilhelm. Anthology of translated medieval texts about King Arthur.

Origins of Arthurian Romances by Flint F. Johnson. Early sources for the legends of Tristan, the Grail, and the abduction of the queen.

King Arthur: Hero and Legend by Richard Barber is about Arthur in medieval literature.

Geoffrey of Monmouth

History of the Kings of Britain by Geoffrey of Monmouth, translated by Lewis Thorpe. Written in the 12th century, this is one of the earliest books to discuss King Arthur, who is presented as a real historical figure.

Arthur and the Kings of Britain: The Historical Truth Behind the Myths by Miles Russell. According to the author, King Arthur was a composite character created by 12th century writer Geoffrey of Monmouth from elements that can be traced back to the first century BC.

Le Morte d'Arthur

The Death of King Arthur: A New Verse Translation by Simon Armitage. The Alliterative Morte Arthure is a medieval English poem whose author is unknown. This translation renders the poem "in unflinching and gory detail."

Le Morte Darthur by Thomas Malory. The standard version of the King Arthur stories, first published in 1485 and based on earlier French romances. This edition is unabridged, with original spelling and extensive marginal glosses and footnotes.

French Poetry

Perceforest: The Prehistory of King Arthur's Britain by Nigel Bryant. Written in French in the 14th century, the Arthurian story Perceforest is over a million words long and includes the first written version of the Sleeping Beauty story. This is an abridged but thorough translation.

The Knight of the Two Swords: A Thirteenth-Century Arthurian Romance edited by Ross Gilbert Arthur and translated by Noel Lynn Corbett. French poetry based on the Arthur legends.

The Evolution of Arthurian Romance: The Verse Tradition From Chretien to Froissart by Beate Schmolke-Hasselmann.

Arthurian Art and Legend

The Oxford Guide to Arthurian Literature and Legend by Alan Lupack. Survey of the Arthurian legends, from the earliest medieval texts to contemporary literature, art, music, film, and popular culture.

The Great Book of King Arthur and His Knights of the Round Table by John Matthews, illustrated by John Howe. A retelling of Arthurian stories, with color paintings and drawings by a renowned Tolkien artist.

Great Tales From English History: The Truth About King Arthur, Lady Godiva, Richard the Lionheart, and More by Robert Lacey.

Myths and Legends: King Arthur by Daniel Mersey, illustrations by Alan Lathwell. An easy-to-read yet detailed introduction to the myth and legend that surrounds Britain's greatest hero.

The Fortunes of King Arthur edited by Norris J. Lacy. Essays offer an overview of the role of fortune in legends of King Arthur's court and reign.

The New Arthurian Encyclopedia edited by Norris J. Lacy and Marianne E. Kalinke. A reference to King Arthur in art and legend.

The Arthurian Handbook by Norris J. Lacy, Geoffrey Ashe, and Debra N. Mancoff. A reference guide.

A Companion to Arthurian Literature edited by Helen Fulton. A comprehensive survey from the earliest literature about King Arthur to recent works, including films and computer games.

A Dictionary of King Arthur's Knights by Pamela Ryan.

Arthurian Annals by Daniel P. Nastali, Phillip C. Boardman. Bibliography of the Arthurian tradition in English from the Middle Ages to the year 2000. Lists over 11,000 works in all media, including fiction, poetry, drama; editions and translations of medieval works; children's literature; history and folklore; Arthurian art, music, films, television, and comics.

Art and Music

King Arthur, the Dream of a Golden Age by Geoffrey Ashe is about King Arthur in art.

Visions of Camelot: Great Illustrations of King Arthur and His Court edited by Jeff A. Menges. Collection of 130 illustrations by artists such as N. C. Wyeth, Aubrey Beardsley, and Howard Pyle.

King Arthur in Music edited by Richard Barber. Essays from nine experts in different fields look at Arthurian music in opera, and on stage and screen.

Arthur in Modern Times

King Arthur in Pop Culture by Elizabeth S. Sklar and Donald L. Hoffman. Essays cover the Arthurian legend in economics, ethics, education, entertainment, music, fun and games, the Internet, and esoterica.

The King Arthur Myth in Modern American Fiction and Culture by Andrew E. Mathis.

For Children

The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle is a vivid retelling of the Arthur legend for children. Followed by a sequel, The Story of the Champions of the Round Table.

Tales of King Arthur: Ten Legendary Stories of the Knights of the Round Table by Daniel and Ronne Randall, illustrated by Graham Howells. Retells the classic legends of King Arthur and his knights.

The Boy's King Arthur by Sidney Lanier, illustrations by N. C. Wyeth. Stories about the birth and death of Arthur; his noble knights; and honor, chivalry, and the quest for the Holy Grail. For children ages 4 to 8.

King Arthur: The Evolution of the Legend by Susan Sales Harkins, William H. Harkins. For children ages 9 to 12.

The Story of King Arthur and Other Celtic Heroes by Padraic Colum, illustrated by Wilfred Jones. Irish folklorist Padraic Colum (1881-1972) was noted for his imaginative versions of ancient lyrical fantasies. This illustrated treasury includes 15 of his tales.

For Teens

The Road to Camlann by Rosemary Sutcliff is the first in a well-regarded series of novels for young adults readers. Other Arthurian books by Sutcliff include The Light Beyond the Forest and The Sword and the Circle: King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, an adaptation of Thomas Malory's work.

Arthur, High King of Britain by Michael Morpurgo, illustrated by Michael Foreman. A retelling of the stories of King Arthur for young adult readers.

Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve. A mouse and a bard turn the leader of a raggle-taggle war-band into King Arthur. For young adult readers.

Excalibur: The Legend of King Arthur by Tony Lee, illustrated by Sam Hart. Arthur Pendragon was born in obscurity, but a series of adventures sparked by the wizard Merlin launches Arthur toward his destiny. For young adult readers. (Graphic novel/comic book)

Documentaries and Movies

These DVDs are formatted for North American audiences.

King Arthur: His Life and Legends. Through stunning re-creations and abundant images from centuries past, this documentary examines the social, political and emotional factors that have made Arthur's story so dear to Western culture. From A&E's "Biography" series.

The Quest for King Arthur. This feature-length documentary examines the historical facts, and illuminates the quest by researchers to establish if the 6th-century warlord truly existed.

In Search of History: The Knights of Camelot. From its inception, Camelot was shrouded in mystery and magic. Did such a place once exist? Was King Arthur real, or merely legend? Join prominent archaeologists and historians as they venture through England and Wales in search of the legendary site of the Round Table.

In Search of History: The Holy Grail. Experts explore the tangled web of stories surrounding the Grail in search of clues to its existence and purported powers.

Ancient Mysteries: Myths & Legends. Four episodes, including "Camelot" and "Quest for the Holy Grail." Examine the legends of King Arthur, visit the alleged site of his storied court, and explore whether the legendary Holy Grail still exists.

Excalibur. This 1981 movie presents a dark, lush retelling of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. Stars Nicol Williamson, Nigel Terry, Helen Mirren. (Review © Amazon.com.)

Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Could this be the funniest movie ever made? By any rational measure of comedy, this medieval romp from the Monty Python troupe certainly belongs on the short list of candidates. With Graham Chapman as the King, Terry Gilliam as his simpleton sidekick, and the rest of the Python gang filling out a variety of outrageous roles. (Review © Amazon.com.)

Camelot, a 1967 movie adaptation of the Lerner-Loewe musical, stars Richard Harris as King Arthur and Vanessa Redgrave as Guinevere. Starts out silly (Arthur wears a lot of makeup and hops around like a demented ballerina), but improves toward the end.

First Knight. Another strangely cast movie; Richard Gere is way too old to be believable as Lancelot and it's hard to believe Guinevere would dump Sean Connery, who plays King Arthur, for a younger man. The action-oriented storyline has a modern feel throughout, but is entertaining.

Knights of the Round Table. Colorful 1953 spectacle starring Ava Gardner as Guinevere, Robert Taylor as Lancelot and Mel Ferrer as King Arthur.

Merlin. TV miniseries that stars Sam Neill as the title character and Helena Bonham Carter as Morgan Le Fey.

The Sword in the Stone. Based upon T.H. White's beloved novel, this Disney-fied version chronicles the tutoring of the Once and Future King, Arthur, as handled by the magician Merlin. There's much to enjoy here as Merlin shows Newt, the young Arthur, things that will help him become the ruler of the Britons. The transformation sequences, where the boy is turned into a fish, a bird, and a squirrel are vintage Disney. (Review © Amazon.com.)

Sword of Lancelot. 1963 film directed by and starring Cornel Wild.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. 1949 musical that stars Bing Crosby as Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee.

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